By Sam Stein
August 13, 2010
The ongoing ethics saga involving Reps. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has sent Democratic operatives on a frenetic chase to find problem lawmakers on the Republican side of the aisle.
There have been some successes in the Senate where the sordid extramarital messes of both David Vitter (R-La.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.) have become inviting targets.
The House has proved less fruitful.
When Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told the National Review this week that the GOP would implement a "zero tolerance" ethics policy, a top strategist on the other side of the aisle insisted that the Virginia Republican would suddenly have to answer for the transgressions of a host of lawmakers in his own party. The best example he produced was National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX), whose close relationship with disgraced financier Allen Stanford and 2008 fundraising jaunt at a risqué Vegas nightclub have implied tone-deafness more than corruption.
Recent developments in a New Hampshire congressional race, however, may end up giving Democrats what they are looking for. On Thursday, former Manchester mayor Frank Guinta filed financial disclosure forms revealing a previously unreported personal bank account with $250,000 and $500,000 in assets. Coming shortly after Guinta loaned his campaign $245,000, the funds raised the eyebrows of Granite State political observers. Where, exactly, was the money coming from and why had the GOP congressional candidate not disclosed it on his previous two forms?
In an interview with the Manchester Union Leader, Guinta denied that he received any loan (which would have potentially violated campaign finance laws) and insisted that earlier disclosure omissions were "an inadvertent oversight."
But it's not just Democrats who are skeptical of the explanation. A Republican operative in New Hampshire -- who pointed out the story to the Huffington Post -- expressed anxiety that the episode would muddy the party's ethics message. Guinta, who is in a primary battle with conservative small businessman Sean Mahoney, has both the backing of the NRCC and has received the maximum contributions from Cantor and Minority Leader John Boehner's (R-Ohio) political action committees.
"It's very important for Republicans to be able to talk about ethics in the general election," said the operative. "That can't happen if the hand-picked candidates of the NRCC are mysteriously rediscovering bank accounts with half-a-million dollars they forgot they had. In the age of Charlie Rangel, Republicans need to put up a cleaner, more ethical state of candidates than the Democrats."
Entries in NH CD1 (5)
Good morning. I wanted to bring to your attention a news item in BigGovernment.com from a Congressional race in New Hampshire. Sean Mahoney, a conservative Republican candidate in the primary to face Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, has identified an embarrassing waste of stimulus money to resurface a bridge that doesn’t go anywhere. Quite literally, this is a Bridge to Nowhere.
The pictures and video would be comical if they did not depict such a foolish waste of money.
I thought you might be interested.
Many thanks for your time,
BigGovernment: Stimulus Money Wasted on a ‘Real Bridge to Nowhere’
The New Hampshire Department of Transportation sought and on August 28, 2009 was awarded $150,045 to refurbish <http://www.recovery.gov/Transparency/RecipientReportedData/Pages/RecipientProjectSummary508.aspx?AwardIDSUR=15714&AwardType=Grants> “a historic stone arch bridge [which] will be preserved and resurfaced to better accommodate pedestrians and bicycles.”
The NH DOT lists the following for the rationale for the project <http://www.recovery.gov/Transparency/RecipientReportedData/Pages/RecipientProjectSummary508.aspx?AwardIDSUR=15714&AwardType=Grants> : “Facilities for Pedestrians and Bicycles. Preserve/Create jobs; and economic recovery. Invest in transportation.”
The project is nearly complete now but you still can’t cross the bridge to get to the other side. That’s because there is no other side.
As can be seen from the photos from Hillsborough, NH the word “bridge” does not adequately describe the structure. It’s really more of a pier. Nor does it appear there will ever be a bridge. The railing at the lopped-off end of the structure seems pretty permanent.
An actual bridge that crosses the Contoocook River is about 100 feet away.
Despite the $150,000 of stimulus money spent to resurface a bridge that doesn’t go anywhere, the state of New Hampshire does not have sufficient funding to repair the many functioning bridges that are falling apart. A recent report by TRIP <http://www.tripnet.org/New_Hampshire_Report_June_2010.pdf> indicates that almost one-third of all New Hampshire bridges are either “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete.”
Conservative congressional candidate Sean Mahoney (NH-01) has made New Hampshire’s “Bridge to Nowhere” an issue in his campaign <http://www.mahoney2010.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=217:mahoney-releases-web-video-on-nhs-bridge-to-nowhere&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=188> .
He’s calling on incumbent Democrat Carol Shea-Porter “to come clean and explained to the American people how $1 Trillion dollars was spent on projects like this” in a new web video:
Mahoney has urged Congress <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9X7ZwI1-1U> to stop payment on the balance of the stimulus and to use the remaining money to pay down the national debt.
I really want to like this guy Guinta; if he clears the primary I’m going to have to vote for him. It’s getting harder rather than easier though, because he seems far too adept at blaming everyone else but himself for his troubles. This is not a good sign.
I wrote in this space recently about my concerns with Guinta’s position on the Stimulus bill. His fans supporters and minions took me to task on the credibility of both my claims and my sources, and that’s ok - this is a blood sport after all.
But in my follow-up research on the details of this Stimulus flap, I found some troubling remarks…even from his own blog page (in which he attempted to clarify himself)…which seem to indicate he’s not all that good at taking responsibility for things that don’t go his way or run counter to his talking points of the day.
Article Continues Here ---> NH-1: Guinta’s Muddy Waters On Climate
It appears the Guinta Campaign has a bunch of free time and nothing to do but create fake Facebook accounts.
Insider experts tell us the facts are there for all to see, the first two signups are Guinta campaign staffers!
What do you think?
This one is Phoney Mahoney
It's a given that Republicans will pick up a lot of Democratic held Congressional seats in districts won by John McCain this year. What will decide whether the GOP can take control of the House is its ability to win ones where Barack Obama was victorious as well. And it appears to have a very good chance to do so in both of New Hampshire's districts.
Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter has an upside down approval with 50% of voters disapproving of her job performance to just 41% giving her good marks. Hers is the more conservative of the state's districts and she's probably not helped by Obama's negative 45/49 approval spread or the 52/42 opposition to the health care bill there.
In a hypothetical match up with Frank Guinta, Shea-Porter trails 46-45. It has little to do with Guinta- 52% of voters in the district don't know enough about him to have an opinion and it's far from inevitable that he will be the GOP nominee. But he nevertheless leads 45-42 among independents and takes 9% of Democrats to Shea-Porter's 7% of Republicans. Shea-Porter has not really done any bipartisan bridge building so that puts her fate in the hands of independents and that will make it tough for her this fall with independents everywhere leaning toward the GOP. This one looks like a tossup.
If the best known candidates for Paul Hodes' open seat win their party nominations Republicans will be heavily favored to take it back. Former Congressman Charlie Bass leads 2002 Democratic nominee Katrina Swett 47-32. Those numbers are pretty comparable to what happened when they faced off the first time and Bass won 57-41, not a huge surprise given that this is the first year where New Hampshire Republicans have much cause for optimism since that 2002 election.
Although she is the best known candidate for now because of her family name and prior run, Democrats may be better off nominating someone other than Swett. 29% of voters in the district have an unfavorable opinion of her to only 19% who view her positively. Bass isn't amazingly popular either with 35% of voters holding a favorable opinion of him to 34% with a negative one. Still he leads Swett 49-26 with independents and gets 18% of the Democratic vote against her so if that's how the race shapes up the GOP will be in a very strong position.
If Republicans can win these sorts of districts around the country in the fall, they will probably take back the majority. In New Hampshire anyway, they appear to be in a strong position to do so.
This analysis is also available on our blog:
A press release and full crosstabs are attached