Asks Attorney General Foster To Recuse Himself Due To Conflict Of Interest
Concord - The New Hampshire Republican State Committee today asked the New Hampshire Department of Justice to investigate more questionable donations made to Governor Maggie Hassan's political committees. The complaint focuses on a 2012 $25,000 donation and a 2014 $10,000 contribution made by the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union PAC.
The NHGOP also asked Attorney General Joe Foster to recuse himself from this investigation given that he served on then-candidate Maggie Hassan's 2012 campaign finance committee and may have been involved with the questionable 2012 donation.
Last week the Department of Justice found that Hassan had accepted tens of thousands of dollars in illegal contributions from three Big Labor PACs that also broke the law.
The NHGOP's full complaint is below:
Attorney General Joseph Foster
New Hampshire Department of Justice
33 Capitol Street
Concord, NH 03301
Dear Attorney General Foster,
On behalf of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee, I am writing today to respectfully request that you investigate another questionable contribution made to one of Governor Maggie Hassan's political committees.
In 2012, then-gubernatorial candidate Hassan filed a finance report with the Secretary of State on June 20th of that year reporting the receipts and expenditures of her political action committee Maggie 12'. Five days earlier on June 15, 2012, Hassan converted this PAC to a candidate committee when she officially filed her candidacy.
In this report (Exhibit A), Hassan lists a donation of $25,000 made on June 15, 2012 (the day Hassan filed) from "Plumbers and Steamfitters Local" of 161 Londonderry Turnpike in Hooksett. This donation resembles the illegal $25,000 contribution made by the IBEW PAC to Governor Hassan's re-election campaign on the day she filed for office in 2014. Your ruling last week determined that this contribution exceeded legal limits and $24,000 of it had to be returned.
Upon reviewing the filings of political action committees from the 2012 cycle, there is no registration for a PAC called "Plumbers and Steamfitters Local". However, a committee called "Local Union 131 Volunteer PAC" was registered that cycle at the same address (161 Londonderry Turnpike, Hooksett) that was mentioned on Hassan's report (Exhibit B). The website http://www.ualu131.org and media reports also confirm that UA Local 131 in Hooksett is also known and Plumbers and Steamfitters Union 131.
A Hassan press release indicates that the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 131 Union endorsed her campaign on July 12, 2012 (Exhibit C). In the press release David Pelletier, business manager for the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 131, praised Hassan. Mr. Pelletier is also listed as the chairperson of the Local Union 131 Volunteer PAC in documents filed with the Secretary of State.
However the filing for the Local Union 131 Volunteer PAC indicates that it was not created until August 2, 2012 - nearly two months after this PAC allegedly gave candidate Hassan $25,000. Even more troubling, there is no mention of this $25,000 donation on any of the Local Union 131 Volunteer PAC finance reports filed with the Secretary of State during the 2012 cycle (Exhibit D). The PAC filed reports on August 22, 2012, October 17, 2012 and November 14, 2012. The contribution simply doesn't exist on any of these reports.
Either the Hassan Campaign or the Local Union 131 Volunteer PAC filed a false document given the discrepancy regarding the $25,000 donation. If in fact the Local Union 131 Volunteer PAC did make the June 15th donation, they would have broken the law by waiting until August to file. Additionally, given the questionable nature of this donation, there are questions as to whether the Hassan Campaign received this check before or after she officially became a candidate.
It should also be noted that the Local Union 131 PAC subsequently refilled for the 2014 cycle and made a $10,000 contribution to the Governor's re-election campaign on June 12, 2014 (the day she filed.)
As the Nashua Telegraph said in an editorial dated August 5th, "As troublesome as it is that Hassan accepted the $25,000 check in violation of campaign law, there's something even more disturbing: The idea that the unions thought there was something to be gained from making the contribution at all." Given Governor Hassan's history of accepting illegal contributions, and the concern for, and potential of, undue influence stemming from such illegal contributions, we ask that the Department of Justice review both the 2012 $25,000 donation and the 2014 $10,000 donation to ensure that they are legal.
Additionally, I am asking you to recuse yourself from any involvement in this investigation. As you know, in 2012 you served on then-candidate Hassan's finance committee and helped her raise money during the time of the questionable contribution at issue. Given this connection to the 2012 donation, and your involvement in developing and guiding then-candidate Hassan's fundraising strategies and outreach, it would be best if you stepped aside in this matter in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, and to ensure the continued confidence of New Hampshire residents.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
New Hampshire Republican State Committee