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How Much Did Senator Avard Really Know About The National Right To Work Committee’s PAC Donation Scheme?

Kevin Avard (via Girard FLIKR CC)

Kevin Avard (via Girard FLIKR CC)

Last week we reported on the big expose` that Kevin Landrigan did on the National Right To Work Committee’s shady campaign financing scam.

In short, Kevin found that the NRTWC created multiple Political Action Campaigns to funnel more money to State Senate candidates like Kevin Avard than is legally allowed under New Hampshire Law. Each of these sub-PACs gave Avard the New Hampshire maximum of $1,000 to his campaign.

Then the Nashua Telegraph posted Senator Avard’s response in an article titled: Avard calls campaign contribution story ‘hogwash’.

Avard, a Nashua Republican who defeated incumbent Democrat Peggy Gilmour last November, said he did not have any knowledge about an NH1 investigative piece reporting an organization funneled money into his senate run through up to five groups to avoid campaign finance statutes.

“That’s hogwash – it’s hogwash,” he said. “That’s absolutely absurd. I guarantee nothing illegal happened. … I’m just kind of outraged by this; this is just absolutely just stupid stuff, and you can quote me on that.”

New Hampshire’s Democratic Party said the National Right to Work Committee tried to hide money to anti-union candidates by creating front groups and providing five legitimate donations of $1,000 instead of one illegal $5,000 campaign contribution.

Avard’s general election campaign totaled $18,493, considerably less than the $105,049 in receipts reported by Gilmour, according to the secretary of state’s office.

My friend Keith Thompson who lives in Brookline and is represented by Sen. Avard, brought up some very good points about this article from the Telegraph. He was first to point out these three ideas I will expand on now.

First, the article says that the “New Hampshire’s Democratic Party said the National Right to Work Committee tried to hide money to anti-union candidates…” Actually the report was not from the NH Democratic Party it was from NH1 reporter Kevin Landrigan. The Telegraph even say that in the opening of the article. I hope that Sen. Avard is not claiming the Kevin Landrigan is a puppet for the NH Democrats.

If you have followed New Hampshire politics for longer than a week then you will know one thing that is certain, Kevin Landrigan is anything but partisan. He may lean a little right, but his reporting goes right at the heart of both parties and challenges the political ideologies of both sides. This comes with the decades of experience in New Hampshire Politics.

Second, this highlights the Telegraph’s need for a veteran political reporter. Ever since they laid-off Kevin Landrigan, they have lacked any real political coverage. They do a decent job of merging press releases but they lack the real knowledge and experience a reporter like Kevin brings to the story. Maybe if they had kept Kevin around at the Telegraph everyone would be talking about the Telegraph’s huge story about the NRTWC instead of NH1.

Lastly, I do not know anyone who would believe that Sen. Avard was not aware of these shady financial dealings. Keith hit the nail on the head when he stated, “Answer the question directly, Senator (Avard), ‘Did you have any knowledge of this scheme to circumvent campaign finance rules?’”

Avard reported only raising $18,000 dollars and $5,000 can from some type of  “right to work” group. I bet they even came in the same envelope.

“Kevin Avard has a lot of explaining to do to his constituents and to all Granite Staters about what he knew and when about the shady fundraising scheme that he benefited from,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “These questionable contributions represented more than one-sixth of all total contributions Avard took in during the election, and his claim to NH1 News that he has no idea where they came from simply doesn’t pass the laugh test.”

This type of funding is legal, and Sen. Avard is right when he states, “I guarantee nothing illegal happened.” That is exactly the problem, it should be illegal and this type of shady, underhanded donation scheme is just one more reason we need to get the money out of politics. We need publicly funded elections, and bar elected officials from taking any type of gifts or campaign donations from corporations!

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About Matt Murray

Matt Murray is the creator and an author on the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor and progressive politics. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message. Follow him on Twitter @NHLabor_News
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