NHDP - Here's Johnny... Again: Same Stephen, Different Race

Record of Fiscal Incompetence, Untrustworthiness

CONCORD -"Johnny Stephen may be the worst candidate to run for governor since his mentor, Craig Benson, was defeated in 2004, given his unique record of fiscal incompetence and untrustworthiness," said Kathy Sullivan, Former New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair and Democratic National Committeewoman, in response to Stephen's announcement. "There is no question that New Hampshire voters will reject him again in his third try at elective office".

"As a lifelong bureaucrat, Johnny Stephen has accumulated a record of incompetent fiscal management and lack of trustworthiness. He has consistently put his political ambitions ahead of the people of New Hampshire," Sullivan said. "He may be running for a different office this time, but his record is the same."   

In contrast, Sullivan said, as Governor, John Lynch has provided the steady leadership that New Hampshire needs in these tough times.  

"John Lynch is providing the strong, steady leadership New Hampshire needs in these tough times. As Governor, John Lynch is bringing people together to make progress on rebuilding the economy, improving education and expanding access to health care," Sullivan said.  "Under John Lynch's leadership, New Hampshire's unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the nation - and 30 percent below the national average; state spending is among the lowest in the nation; and the state's tax burden is among the lowest in the nation."  

In his announcement today, John Stephen claimed he was running as a fiscal conservative who would cut government spending. 

"He is not a fiscal conservative, he is a fiscal incompetent," Sullivan said.  "It is laughable to hear Johnny Stephen rail against government, since he has been living off of government his entire career. And Stephen's record in state government is one of fiscal incompetence: 103 percent increase in spending during his years at the Department of Safety, asking for huge budget increases at the Department of Health and Human Services, and making mistakes that were costly to the taxpayers. Even a Republican legislator said you couldn't get straight numbers from him. The Concord Monitor described Stephen and his mentor, Craig Benson, as disturbingly secret about their plans for the state's largest agency. " 

Governor John Lynch has the true record of responsible fiscal management. Under his leadership, state spending has increased only an average of 1.8 percent per year - far less than his predecessors and the average rate of inflation.  

"When the recession began, John Lynch made the tough, responsible choices to cut spending and keep the budget balanced. He reduced the number of state employees, cut spending across state agencies and is continually working to make state government more efficient while improving services to citizens - centralizing purchasing, putting drivers' license renewals online, closing an expensive prison, and eliminating unnecessary boards and commissions," Sullivan said. 

"Unfortunately for the people of New Hampshire, Johnny Stephen spent his time in state government focused on advancing his political ambitions, instead on helping them. Johnny Stephen's tenure in state government was characterized by his contentiousness and ineffectiveness," Sullivan said. 

"This isn't surprising given that John Stephen was Craig Benson's right-hand man, and the chief architect of his secret plan to cut health care for seniors, pregnant women and children," Sullivan said.  

"We look forward to telling people more about the John Stephen record over the coming months," Sullivan said.  

Highlights of The John Stephen Record

Fiscal Incompetence and Untrustworthiness 

  • During his five years at the Department of Safety, that agency's budget increased 103 percent - or more than 12 percent a year.


  • In 2004, in his first budget as Health and Human Services Commissioner, John Stephen asked for an 11 percent increase in general funds.


  • Stephen's career is one of incompetence and mismanagement. For example, just weeks before the budget was to be presented to the legislature in 2005, John Stephen confessed that he had double-counted $70 million in federal funds - opening up a huge new hole in his department's budget. That's not the sign of a good fiscal manager.


  • In his second budget as Health and Human Services commissioner, John Stephen requested a 13 percent increase in his budget.


  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General is demanding the state repay $35 million from 2004, claiming improper use of federal funds during the time John Stephen was commissioner.


  • Former Republican Congressman and current state senator Jeb Bradley called John Stephen, a "big spending bureaucrat."


  • John Stephen was the architect of Craig Benson's secret Medicaid plan. Although Stephen and Benson promised an open, public process, they secretly submitted a plan to the Bush Administration that would have dramatically cut care for seniors, pregnant women and children. At the time, the Concord Monitor said, the plan was a "fiscal disaster for New Hampshire." In addition, the Monitor said, "Stephen and Benson have been disturbingly secret about their plans for the state's largest agency and Medicaid. Both have turned their backs and walked away when questioned about it," the Monitor said. (Concord Monitor 11/5/2004)


  • During his time in state service, John Stephen was distrusted by both Republicans and Democrats. Former state senator Peter Burling called him the most "untrustworthy" person in state government. Fran Wendleboe, a Republican member of the House Finance Committee said, "There was a real problem getting straight numbers out of that department under his leadership," (Union Leader, 8/12/08)


  • In 2002, John Stephen supposedly took a leave from his job at the Department of Safety to run for Congress. But even though he was on leave, John Stephen was granting another Safety employee leaves of absences - so she could go work on his campaign. Calling it "Stephen's trick," even the Union Leader, said it was "disturbing" and said of Stephen:  "Either he is trying to snow the public, or he doesn't understand the concept of a leave of absence."


  • In his 2002 campaign ads, John Stephen claimed to be the state's director of homeland security. In fact, the former fire marshal was named director of emergency management and put in charge of homeland security after Sept. 11th.


Highlights of the John Lynch Record 

Steady Leadership Bringing People Together to Make Progress for NH 

  • Under John Lynch, New Hampshire is ranked one of the safest states in the nation, one of the healthiest states, and one of the best states to raise a child.


  • New Hampshire's unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the nation - and 30 percent below the national average.


  • New Hampshire has the fourth-lowest state spending per capita and one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation.


  • John Lynch has made the tough choices to cut state spending to ensure a balanced budget to protect essential services and to make state government work better for people. He cut personnel costs; increased centralized purchasing; cut programs; put drivers' licenses renewals online; closed a costly prison and is working on a bipartisan initiative to continue to reduce prison costs and increase public safety.


  • John Lynch has kept state spending well below his predecessors. Over the six years in his three budgets, state general funding increases were 1.8 percent - less the average rate of inflation and far less than the average 3.4 percent yearly increase from 1982 through 2005.


  • John Lynch put in place tough new ethics law to hold state officials to the highest standards.


  • Under John Lynch leadership, every child in New Hampshire can now attend public kindergarten. John Lynch's bipartisan initiative to increase New Hampshire's high school graduation rate decreased New Hampshire's dropout rate by 30 percent just last year.


  • John Lynch passed one of the nation's toughest laws to protect children from sexual predators.


  • John Lynch continues to work to help families and businesses rebuild from the recession. He recently created the Green Jobs Launching Pad to help innovative new companies grow and create jobs in the Granite State. And Gov. Lynch's bipartisan NH Working initiative will help companies save money and avert layoffs and help workers find new jobs.