Concord, NH - This weekend, the Union Leader reported that House Speaker Bill O'Brien pressured a state Representative to support his constitutional amendment on education funding, "because Cornerstone wanted it passed." (Union Leader, 3/13/2011) Cornerstone Action, is a 501C4 group spent that millions of dollars in New Hampshire supporting Republicans candidates in 2010.
Right after the 2010 election, the House Republican Policy Adviser Rep. Paul Mirski outlined the House Republican Leadership's priorities. Included in his list was, "develop an index of lobbyists and determine client interests," "establish liaison with lobbyists and lobbyist clientele," and "establish liaison with all individuals that gave significantly to Republicans in the last election." (IMMEDIATE LEADERSHIP TASKS)
"Does Speaker O'Brien think it is ethical for him to pressure elected representatives to support bills because a major donor or lobbyist asked him to?" asked Harrell Kirstein, press secretary for the New Hampshire Democratic Party. "Clearly House Republican Leadership made working for major donors and lobbyists a top priority, but where are the people of New Hampshire on their list? The Republican agenda this year has been reckless, irresponsible, and ignored job creation."
On the first day of the 2011 legislative session, House Republican Majority Leader DJ Bettencourt said, "I don't know how things have been run in the past, but I can tell you this is how we going to run them. The Constitution will be followed and ethics are going to be followed with a zero-tolerance policy." (Union Leader, 1/6/2011)
"Does asking Representatives to support a bill because Cornerstone does constitute a violation of Majority Leader Bettencourt's zero-tolerance policy? Will he be calling for an investigation by the House ethics committee?" asked Kirstein. "Or does Bettencourt not see any conflict here?"