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Ayotte’s History Of Protecting Special Interests Began With Her Time As Attorney General

Frankly, I am not surprised to find out that Attorney General Kelly Ayotte was not the “champion for working people” she has claimed to be. Her history as Attorney General mirrors her current opposition to policies that will help working people in New Hampshire and her history of trying to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Newly uncovered data shows that while Ayotte served as Attorney General, her office issued dramatically fewer consumer protection subpoenas than her successors. During the four years between July 2005 and July 2009, Ayotte’s office issued a total of only 53 consumer protection subpoenas. That’s less than half the number of consumer protection subpoenas issued during the next four years by the AGs that succeeded her. (Between July 2009 and July 2013, under Attorneys General Michael Delaney and Joseph Foster, a total of 116 consumer protection subpoenas were issued.)

Think back to 2007-08: that was when the housing market collapsed, Wall Street financial institutions were under attack for fraudulent and predatory lending, and working people were being crushed by the collapsing economy.

Wouldn’t you expect that the AG’s office would be inundated with consumer protection claims during that time? Yet Ayotte only issued 30 consumer protection subpoenas between 2007-2009.

As we already know, Ayotte left the AG’s office and was narrowly elected to the US Senate in the off-year, red wave election of 2010.

And ever since going to Washington, Ayotte has been an opponent of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, voting against confirming its director and voting for an amendment that put the agency’s budget on the chopping block “to pressure the agency against cracking down on lenders.”

Her opposition to the CFPB might have something to do with the $4.5 million dollars in donations she has directly received from the finance and insurance industry. Her PAC also received an additional $893,000 in donations for her reelection effort.

“New Hampshire consumers deserve public servants who will fight on their behalf, but it’s clear that Kelly Ayotte puts corporate special interests ahead of the people of our state,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “And now we know she failed to stand up for consumer protection during her time as Attorney General, meaning that her refusal to fight on behalf of New Hampshire consumers is nothing new.”

(Read about Ayotte’s 2015 New York City fundraiser, sponsored by a mega-donor “hedge fund executive who has a history of opposing Wall Street reforms” here.)

There are other examples of how Ayotte has put her Wall Street special interest donors above the people of New Hampshire.

  • Ayotte has repeatedly voted for budgets that slash funding for Pell Grants at the urging of the Koch Brothers’ Americans For Prosperity. And just last year she voted for a bill that would have cut Pell Grants by $90 billion
  • Ayotte voted to end an expansion of the “Pay As You Earn Program,” which could double the cost of student loan payments for those who had enrolled in the program.
  • Ayotte has also repeatedly voted against allowing student borrowers to refinance their loans to take advantage of lower interest rates available to other borrowers.
  • Ayotte introduced a sham student loan bill that has been called that has been called a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Even the conservative American Enterprise Institute said that Ayotte’s bill is a “sweetheart deal” for private sector lenders like those on Wall Street.

Protecting Wall Street is not the only place that Ayotte has been standing against the will of the people.

She has continued to oppose increasing the federal minimum wage, which would help lift tens of thousands of Granite Staters out of poverty. 74% of Granite Staters support raising the minimum wage, yet Ayotte votes against it.

Just this week at the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy forum, Ayotte was peddling the myth of “job losses” if we increase the minimum wage.

“Contrary to the claims we hear from opponents, raising the minimum wage increases the income of low-wage workers without hurting jobs,” said Jeff Kramer in a recent editorial on the NH Labor News.

During a recent WMUR question and answer session, Kelly Ayotte simultaneously admitted that the current minimum wage is not livable and doubled down on her opposition to raising it.

When asked by a participant whether she will “stand with New Hampshire workers to raise the minimum wage,” Ayotte responded “if we focus on the minimum wage, we’re, we’re losing sight of what we should be focusing on, which is better paying jobs because you can’t live on minimum wage.”

Ayotte has also stood by her decision to not hold a hearing or a confirmation vote the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland – even though 60% of Granite Staters believe that Ayotte should do her job and hold a vote on Garland’s nomination.

“People are tired of Senator Ayotte playing politics with the Constitution by refusing to consider the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress.

“Because of Republican obstruction, the Supreme Court finished this year’s term with a 4-4 tie on some of the most important issues to reach the court in recent years, denying justice to millions of our families and neighbors in the process,” said Linds Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with progressive advocacy group People For the American Way.

The last example is Ayotte’s opposition to common sense legislation to reduce gun violence. Ayotte has continually stood with her NRA donors in opposition to expanding background checks and closing loopholes that PolitiFact confirmed helps terrorist purchase guns.

Since opposing the 89% of Granite Staters who support expanding background checks, Ayotte has refused to meet with gun violence prevention advocates.

“Constituents have made phone calls, sent letters, signed petitions, and invited the Senator to their homes for dinner, but Senator Ayotte has repeatedly denied meeting requests from gun violence prevention advocates ever since she voted against background checks and the 89 percent of her constituents who support them,” Rice-Hawkins said. “Senator Ayotte needs to stop hiding behind NRA lobby talking points and meet directly with her constituents.”

It should have been obvious to the people of New Hampshire when Ayotte was Attorney General that she was not looking out for working people. She used the AG’s office as a stepping-stone for higher political office and lucrative campaign donations.

She may have fooled us the first time she ran for Senate, but we will not be fooled again.

60% of Granite Staters believe the Senate should vote on the nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. Ayotte refuses to do so.

74% of Granite Staters support increasing the minimum wage. Ayotte opposes it.

89% of Granite Staters support background checks for gun purchases. Ayotte opposes them.

It couldn’t be any more clear. Ayotte represents her campaign donors, she doesn’t represent us.

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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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