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A Conservative’s Guide to the “Right to Work” Bill

He didn’t talk much about it during his campaign, but apparently the so-called “Right to Work” bill is a top priority of incoming NH Governor Chris Sununu.  The Senate will hold a hearing on his bill this Tuesday – January 10, 2017 – starting at 1:00 pm in the State House, Representatives’ Hall.

Let’s start with the name: “Right to Work”

Do you take citizens’ rights seriously? Then you avoid political rhetoric that would create new “rights.”  Conservatives reject talk about “the right to health care” or “the right to housing” because those “rights” aren’t enumerated in the Constitution.  Neither is “the right to work.”

Yes, the name makes it easy to sell to the public.  Here’s how the Alabama Media Group described Amendment 8: “It also provides you with a plain-spoken, air-tight constitutional right to hold a job and earn a living for yourself and your loved ones.”

Think about that.  “An air-tight, constitutional right to hold a job.”  In a state where four counties have unemployment rates of 10% or more.  What’s going to happen when all those unemployed Alabama citizens want government to deliver on their “right to work”?

SB 11 doesn’t give Granite Staters “the right to work.”  Pretending that it does – just to get the bill passed – dishonors the citizens’ rights that our country was founded on.

Look at what the bill actually does.

“Right to Work” legislation prohibits businesses from negotiating “fair share” provisions into their employment contracts.  Dress the bill up with any title you want – that’s still what it does.  It adds a new layer of government regulation between businesses and their employees.

Under the law right now, employers that want “fair share” provisions in their contracts are allowed to have them.  Remember last time around, when employers testified against this bill?

Employers that don’t want “fair share” provisions don’t have to have them.   The choice is entirely up to the particular employer.

“Right to Work” legislation takes away the employer’s right to make that choice – and substitutes the government’s judgment, instead.

That’s government overreach – not a conservative value.

It restricts employers’ rights to set conditions of employment.

The “Right to Work” bill also creates a troubling legal precedent, by restricting employers’ ability to set terms and conditions of employment.

Under the law right now, employers can require their employees to make “fair share” payments as a condition of employment.  Again, this is entirely the employer’s choice – not the government’s.  (At least, right now it is.)

Right now, employers can require their employees to do all sorts of things as a condition of employment.  Employees can be required to contribute to health insurance costs, or to contribute to a company’s pension plan.  Employees can be required to be members of a particular professional association; or, they can be fired if they join certain organizations the employer doesn’t want to be affiliated with.

But “Right to Work” is a camel’s nose.  If New Hampshire starts down this path, where is it going to stop?  If this Legislature prohibits employers from requiring employees to pay “fair share” contributions, what keeps future Legislatures from prohibiting employee contributions for health insurance?

“Right to Work” encroaches on employers’ rights – and conservatives know: that’s wrong.

It’s probably unconstitutional.

Unions have to represent all employees in the bargaining unit – whether those employees are members of the union, or not.  Right now, unions have the ability – if employers agree – to negotiate contracts with “fair share” provisions so that all employees pay the cost of providing representation.  “Right to Work” takes that possibility away.

Under “Right to Work,” unions are required to provide representation, without being allowed to charge for it.  That’s like lawyers being required to provide legal representation, but leaving it up to their clients to decide whether or not to voluntarily pay for it.  It raises all sorts of Fifth Amendment issues that the Courts are just starting to consider.

Government requiring a private entity to provide its product or services for free goes against everything conservatives believe.  It’s just plain wrong.

It’s a classic example of “government by special interests”

Remember Kevin Landrigan’s expose of political contributions by the National Right to Work Committee?

Maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that this is suddenly Gov. Sununu’s top priority, even though it wasn’t a big campaign issue.

“Right to Work” is a priority for Virginia-based Americans for Prosperity, which is quietly pushing aside the GOP.  In Kentucky, AFP “made over 473,000 phone calls and knocked on over 45,000 doors” in support of state legislative candidates – and the newly-elected Kentucky legislators rewarded that support by immediately passing “Right to Work” last Saturday.

How much support did AFP give to the Sununu campaign?  There’s no way to tell – it’s not registered with the state either as a political party or a political advocacy organization, and at the federal level it is registered as a 501(c)4 “social welfare” organization, so it doesn’t regularly disclose how it spends money or who its donors are.

Without knowing how much support AFP gave to the Sununu campaign, there’s no way to tell how much he thinks he owes them.

But what we do know is that during this election, AFP spent money opposing about a dozen NH Republicans, including Hampstead Rep. Joseph Guthrie, Manchester Rep. Mark Proulx, Salem Rep. Fred Doucette and Sanbornton Rep. Dennis Fields.

It’s not a New Hampshire priority.

