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Entries in FOIA (103)

Tuesday
Mar032015

NHGOP FILES MONTHLY RIGHT TO KNOW REQUEST ON HASSAN OUT OF STATE TRAVEL 

Party Expands Request To Department Of Public Safety To Track Hassan's Whereabouts
 

Concord - The New Hampshire Republican State Committee today filed its monthly Right to Know request regarding absentee Governor and likely Senate candidate Maggie Hassan's out of state travel for the month of February. Given Hassan's unwillingness to provide complete information for out of state travel, the NHGOP also filed a similar request with the Department of Public Safety regarding Governor Hassan's security detail travel records to determine her whereabouts.

 

New Hampshire Public Radio reports that Hassan is in New York City and Washington today to give a speech at "NY's premier social club" and to address a reception for a liberal special interest group. The Concord Monitor reported over the weekend that Governor Hassan is undermining New Hampshire's Right to Know law and urging state agencies to ignore legal requirement to respond to requests from reporters:

 

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The Honorable Maggie Hassan
Governor of New Hampshire
State House
107 North Main Street Concord, New Hampshire 03301

 

Governor Hassan:

 

This is a request under the New Hampshire Right To Know Law (RSA 91-A).

 

I formally request that you provide me with all records regarding your out-of-state travel for the month of February 2015. This request includes, but is not limited to, any information regarding the purpose and duration of travel, in addition to any costs incurred by New Hampshire taxpayers during your trips.

 

The Concord Monitor reported this weekend that you have worked to undermine New Hampshire's Right to Know law by pressuring state agencies to ignore requests made by members of the media. Your actions are extremely troubling and indicate that the Hassan Administration is trying to hide information from the public as you gear up to abandon your job as governor and run for United States Senate.

 

Should you decline to provide any requested information, please provide the specific provision under RSA 91-A that exempts such public records from the Right to Know Law. Granite Staters have a right to know how often their governor is shirking the responsibilities of her office in order to advance her career. They also deserve a full-time executive in the corner office, not an absentee governor who has been dishonest about her political intentions.

 

Sincerely,

Jennifer Horn
Chairman
New Hampshire Republican State Committee

 

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Commissioner John Barthelmes
New Hampshire Department of Public Safety
33 Hazen Drive

Concord, NH 03305

 

Commissioner Barthelmes:

 

This is a request under the New Hampshire Right To Know Law (RSA 91-A).

 

I formally request that you provide me with all records regarding the out-of-state travel of members of Governor Maggie Hassan's state police security detail for the month of February 2015. This request includes, but is not limited to, any information regarding the purpose and duration of travel, in addition to any costs incurred by New Hampshire taxpayers during Governor Hassan's trips.

 

Governor Hassan has attempted to hide information about her out of state travel as she gears up to abandon her current job and run for United States Senate. The governor refuses to respond to Right to Know requests and has even pressured state agencies to ignore legal requirements to follow New Hampshire's transparency laws. We hope that by filing this request with your state agency, the public will be able to learn more about Governor Hassan's travel records that she is desperate to keep secret. 

 

Should you decline to provide any requested information, please provide the specific provision under RSA 91-A that exempts such public records from the Right to Know Law.

 

Sincerely,

Jennifer Horn
Chairman
New Hampshire Republican State Committee

Tuesday
Feb172015

Citizens For A Strong NH - ICYMI: Dufresne: Hassan does not believe in being accessible or accountable 

 

 

 

 

By: Derek Dufresne

 

"The people of New Hampshire expect and deserve the office of the governor to be as open and accessible as possible." 

 

- Gov. Maggie Hassan 

 

Sounds logical, right? In fact, it actually seems like government transparency is one of the few areas in modern politics where all Granite Staters, regardless of ideology, could find common ground. Gov. Maggie Hassan is correct in her premise that the people of New Hampshire deserve two things: openness and accessibility. However, despite the aforementioned quote from the governor being predominantly displayed in the opening paragraph of her taxpayer-funded website, our state's chief executive has failed to meet even her own two parameters necessary for transparency.

 

Read the opinion column in its entirety at the UnionLeader.com by clicking here.

Saturday
Feb142015

NHGOP POSTS HASSAN CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER JOB LISTING ON CRAIG'S LIST 

Concord - The New Hampshire Republican State Committee today posted a job listing for Governor Maggie Hassan's proposed "Chief Operating Officer" position on Craig's List. Applicants must be able to "do the governor's job while she pursues other political opportunities."

"New Hampshire voters elected Maggie Hassan to manage state government - not to hire a highly paid bureaucrat to do her job while she runs for United States Senate. Our state deserves a full time governor in the corner office instead of a self-centered politician like Maggie Hassan who is solely focused on her political ambitions," said NHGOP Chairman Jennifer Horn.

Click Here To Read The Full Chief Operating Officer Job Listing 

Thursday
Feb122015

NHGOP APPLAUDS SENATE RIGHT TO KNOW REFORM BILL 

Legislation Also Forbids Public Employees From Campaigning On Taxpayers' Time

 

Concord - New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn issued the following statement applauding a new bill introduced by Senate Republicans that will strengthen the Right to Know law. New Hampshire Journal reports that the legislation will make it clear that the law applies to the governor's office:        

 

"New Hampshire's Right to Know law clearly applies to the office of the governor, and it is unfortunate that Governor Hassan believes that she should not be held to the same transparency requirements that apply to local boards of selectmen.  We applaud Senate Republicans for working to strengthen this important law and make New Hampshire state government more open and transparent.

 

"Governor Hassan is not above the law, and she should not be able to simply ignore Right to Know requests as she prepares to use the corner office as a stepping stone for her political career. New Hampshire deserves a full-time governor who is focused on moving our state forward instead of moving on to a United States Senate campaign." 

