The State House Steps

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7 simple steps to clean up Concord, starting with the Governor’s Office

When our elected officials walk up the State House steps, we expect them to put aside the partisan attitude of campaign season. Walking up the State House steps means that they have accepted a responsibility to use their best judgment on behalf of the entire state.

As Governor, Walt Havenstein will restore integrity to New Hampshire’s campaign finance laws, close the Hassan Loophole allowing unlimited PAC contributions, and bring the light of open government back into the Governor’s Office.

Walt Havenstein proposes a simple but sweeping reform to New Hampshire’s ethics laws: The State House Steps.

1)    Independent Campaign Finance Review under the Secretary of State’s Office

The Attorney Office makes no attempt to check campaign finance reports to ensure that candidates, political committees, and political parties are complying with state law. We rely on the two parties to police each other.

By giving the Secretary of State’s Office, long recognized for its independence and impartiality, the authority to review and certify the campaign finance reports it collects, we can ensure that every campaign is playing by the same rules.

Despite his membership on the 2012 Hassan fundraising committee, Attorney General Foster says he “probably will” recuse himself from investigating that campaign’s questionable fundraising practices. New Hampshire deserves impartial enforcement of our campaign finance laws.

2)    Close Hassan Loophole

Political Committees should be held to the same contribution limits as individuals. Candidate committees should not be allowed to accept more than the established limits from any source.

PACs should not be allowed to contribute unlimited funds to candidates before they file for office, who then transfer those unlimited funds to their campaigns after they file.

3)    Real penalties for campaign finance violations.

The Secretary of State’s Office should impose fines on campaigns that accept illegal contributions, in addition to having them return those contributions. Repeated or excessive violations should be referred to the Attorney General’s Office for criminal prosecution.

Maggie Hassan has had to return $33,000 in illegal campaign contributions, but faces no penalty for these serious violations. In fact, she has been allowed to keep thousands more in contributions from union PACs that have failed to comply with New Hampshire law.

4)    Quarterly fundraising reports for elected officials, PACs, and political parties

Incumbents should not be able to raise campaign cash for 18 of their 24 months in office without reporting who’s giving them money.

Members of Congress must file quarterly reports of their fundraising, and New Hampshire officials who raise or spend more than $500 should be forced to do the same.

5)    Ensure that the Governor’s Office is subject to the Right To Know Law

Maggie Hassan claims that the Governor’s Office is completely exempt from New Hampshire’s Right To Know Law. This stretches a narrow exemption for providing confidential advice to the Governor to outrageous lengths, and should be reversed.

The people of New Hampshire have as much Right To Know about the Governor’s Office as they do any state or local government agency. As Governor, Walt Havenstein will bring his office under the Right To Know Law.

6)    Prohibit elected officials and staff from campaigning or fundraising on state property

Not only did Maggie Hassan film her campaign’s television commercial in the Governor’s Office; she used her taxpayer-funded staff to assist her.

She thinks there is nothing wrong in using state employees to run her re-election campaign out of the State House.

As Governor, Walt Havenstein will prohibit campaigning or fundraising by state employees on state property. Political campaigns should stop at the State House steps.

7)    48-hour disclosure rule for all state contracts

Maggie Hassan recently pushed the Executive Council to approve a $292 million contract just two hours after presenting it. Not only did the Council approve a contract it hadn’t read, but the people of New Hampshire never had a chance to see it before the vote.

As Governor, Walt Havenstein will post all proposed contracts at least 48 hours prior to asking the Council for its approval.

Hassan’s failure to notify the Council and the public of such an important contract shows her inability to manage New Hampshire’s finances.