“Right to Work” has been considered – and rejected – by the New Hampshire legislature for the past three decades.  Last time around:

  • Our Labor Commissioner testified that he had spoken to about 2,000 business owners during his six years in office – and not one of them suggested the state should adopt “Right to Work.”
  • Our Resources and Economic Development Commissioner said he had met with thousands of businesses over the years – and not once had “Right to Work” ever come up in his discussions, either with current NH businesses or with companies considering moving here.
  • Even the Governor said “In the last seven years of recruiting businesses to move to New Hampshire, not one business leader has ever asked me if New Hampshire had a right-to-work law, let alone suggested it was a factor in the company’s location decision…The debate over the so-called right-to-work bill in New Hampshire appears to be largely driven by national outside interest groups, and is not a result of problems facing New Hampshire businesses or workers.”

It’s not a New Hampshire priority.  So why is it first-out-of-the-box for our brand-new Governor and Legislature?  Is it because of AFP “investment” in our state campaigns?

Do Granite Staters really want a government that puts AFP’s priorities first??

We’ve already repealed it once.

Sherman Adams
NH Governor 1949 – 1953
Chief of Staff to President Dwight Eisenhower 1953 – 1958

New Hampshire adopted a “Right to Work” bill back in 1947.

But it didn’t last long; it was repealed in 1949 by a Republican-led Legislature and a Republican Governor.

Have New Hampshire’s conservative values really changed that much since then?



Shea-Porter Campaign Releases A Bold, Progressive Plan to Reform Congress

Shea-Porter’s Plan Takes On Campaign Finance Reforms, The Revolving Door Of Members Becoming Lobbyists, More Transparency From Lobbyists and Members, And Eliminating Taxpayer Funded Perks

money-in-politicsRochester, NH — Today, the Shea-Porter campaign is releasing a comprehensive plan to reform how Congress does business.  The plan takes direct aim at our broken campaign finance laws, lobbying disclosure, Congressional disclosure, and Congressional perks.

“I promised never to accept corporate PAC or lobbyist donations. I’ve kept my promises to you, but Congress needs to change the way it does business. We have to shut the revolving door. We need to increase transparency in lobbying and Members’ personal financial disclosure reports.  And we need Congress to live within its means and set an example. That means getting rid of the perks. The abuse of franking privileges needs to stop. I have personally never charged taxpayers for first class, but if Members wish to fly First Class, they should not charge taxpayers for the upgrade. And although Members do not get free health care for life, I propose a law so it can never happen,” said Carol Shea-Porter.

The Shea-Porter plan is a set of proposals to reform campaign finance laws, shut the revolving door, improve lobbying disclosure, get rid of the perks, and require more disclosure from Members of Congress. It requires Super PACs to disclose their donors, expands the cooling off period for lobbyists, and forces them to report more of their activities. It also improves the disclosure forms Members of Congress must file, narrowing the reporting ranges for assets and stock trades and making the data available in electronically usable format.

Shea-Porter is taking on Campaign Financing directly by:

  • Close the Super PAC loophole to make incorporated entities who give money reveal their funding sources so voters know who is trying to influence our elections
  • Match small dollar donations so our representatives spend less time fundraising and more time serving you
  • Most importantly, we need to get rid of the Citizens United decision that allowed unlimited anonymous spending. We need a Constitutional Amendment that states very clearly that corporations are not people and that Congress and the states have the power to regulate money in federal elections, so we can re-impose reasonable limits on campaign spending

Shea-Porter proposal also wants to close the revolving door of members becoming lobbyists by:

  • Prohibit all lobbyists from lobbying their Congressional colleagues or former office for at least 2 years. This applies to all former senior Congressional and Administration staff as well
  • Close the so called “senior advisors” loophole employed by lobbyists to get around registration requirements
  • Take away all special privileges, like access to the House Dining Room, for Members that become lobbyists, for as long as they are lobbyists

You can see more details on improving lobbying disclosure, increasing transparency from members, and eliminating taxpayer funded perks in the full plan found here.

NH Towns Demand Action on Campaign Finance Reform

NH RebellionResolutions passed 15 town meeting with 2-1 margins or higher

CONCORD — “Fight big money politics” was the strong message sent  to state and federal representatives from another 15 New Hampshire towns this town meeting season.  To date, 77 towns have passed campaign finance resolutions in the last three years, and more towns already planning efforts for 2017.

“Our NH legislature and U.S.Congress seem to be ignoring their constituents’ wishes,” said Brian Beihl, interim director of Concord-based NH Rebellion.  “Multiple surveys now show that 80% of Republicans and 83% of Democrats want to see the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision overturned, yet the NH House defeated the creation of a committee to study what options we had,” Beihl said.

