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NH Pushes Legislation To Limit Big Money In Politics

Overwhelming Cross-Partisan Majorities Believe Big Money in NH Elections is A Problem

Majority Support “Civic Dollars” Solution

CONCORD, NH — A survey of New Hampshire voters has found that large majorities in both parties believe big money is a problem in state elections, and support a current legislative proposal to fix it.

In the survey just released by Public Policy Polling, eight in 10 voters — including  79% of Democrats, 74% of Republicans and 85% of Independents — said they believe big money is a problem in Granite State elections.

House Bill 1773 would provide voters with four $25 “civic dollars” to donate to candidates for Governor, Executive Council and state Senate who pledge to limit their maximum donation from private donors to $250. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Renny Cushing, also includes other reforms, including stronger requirements to ensure financial transparency of SuperPACs and candidate campaigns, and tougher enforcement of campaign finance laws.

The House Election Law Committee has scheduled a hearing on the bill for January 16 at  10:50 a.m.

When the Civic Dollars proposal was described to the survey’s respondents, 60% said they would support it, including 64% of Democrats and 67% of independent voters. A majority of Democrats (71%) and Republicans (59%) also said they’d be more likely to support a Civic Dollars candidate who limits individual donations to $250 than a candidate who accepts donations up to $7,000.

“Civic Dollars will give New Hampshire voters a stronger voice,” said Olivia Zink, Executive Director of Open Democracy in Concord. “Our elected officials should work for all of their  constituents, not just for the big contributors who put them in office.”

“My lengthy and varied experience in New Hampshire election campaigns has convinced me of the need for a public election financing system as a voluntary alternative for candidates,” former state Senator Jim Rubens said in prepared testimony. “The present purely-private elections finance system seriously restricts participation by otherwise viable candidates for governor, councilor and state senate and narrows the range of debate and policy proposals during campaigns.  The result is fewer choices for voters among candidates and slower progress in solving public policy challenges.  Additionally, the current purely-private system tilts influence away from voters and toward those with money to spend on campaigns.”  Rubens has also served as chair of the GOP platform committee; chair of the 2000 GOP redistricting committee; and on two election finance panels which proposed public election finance legislation.  As candidate for US Senate, he proposed voter tax rebates as a means to provide public finance mechanism for Congressional elections.

Other key findings from the survey include:

•    A majority of respondents (63%) would be likely to contribute their Civic Dollars to qualified candidates, including 70% of Democrats, 54% of Republicans and 67% of Independents.

•    38% of respondents said they were even more likely to support the Civic Dollars program after learning that it would cost less than 1% of the New Hampshire state budget.

•    A plurality of respondents (34%) — including 37% of Democrats, 33% of Republicans and 34% of Independents — think wealthy campaign donors have the most influence in New Hampshire politics. Only 14% said they believe that N.H. voters have the most influence.

UNH Spends Almost $200K To Block Union Organizing Efforts

University reports close to $200,000.00 in payments to law firm to prevent employees from exercising legal right to organize.

CONCORD, April 12, 2017 – The University of New Hampshire has finally provided a partial response to Representative Cushing’s Right to Know request. Earlier this year, Rep. Cushing sent two Right to Know requests to the University seeking, among other things, the names of any outside vendors advising management on anti-union efforts, the amounts paid to these organizations, and copies of communications with these organizations.

In their partial response, the University reported spending $193,565.13 on legal fees and expenses with Jackson Lewis Law Firm from June 2016 to March 2017.

“I’m shocked to find that UNH has spent a couple hundred thousand dollars to hire outside help to fight university employees who simply want to exercise their legal right to collectively bargain,” said Representative Cushing.

“We can assume that there will be additional payments made to Jackson Lewis as the University continues to fight their employees’ efforts to organize,” stated Megan Tuttle, NEA-New Hampshire President. “Is this really the best use of the University’s funds?”

The University noted in their response that “this expense is not being paid from any of the following: state appropriation, tuition dollars or operating funds.”

“Regardless of where the money is coming from, at this point the University has chosen to spend close to $200,000.00 on things other than tuition reduction, campus improvements, or to help make the salaries and benefits of the dedicated OS and PAT staff more competitive,” continued Tuttle.

In addition to asking for information regarding management’s anti-organizing efforts, Rep. Cushing’s request also sought information regarding the University’s outsourcing plans.

“We are aware that the University has hired consultants to find ways to save money.  Far too often, these savings are balanced on the backs of OS and PAT employees,” said Tuttle.

The University declined to provide any information on these topics.

State Representative Cushing stated that he will be looking to take further action to determine the actual source of the funds used to pay Jackson Lewis, and to address the lack of disclosure with the rest of his request for public information.

“I don’t see union busting as a line item anywhere in their budget,” stated Cushing.

A copy of Rep. Cushing’s Right to Know request is available here and below.

RepCushing Right To Know
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