NH GOP - Appeals Voter File Sale Case

CONCORD – The New Hampshire Republican has appealed the voter file sale case to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

“This was a fundraising scheme from day one. The New Hampshire Democratic Party made nearly $400,000 in profits from the sale of the voter file which was assembled using taxpayer dollars. We are asking the New Hampshire Supreme Court whether the lower court erred by failing to consider making the New Hampshire Democratic Party return those profits to the taxpayers,” said Fergus Cullen, Chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party.

The case was originally raised as an equal access case because the Libertarian Party was denied the same access to the file as was granted to the major parties. It was only after the original case was filed that the Democratic fundraising scheme came to light. The judge in the original case felt the fundraising aspects of the case went beyond the scope of the original suit.

The Republican Party is also asking the Supreme Court to consider whether the trial court erred “by failing to apply the proper standard for retroactive application of an invalid statute when considering the issue of remedies.” That is, was it right to allow the Democratic Party to profit from a law that was ruled unconstitutional? “We consider the profits made by the Democratic Party to be like drug money: Gains made through illegal activity. Drug dealers aren’t allowed to keep their profits. Such money is forfeited to the taxpayers, and we believe the profits from the voter file sales should be turned over to the taxpayers as well,” Cullen said.

Cullen noted that the Republican Party has not ruled out asking the New Hampshire Attorney General to investigate whether the New Hampshire Democratic Party broke state law by selling the voter file to commercial list vendors, or calling for an ethics investigation of Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Paul Hodes’s use of $5,000 taxpayer dollars each from their congressional offices to purchase the list from the state Democratic Party.

BACKGROUND:

The NH Democratic Party purchased the list from the Secretary of State on August 16,2007. In court proceedings, attorneys for the Democrats stated that they had contractual obligations to sell the data. (Federal Election Commission, www.fec.gov, Accessed December6, 2007; “Judge Strikes Down Voter Information Law,” Associated Press , November 29, 2007)

A review of public records reveals that: 1) The Democratic Party purchased the statewide voter file for $450 and then resold it multiple times to Democratic presidential campaigns; 2) They were negotiating to re-sell the list even while legislation allowing them to purchase it was being steered through the Democrat-controlled legislature; 3) The Democratic Party also sold the list to commercial list brokers, which may be a violation of state law.

WHILE DEMOCRATS SHEPHERDED THE BILL THROUGH THE DEMOCRAT-CONTROLLED LEGISLATURE, THE NH DEMOCRATIC PARTY WAS ALREADY NEGOTIATING TO RESELL THE LIST TO PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS

In thewinter of 2007, State Senator Peter Burling wrote legislation, SB 98, that allowed the New Hampshire Democratic Party to purchase a new and enhanced statewide voter file from the Secretary of State for $450. The Democrat-controlled legislature passed the bill and Democrat Governor John Lynch signed it into law. (2007 Session, SB 98, New Hampshire General Court)

While Senator Burling was shepherding the bill through the legislature, the NewHampshire Democratic Party was negotiating with Democratic presidential campaigns to buy the list from them for $65,000 each. Five presidential campaigns purchased the list – several of them doing so before the legislation had been passed – and others may do so:

  • On February 7, 2007, The Obama Exploratory Committee Paid $65,000 To The Democratic Party For “Voter File Access.” The Obama Exploratory Committee made an additional payment of $5,000 to the Democratic Party for voter file access on April 3, 2007. (Federal Election Commission, www.fec.gov, Accessed December 6, 2007)
  • On March 27, 2007, The Hillary Clinton For President Exploratory Committee Paid $65,000 To The Democratic Party For Access To The Voter File. (Federal Election Commission, www.fec.gov, Accessed December 6, 2007)
  • On April 13, 2007, John Edwards For President Made A Payment Of $65,000 And A Payment Of $5,000 To The Democratic Party For Voter File Access. (Federal Election Commission, www.fec.gov, Accessed December 6, 2007)
  • On May 18, 2007, Chris Dodd For President Paid $5,000 To The State Democratic Party For Voter File Access. The New Hampshire Democrats have stated that Dodd’s campaign purchased the list, so presumably another payment of $65,000 has been made but not yet reported. (Federal Election Commission, www.fec.gov, Accessed December 6, 2007; “Judge Strikes Down Voter Information Law,” Associated Press , November 29, 2007)
  • On July 3, 2007, Richardson For President Paid $65,000 To The Democratic Party For Voter File Access. (Federal Election Commission, www.fec.gov, Accessed December 6, 2007)

According To Their Spokeswoman, The New Hampshire Democratic State Committee “Makes A Profit” Off Of The Sale Of Their Voter File. “[Pia] Carusone said the party has had a database for years which it enhances and checks for updates against other data-bases, such as a national database for changes of address. The new information will simply update and add to that list, she said. She said the party makes a profit, but could not say how much since work updating the list is ongoing.” (Norma Love, “N.H. Dems Can Use New Voter Information For List Sold To Presidential Candidates,” Associated Press ,August 14, 2007)

THE NEW HAMPSHIRE DEMOCRATS ALSO SOLD THE VOTER LIST TO COMMERCIAL LIST VENDORS

According to the law,

“No party shall use or permit the use of voter information provided by the secretary of state under paragraph I for commercial purposes as defined in RSA 654:31, I(b). Whoever knowingly violates any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor if a natural person or guilty of a felony if any other person.” (RSA 654:31, II)

“‘Commercial purposes’ means knowingly using, selling, giving, or receiving the checklist information for the purpose of selling or offering for sale any property or service unrelated to an election or political campaign.” (RSA 654:31, I)

The New Hampshire Democratic Party sold the list or access to the list to the companies below:

On January 19, 2007 Catalist Paid $25,000 To The NH Democratic Party For The “Sale”Of Their Voter File. On January 25, 2007 Catalist Paid Another $25,000 To The NH Democratic Party For The “Sale” Of Their Voter File. (Federal Election Commission, www.fec.gov, Accessed December 6, 2007). Catalistis an affiliate of Data Warehouse, LLC.

On June 26, 2007 Smith Edwards Dunlap Company Paid The New Hampshire Democratic State Committee $5,000 For Voter File Access. (Federal Election Commission, www.fec.gov,Accessed December 6, 2007)

  • New Hampshire Democratic State Committee’s Memo For The Smith Edwards Dunlap Explicitly Stated That Their Payment Was For Access To The Voter File. “The payment on Schedule A supporting Line 17 from the Smith-Edwards-Dunlap Company was made for access to the voter file maintained by the New Hampshire Democratic State Committee. The fee charged for access to the voter file did not exceed the usual and normal charge or the ordinary market price at the time of the contribution. The fee that the Smith-Edwards-Dunlap Company was charged for the voter file was pro-rated based on the costs incurred by the State Committee in creating and maintaining the file and was also based on the amount of information that the Smith-Edwards-Dunlap Company was allowed to access on the file.” (Federal Election Commission, www.fec.gov, Accessed December 6, 2007)
  • Smith Edwards Dunlap Bills Itself As “Philadelphia’s Leading Commercial Printing Company.” (Smith-Edwards-Dunlap Company, www.sed.com/about-us.html, Accessed December 6, 2007)

On September 21, 2007, Astro Research Inc. Paid $4,557.49 To The New Hampshire Democratic Party For Voter File Access. (Federal Election Commission, www.fec.gov,Accessed December 7, 2007)

Fergus Cullen

Chairman, New Hampshire Republican Party

10 Water Street

Concord , NH 03301