This year’s “We the People” Agenda to Fight Big Money appeared on 16 town warrants or ballots, and in towns where ballots were used rather than voice votes, the resolution typically won by a 2-1 margin or wider. The effort failed in only one town, Grafton, only 19 votes, and  where a less comprehensive resolution failed by 141 votes last year.   Municipalities approving the agenda included Albany, Antrim, Bethlehem, Brookline, Effingham, Epping, Exeter, Goffstown, Hopkinton, Marlborough, Mason, Milford, Salem, Temple, and Wilton.

The “We the People” Agenda  asks the next President and Congress fight big money politics and restore government of, by, and for the people, including banning Super PACs and overturning Citizens United; exposing secret donors and require full transparency; banning bribes from big-money lobbyists and government contractors; establishing small donor, citizen-funded elections; ending gerrymandering and modernizing voter registration; and closing loopholes and enforcing campaign finance laws.  


Included in the resolutions were instructions from the voters to inform each town’s state and federal representatives, and the President of the United States, via a letter from the towns’ selectmen.   

Just this past week, the NH Senate killed SB425, a bill sponsored by Sen. David Pierce (D) of  Lebanon, which would have addressed the partisan gerrymandering that the “We the People” Agenda challenges.  The Senate, however, blocked the bill sending the bill to interim study.

“The voters of New Hampshire should be choosing their legislators; legislators should not be drawing district lines to choose their voters,” said Sen. Pierce. “SB425 would have enacted needed reforms and removed partisan politics from the process of drawing election district lines by creating an independent redistricting commission that would propose, not mandate, where the district lines are to be drawn after the 2020 census. I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the entrenched politicians in the Senate majority chose to defeat this legislation and stick with the partisan process,”  Senator Pierce said.

There have been numerous bills brought forth this term in both the NH House and Senate, including establishing a committee to study alternatives to Citizens United, donation transparency, electronic reporting of political donations, and anti-corruption safeguards.  Almost all the bills thus far have been defeated or tabled.  

Nationally, a June 2015 New York Times poll found 84 percent said money has too much influence on campaigns, with even more saying the campaign funding system needs to be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt.

“The items in this agenda are common sense reforms,” Beihl said.  “We talked with thousands of NH Primary voters this past year, and whether they were Bernie Sanders supporters or Donald Trump supporters, the support for these items was overwhelming.   With the “We the People” Agenda, voters had a means of sending a message — loud & clear — that legislators need to start listening to We the People,”  he said.   

For more information about NH Rebellion’s warrant article initiative in 2017, contact NH Rebellion at NHRebellion.org.

Leo W Gerard: One Percenters Get Their Own Special Social Welfare Deal

Image by Democracy Chronicles on CC FLIKR

Image by Democracy Chronicles on CC FLIKR

One percenters have it all, extra houses, extra cars, even an exclusive legal defense if they kill, “affluenza,” to keep them out of jail.

But until last week, they felt unfairly denied access to the benefits of social welfare organizations, United Way, Habitat for Humanity and the like. Now, these are rich people, so they wanted special social welfare groups, ones that would solely benefit rich people. And that’s exactly what they got.

The Internal Revenue Service gave it to them. The IRS declared that an association called Crossroads GPS is a nonprofit social welfare group. That makes Crossroads GPS a sibling to agencies like Little Sisters of the Poor, the American Red Cross, and the Humane Society. Except that Crossroads, spawned by Republican strategist Karl Rove, spends every clandestine million dollars it collects to benefit the rich, not to help hurricane victims or homeless veterans or abandoned puppies.


Citizens United Carpet Bombing Democracy Image by DonkeyHotey on Flickr.

The IRS took five years to review the Crossroads GPS application for nonprofit social welfare status. This seems very odd since Crossroads GPS spent every donated dollar – about $330 million – on politics, either to fund its own campaigns to smear liberal candidates and causes or to fund other organizations devoted to smearing liberal candidates and causes.

Most Americans would need only five minutes to determine that such a group is about politics, not social welfare. And, as a political group, it should not receive the tax breaks that are justly awarded to organizations that serve society by mentoring foster kids and delivering hot meals to elderly shut-ins.

But now, because of the IRS decision, Crossroads GPS doesn’t have to pay taxes on the hundreds of millions it spends to influence elections for the benefit of the one percent. But, probably more important to Crossroads GPS, it can keep its fat cat donors’ names secret because nonprofit social welfare groups are donor disclosure exempt as well as tax exempt.

For actual social welfare groups, this may come from the admonishment in the New Testament that, “when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you.”

But Crossroads donors don’t give a damn about charity. Their only interest is self-interest. They are attempting to elect politicians who will implement policy to further enrich the rich.