Tuesday
Feb102015

NHGOP CHALLENGES LIKELY SENATE CANDIDATE HASSAN'S INTERPRETATION OF RIGHT TO KNOW LAW 

Concord - New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn today challenged Governor and likely Senate candidate Hassan's response to a recent NHGOP Right to Know request. The party requested Hassan's political travel schedule for January 2015 and will submit similar requests for every month going forward as she gears up to use the corner office as a stepping stone for her United States Senate campaign:

Governor Hassan:

 

            This responds to your recent letter regarding my request under RSA Chapter 91-A, the State's Right-to-Know Law, regarding records relating to Governor Hassan's out-of-state travel.  Your letter raises several troubling issues that call into further doubt the Hassan Administration's commitment to transparency and compliance with the law.

 

            You state that it has been the "long-standing position of the New Hampshire Department of Justice that RSA 91-A does not apply to the Governor's office."  I am asking that you immediately provide all written guidance produced by the Attorney General to that effect.  On its face, this position appears to be completely inconsistent with the very clear legislative intent and requirements under New Hampshire's Right-to-Know Law, as well as Supreme Court precedent.  The preamble to that statute states:

 

Openness in the conduct of public business is essential to a democratic society.  The purpose of this chapter is to ensure both the greatest possible public access to the actions, discussions, and records of all public bodies, and their accountability to the people.

 

RSA 91-A:1.

 

            My request was made pursuant to RSA 91-A:4, I, which provides:

 

Every citizen during the regular or business hours of all public bodies or agencies, and on the regular business premises of such public bodies or agencies, has the right to inspect all governmental records in the possession, custody or control of such public bodies or agencies, including minutes of meetings of the public bodies, and to copy or make memoranda or abstracts of the records or minutes so inspected expect as otherwise prohibited by statute or RSA 91-A:5.

 

RSA 91-A:4, I.

 

            The definition of "public agency" is:

 

"Public agency" means any agency, authority, department, or office of the state or any county, town, municipal corporation, school district, school administrative unit, chartered public school, or other political subdivision."

 

RSA 91-A:1-a, V.

 

            The definition of "governmental records" is:

 

"Governmental records," means any information created, accepted, or obtained by, or on behalf of, any public body, or a quorum or majority thereof, or any public agency in furtherance of its official function. 

 

RSA 91-A:1-a, III.

           

            The governor's office is clearly an "office of the state," and the records I have requested are clearly "governmental records" within the definitions of RSA 91-A.  Even if there were any doubt, the New Hampshire Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that the statute is to be construed broadly:  "Our ultimate goal in construing the Right-to-Know Law is to further the statutory and constitutional objectives of increasing public access to all public documents and governmental proceedings, and to "provide the utmost information to the public about what its government is up to," Prof'l Firefighters of N.H. v. Local Gov't Ctr., 159 N.H. 699, 705 (2010)(quoting Goode v. N.H. Legislative Budget Assistant, 148 N.H. 551, 555 (2002)). 

 

As such, the Supreme Court long ago concluded that, "all State executive branch agencies and departments were meant to be and are included within the provisions of RSA ch. 91-A."  Lodge v. Knowlton, 118 N.H. 574 (1978).  The Attorney General's Memorandum on the Right-to-Know law, available at the Department of Justice's website, states the same thing.  Id. at pp. 3-4 ("The Right-to-Know law establishes a person's right of access to meetings of public bodies and to the records of public bodies and public agencies..."All State executive branch departments and agencies" are subject to records requests).  Over the years, the Supreme Court has determined that RSA 91-A reaches various quasi-governmental agencies, including the Local Government Center and the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority.  Union Leader Corp. v. New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, 142 N.H. 540 (1997).  In the latter decision, the Court noted that the Housing Authority was performing "public and essential governmental functions of the state."  Id

 

It is inconceivable that the Housing Authority meets this test and the office of the governor does not.  In fact, my records request is directed to the most essential of government functions: the discharge of executive authority under the State's Constitution.  As a citizen, the governor is, of course, free to leave the state at any time for personal and political reasons, in addition to official business.  However, as governor, her absence from the State - regardless of the reason - has significant consequences that are clearly matters for public concern. Specifically, Part II, Article 49 of the Constitution provides that, "[i]n the event of the death, resignation, removal from office, failure to qualify, physical or mental incapacity, absence from the state, or other incapacity of the governor, the president of the senate, for the time being, shall act as governor until the vacancy is filled or the incapacity is removed."

 

New Hampshire citizens are entitled to know when executive authority is transferred to the president of the senate under this provision of the New Hampshire Constitution.  Your letter is plainly not fully responsive.  Therefore, I renew my request, under both Part I, Article 8 and RSA 91-A:4, I, for all governmental records within the possession, custody or control of the office of governor, a public agency, relating to the absence of the governor from the state for any reason and at any time during January 2015.  To the extent you withhold any responsive documents, please prepare an index with detailed descriptions.

 

 The Hassan Administration's commitment to transparency has been troubling.  It cannot and should not be true that local boards of selectmen are subject to the Right-to-Know Law but the only state official elected by all New Hampshire citizens, the governor, is not.  Moreover, the recent invocation of "Executive Privilege" - made infamous during a Watergate-era attempt to withhold materials subpoenaed by a special prosecutor, see United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974) - in response to a recent Concord Monitor Right-to-Know request suggests an inclination to stonewall rather than be forthright with Granite Staters.  I hope that practice will end, and that the records I have requested will be promptly produced.    

 

Sincerely,


Jennifer Horn

Chairman

New Hampshire Republican State Committee