They don’t want to sound a trumpet about their bribes, sorry, political gifts, because they don’t want anyone to know who they are. For these donors, there could be repercussions if the public discovered them.

For example, if the CEO of a corporation whose primary customers were Latinos gave millions of dollars to a presidential candidate who said undocumented immigrants were rapists and drug dealers, the stock might suffer.

But now the CEO can surreptitiously slide money to Crossroads GPS with the absolute assurance that his name will never be revealed.

Also, some of this dark money is drawn directly from corporate coffers, not from CEO pockets. Stockholders may be generally unhappy with the amount of corporate money spent on politics but enraged if they knew it went to groups they loathe like Crossroads GPS.

One percenters expect a return on these political investments and have made that increasingly clear. Here’s what Republican lobbyist and donor Theresa Kostrzewa told the New York Times, “Donors are demanding a lot these days, man, and they want answers and they want results.  .  . Donors consider a contribution like, “Well, wait, I just invested in you. Now I need to have my say; you need to answer to me.’”

Tens of millions of dollars secretly “invested” with Crossroads GPS will buy a few answers. Three clandestine Crossroads GPS donors in 2012 gave more than $10 million each.  Fifty-three secret donors gave more than $1 million.

Five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court set this in motion with the democracy-killing Citizens United decision, which handed the one percent license to buy elections. In October, the New York Times reported that one result is that not since before the Watergate scandal have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a presidential campaign. The total, the Times found, was $176 million from just 158 one percenters and their companies.

That was the reported money from the reported donors. The American public will never know the rest of the story on “nonprofit social welfare” groups’ political spending.

Even before Crossroads GPS, the IRS had granted social welfare status to virtually every political group that sought it, from the right wing Koch network to the liberal David Brock American Bridge 21st Century Foundation. The decision on Crossroads GPS is significant only because of the group’s enormous wealth.

In the last presidential election, right-wing dark money groups like Crossroads GPS spent $125 million and liberal groups spent $35 million.

The IRS tried to write rules governing these groups, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did the bidding of right-wingers and inserted in last year’s spending bill two provisions to stop that.

One of Mitch’s provisions prohibits the IRS for the next two years from issuing rules defining social welfare. The other blocks the Securities and Exchange Commission from forcing corporations to disclose their donations to dark-money groups.

So thanks to Mitch, one percenters can continue for at least two more years to depend on their dark money to feed politicians like foie gras geese, with every expectation of the same rich return.

Ayotte Calls On Maggie Hassan To Take The People’s Pledge – No I am Not Joking

Kelly Ayotte 3 (Gage Skidmore)Senator Ayotte makes a mockery of the Campaign Finance Reform movement by calling on Governor Hassan to sign the “People’s Pledge”

After voting to block a bill to reverse the disastrous Citizens United decision Senator Ayotte is now calling for her Democratic opponent to take the “people’s pledge” to keep third party spending out of the race for NH’s U.S. Senate seat. (Full text of the People’s Pledge below.)

In her press release Ayotte said:

“… I believe New Hampshire voters deserve a campaign that focuses on the issues they care about most,” Kelly wrote. “I also believe that we owe it to the people of New Hampshire to have an honest discussion of our respective records and stand behind the ads run on our behalf. But excessive spending by third party special interest groups threatens to drown out New Hampshire voices in our race and undermine the meaningful debate that our citizens expect and deserve.”

It is ironic that she would be calling on Hassan to take the People’s Pledge after she routinely rejects attempts to reverse the overwhelming amount of money pouring into our elections from unknown billionaires and unnamed corporations.

“Ayotte said she supports reform in Washington, especially federal tax reform, but said she doesn’t support campaign finance reform efforts that seek to change the U.S. Constitution.”
[Union Leader, 1/7/15

(Ayotte) I think that on terms of campaign finance, one thing that I need to understand is that, if you look at Citizens United, it’s decided under the first amendment of the constitution. And I’ll be honest, the constitution’s important to me, as I know it is to all of you. And so, if we’re going to look at amending the constitution, I think that’s very, very tricky and can be very dangerous. And so I worry when I see proposals that are amending the first amendment of the constitution, because I’m not sure we’re going to get it as even as half as good as the people that drafted the constitution, and so I can’t support that. “ [American Bridge, Youtube, 6/12/15]

Just today, Ayotte doubled down on her opposition to reversing Citizens United in an interview with Fosters Daily Democrat.

“I’m certainly open at looking at ways to address the issue as long as they’re even handed and as long as they’re not rewriting the Constitution.”

Previously she’d said that reversing Citizens United would be “absurd” and called for more dark money groups like the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity. And last week, she voted against a measure that would have required big oil companies to disclose their political spending. 

 The Americans for Prosperity spent well over a million dollars on ads in 2015 attempting to discredit Governor Hassan all to benefit Ayotte in the upcoming election. 

“Kelly Ayotte’s attempts to erase her record of siding with special interests over the people of New Hampshire are so transparent as to be laughable,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “Not only has she consistently opposed efforts to reform our campaign finance system and overturn Citizens United but she’s happily accepted millions in special interest money and has a record of voting with the Koch Brothers nearly 90% of the time.”


Full text of the People’s Pledge: 

The Candidates on behalf of their respective campaigns hereby agree to the following:

  • In the event that a third party organization airs any independent expenditure broadcast (including radio), cable, satellite, or online advertising in support of a named, referenced (including by title) or otherwise identified Candidate, that Candidate’s campaign shall, within three (3) days of discovery of the advertisement buy’s total cost, duration, and source, pay 50% of the cost of that advertising buy to a charity of the opposing Candidate’s choice.
  • In the event that a third party organization airs any independent expenditure broadcast (including radio), cable, satellite, or online advertising in opposition to a named, referenced (including by title) or otherwise identified Candidate, the opposing Candidate’s campaign shall, within three (3) days of discovery of the advertisement buy’s total cost, duration, and source, pay 50% of the cost of that advertising buy to a charity of the opposed Candidate’s choice.
  • In the event that a third party organization airs any broadcast (including radio), cable, or satellite advertising that promotes or supports a named, referenced (including by title) or otherwise identified Candidate, that Candidate’s campaign shall, within three (3) days of discovery of the advertisement buy’s total cost, duration, and source, pay 50% of the cost of that advertising buy to a charity of the opposing Candidate’s choice.
  • In the event that a third party organization airs any broadcast (including radio), cable, or satellite advertising that attacks or opposes a named, referenced (including by title) or otherwise identified Candidate, the opposing Candidate’s campaign shall, within three (3) days of discovery of the advertisement buy’s total cost, duration, and source, pay 50% of the cost of that advertising buy to a charity of the opposed Candidate’s choice.
  • The Candidates and their campaigns agree that neither they nor anyone acting on their behalf shall coordinate with any third party on any paid advertising for the duration of the 2016 election cycle. In the event that either Candidate or their campaign or anyone acting on their behalf coordinates any paid advertisement with a third party organization that Candidate’s campaign shall pay 50% of the cost of the ad buy to a charity of the opposing Candidate’s choice.
  • The Candidates and their campaigns agree to continue to work together to limit the influence of third party advertisements and to close any loopholes (including coverage of sham ads) that arise in this agreement during the course of the campaign.

NH Rebellion Calls on Trump to Make Good on his Statements and Release a Campaign Finance Reform Agenda

Image by Gage Skidmore

Image by Gage Skidmore

Welcoming Donald Trump back to the Granite State today, one day after his latest statement in favor of campaign finance reform, the grassroots organization NH Rebellion called on the businessman to get specific about how he plans to fix America’s broken political system.

“Mr. Trump started his presidential campaign by talking about how our politicians ‘are controlled fully by the lobbyists, by the donors and by the special interests’ – that’s a direct quote from his announcement speech,” said NH Rebellion Executive Director Dan Weeks.

“He has talked a lot about the issue throughout his campaign. It seems to be part of Mr. Trump’s stump speech, and it really resonates with the voters,” Weeks observed.  “Just yesterday, he was on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ saying he supports campaign finance reform.”

“Now, we’re calling on him to put some action behind his comments – to not just keep talking about the problem, but also to tell us exactly what he’s going to do to fix it,” Weeks said.

The Rebellion is promoting its “We the People” Pledge to #FightBigMoney, which includes six bipartisan solutions to the problem of donor influence.   Solutions in the Pledge include: full disclosure of secret donors; banning SuperPACs and overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling; small-donor citizen funding of elections; limiting undue influence from lobbyists and government contractors; ending gerrymandering and modernizing voter registration; and fully enforcing campaign finance laws.  (Take the Pledge yourself here!)

Over the last year, NH Rebellion activists have questioned the presidential candidates hundreds of times to demand their support of the “We the People” pledge, and won commitments from all three Democratic candidates. Republican candidates, including Donald Trump, have voiced broad support for portions of the Pledge, and the group is actively seeking specific commitments ahead of the New Hampshire primary.  A full review of candidates’ statements, including videos taken by activists as Town Hall forums can be found at www.questionR.us

“We were glad to hear Mr. Trump disavowing SuperPACS last October,” Weeks said.  “We were happy to hear, in his media statement, that he himself ‘will not be controlled by the donors, special interests and lobbyists who have corrupted our politics and politicians for far too long.’  But he still hasn’t explained how he would fix things, other than having candidates self-fund their own campaigns like he does.”

“I am sure Mr. Trump has a plan to solve this problem, some solution other than only allowing rich people to run for president,” Weeks said.  “We are calling on him to use his visit to Concord today to announce some specifics of his plan.”


nh_rebellionThe NH Rebellion is a cross-partisan movement drawing attention to the issue of money in politics.  The group was inspired by the legendary “Granny D,” who walked across America to raise support for the campaign finance efforts of Sen. John McCain and Sen. Russ Feingold.  To date, about 2,000 members of the Rebellion have walked a total of more than 30,000 miles, through all kinds of weather, raising awareness about big money in politics.  www.nhrebellion.org

Upcoming events include:

Wednesday, January 20th starting at 6:00 pm in the Aldermanic Chambers of Manchester City Hall: “Faithful Democracy,” a panel discussion of faith leaders including Sr. Simone Campbell of NETWORK/Nuns on the Bus and Patrick Carolan of the Franciscan Action Network.

Thursday, January 21st starting at 10:00 am in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building in Concord: press conference commemorating the sixth anniversary of Citizens United, about reform efforts in the context of the presidential campaign.  Followed by a full day of actions held in conjunction with the US Rebel Alliance, a non-partisan group using the cultural energy of Star Wars to fight political inequality. www.usrebelalliance.org

February 5 – 7, in Veterans Park, Manchester: “We the People Convention” featuring presidential candidates, national reform leaders and entertainers, educational and artistic programming in a huge heated tent.  http://www.nhrebellion.org/convention

NH CD1 Primary — Look Who’s Supporting Guinta

Rep. Frank Guinta

Rep. Frank Guinta

No surprise: in the wake of Rep. Frank Guinta’s agreement to pay a fine for federal election law violations, Dan Innis is expected to run for Congress again.

Party officials are supposed to stay neutral until after primary elections. At least that’s the way it used to be, back when politics was still about parties – and not about money.

But look at Frank Guinta’s first quarter FEC report. Looks like House GOP leadership has already staked out a position in this election.

  • Friends of [House Speaker] John Boehner: $2,000 contribution to Guinta for the 2016 primary election, another $2,000 for the 2016 general election – both contributions given on March 20, 2015.
  • The Freedom Project, John Boehner’s Leadership PAC: $5,000 contribution to Guinta for the 2016 primary, another $5,000 for the general election – both contributions given on March 20, 2015.
  • [House Majority Leader] Kevin McCarthy for Congress campaign committee: $2,000 contribution to Guinta for the 2016 primary election, another $2,000 for the 2016 general election – both contributions given on March 26, 2015.
  • Majority Committee PAC, Kevin McCarthy’s Leadership PAC: $5,000 contribution to Guinta for the 2016 primary, another $5,000 for the general election – both contributions given on March 26, 2015.
  • [House Majority Whip Steve] Scalise for Congress campaign committee: $2,000 contribution for the 2016 general election – given on March 27, 2015.
  • Eye of the Tiger PAC, Steve Scalise’s Leadership PAC: $5,000 contribution for the 2016 primary election – given on March 27, 2015.
  • CMR PAC, the Leadership PAC of House Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers: $2,500 for the 2016 primary election – given on March 31, 2015.
  • [Republican Policy Committee Chairman] Luke Messer for Congress campaign: $1,000 contribution for the 2016 primary – given on March 31, 2015.
  • Prosperity Action PAC, the Leadership PAC of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan: $5,000 for the 2016 primary election – given on March 26, 2015.

It was unanimous. Not a single member of House GOP Leadership failed to make a contribution to Frank Guinta – directly, through their PAC, or both – during the weeks immediately before Guinta agreed to pay his fine to the FEC. Contributions not just for the 2016 general election, but also for the 2016 primary – when Guinta would, presumably, be running against another Republican.

Gotta wonder how former NHGOP Finance Chair Dan Innis feels, about the fact that the entire House GOP Leadership has already contributed to his opponent in the race.

Read an insider’s take on Guinta’s Q1 fundraising here.

Read more about Guinta’s agreement with the FEC here.

Stamp Stampede Marching July 4th to #GetMoneyOut of Politics

2015-04-18 statelineThe anti-corruption group The Stamp Stampede will join presidential candidates and citizens celebrating Independence Day at parades in Amherst and Merrimack, and will also appear at a NH Rebellion rally in Portsmouth.

The Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally rubber-stamping anti-corruption messages on US currency.  About 1,000 of those Stampers live in New Hampshire.   More than 130 Granite State small businesses host “Stamping Stations” where customers can learn more about the issue of #MoneyInPolitics, can stamp their money and can get their own stamp.  Stamp messages include “Corporations are Not People – Amend the Constitution,” “Stamp Money out of Politics,” and “Not to Be Used for Bribing Politicians.”  Every stamped dollar bill is seen by about 875 people, which means one person stamping four bills a day can get their message out to a million people.

Both Lincoln Chafee and Lindsey Graham, who are expected at the parades, have already endorsed a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

Around the country, 16 states and more than 600 cities and towns have called for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and allow limits on political spending.  Here in the Granite State, 69 municipalities have passed resolutions calling on Congress to begin the process of amending the Constitution.

A recent New York Times poll found broad bipartisan support for changing the way political campaigns are financed. 84% of Americans think “money has too much influence” and 85% think that elected officials “promote policies that directly help the people and groups who donated money to their campaigns.”

Here in New Hampshire, more than two-thirds of residents support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

The Stampede will bring the Amazing Amend-O-Matic Stampmobile and Stampede Pedaller to the Independence Day festivities.

The NH Rebellion Rally in Portsmouth will also feature free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.  Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, founded the Stamp Stampede in 2012.


The Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally stamping messages on our nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As more and more stamped money spreads, so will the movement to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

You can get your own stamp online at www.stampstampede.org. Or, if you’re a member of CWA, you can get a stamp from your LPAT coordinator. The average stamped bill is seen by 875 people – which makes stamping a highly-effective way to get the message out about how money in politics is corrupting our government.

It’s time to #GetMoneyOut of politics and take back our government.

Making Progress in the Campaign Finance Reform Movement

Stamp Stampede Founder Ben Cohen with the Stampmobile at the Green Alliance "Party for the Planet" at Red Hook Brewery in Portsmouth.

Stamp Stampede Founder Ben Cohen with the Stampmobile at the Green Alliance “Party for the Planet” at Red Hook Brewery in Portsmouth.

The Stamp Stampede is on the move in New Hampshire!

The Stamp Stampede recently celebrated two huge milestones:

  • 1,000 stamps sold in the Granite State
  • 125 small businesses hosting Stamp Stampede “stamping stations.”

In upcoming weeks, the Stampede will also introduce the “Stampede Pedaller” – a people-powered version of the Amazing Amend-O-Matic Stampmobile.

The Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans supporting efforts to overturn Citizens United by legally rubber-stamping anti-corruption messages on US currency. Every stamped dollar bill is seen by about 875 people as it circulates through the local economy – which makes stamping money a highly-effective way for citizens to show their support for the grassroots movement to get money out of politics.

The Stampede plans to recruit 6,500 stampers in New Hampshire and stamp four million dollar bills in the region before next February’s #FITN Presidential primary.

Jonathan Clarke of Manchester volunteers as a Stampmobile driver, as well as stamping currency.  “I know that we have a problem coming together in this country, and I want to be part of the solution,” he said. “I like to support an organization that feels the same way I do. I feel like by joining, I’m helping to push this country back in the right direction.”

Karma Tattoo in Hooksett has one of the more than 125 small-business stamping stations around the state.  “I think the idea of using money to fight money in politics is awesome!” said owner Melissa Nolan. “Looking around, you don’t feel like you have any power to do anything. Stamping money is easy, and it gets people who don’t know much talking and learning about the issue.”

Jim Palmer and Anita Lowry, owners of the Live Free Caffe in Dover, advertised their stamping station on their Facebook page.  “Stop in and stamp your money. Let the politicians know how you feel! The government should serve everyone, not just the big corporations and the 1%ers.”

So far, 69 New Hampshire municipalities have passed local resolutions calling for a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and allow states to regulate campaign finance.  Polls show that more than two-thirds of New Hampshire voters – including 61% of Granite State Republicans – support a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

The Amazing Amend-O-Matic Stampmobile is a Rube Goldberg device that sends money through a tortuous journey up the “Tower of Corrupted Power” and down past “Corpo Man” and “Money Mouth” before stamping it with the Stampede message of the day.  It’s a crowd-pleasing piece of mechanized post-industrial art – which the Stampede brought to New Hampshire to keep all our presidential candidates company. It will be featured at local fairs and festivals throughout the summer.

The Stampede Pedaller is smaller and people-powered, just like the Stampede.  It’s a bicycle that turns into a mobile stamping station, complete with balloons, flag and photo op.  Like the Stampmobile, it attracts attention – but it’s easier to get into places where the #GetMoneyOut message might otherwise not be heard.  The Stampede plans to formally unveil it this weekend during Laconia Bike Week.


The Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally stamping messages on our nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As more and more stamped money spreads, so will the movement to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

You can get your own stamp online at www.stampstampede.org. Or, if you’re a member of CWA, you can get a stamp from your LPAT coordinator. The average stamped bill is seen by 875 people – which makes stamping a highly-effective way to get the message out about how money in politics is corrupting our government.

It’s time to #GetMoneyOut of politics and take back our government.

Guinta $$ for Settlement: “What got promised in return?”

By Paul Brochu, Stamp Stampede Lead Organizer

Not2BUsed_NHRebellionI’ve had a lot of interesting conversations while working for the Stamp Stampede.  Last week, one of them was with a woman who used to do political fundraising for a US congressman.

She gave me an “insider’s view” of the recent settlement between Congressman Frank Guinta and the Federal Election Commission. After a four-year investigation, the Guinta campaign agreed in April to pay a $15,000 fine and refund a $355,000 loan.

The former fundraiser’s first point was that Guinta really benefitted from the timing of the announcement.

She said that under normal circumstances, the FEC investigation should have been a career-ender.  The $15,000 “administrative penalty” is a high fine, by FEC standards.  Only six other House campaigns have ever received higher fines – and only one of those candidates is currently a Congressman.

But the agreement was released early in Guinta’s two-year term of office.  Yes, there was a flurry of media coverage after the announcement, but that’s already beginning to die down.  And New Hampshire is in the throes of a #FITN primary season featuring two dozen presidential candidates.

“If I was Frank Guinta and I couldn’t persuade the FEC to drop their investigation,” she said, “then I would take an enforcement agreement and get it public using exactly this same timing.  It’s basic campaign strategy: we call it ‘inoculation.’  If you can’t make a problem go away, then you get it out in the press early so it will be old news by the time the election rolls around.”

Her second point was more troubling.  At the end of last year, Guinta’s campaign had a cash-on-hand balance that was just barely enough to pay the FEC fine – and not anywhere near enough to pay back the $355,000.  Then there was a flurry of high-dollar fundraising in the first quarter of this year.

“It looks to me like that $300,000 in Q1 fundraising made it possible for the Guinta campaign to sign the FEC agreement and get the investigation over with,” she said.  “But I have to wonder.  What got promised in return for all those donations?

“Political fundraising is like hunting, it has seasons,” she explained.  “You don’t usually fundraise right after an election.  Donors have just given; and you don’t want to seem greedy, you don’t want go back to the same well so soon.”

After the 2012 election, Guinta’s campaign didn’t report any contributions at all until nine months into the next election cycle.  But this time around, donors were “maxing out” almost immediately after the 2014 election – and they were giving the maximum donation not just for next year’s primary, but also for the 2016 general election.

“What were all those donors thinking?  Or, rather, what did they know?” she sked me.  “These are sophisticated donors.  They didn’t just wake up the last week in March and all decide to send large sums of money to the Guinta campaign.  It’s pretty obvious that the campaign solicited the money, and the timing of that solicitation must have raised some eyebrows.  If you’re fundraising out-of-season, there’s a reason.  And I can’t believe that no one asked what that reason was.”

Did former New Hampshire Governor Craig Benson know about the then-pending FEC enforcement agreement?  On March 31st, he “maxed out” for a general election that was still 18 months away.  The previous cycle, Benson made his general election contribution just three weeks before the election.

What about the folks at the Koch Industries PAC?  They donated $5,000 on March 27th.  Last time, they didn’t start contributing until much later in the election cycle.

Did the “Friends of John Boehner” question the timing?  The Guinta campaign reported receiving donations on March 20th for both the 2016 primary and the 2016 general election.  Last time around, the Friends of John Boehner didn’t donate anything at all until two weeks after the primary.

“I just wonder what was behind all those super-early donations,” the woman told me.  “I’ve done the ‘Dialing for Dollars’ thing during the off-season, myself.  Donors asked ‘What’s going on, why are you calling me now?’

“And after I answered,” she said, “they’d tell me what they wanted my boss to do.”

She’s had enough of political fundraising and, like tens of thousands of other Americans, she’s now part of the Stamp Stampede.  She’s working to #GetMoneyOut of politics by legally rubber-stamping anti-corruption messages on US currency.  Her favorite stamp says “Not to be Used for Bribing Politicians.”

“It’s just crazy,” she said.  “You’re there in your little cubicle making notes on the call sheet, what the donors care about, even the specific bill numbers. And you don’t ever tell them ‘no’.”


The Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally stamping messages on our nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As more and more stamped money spreads, so will the movement to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

You can get your own stamp online at www.stampstampede.org. Or, if you’re a member of CWA, you can get a stamp from your LPAT coordinator. The average stamped bill is seen by 875 people – which makes stamping a highly-effective way to get the message out about how money in politics is corrupting our government.

It’s time to #GetMoneyOut of politics and take back our government.

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