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State Argues Push-Poll Appeal Before N.H. Supreme Court

NHPR Staff

  The State Supreme Court Thursday considered the question, does New Hampshire have the right to regulate polling conducted by federal political campaigns?

The question arises because of an alleged push-poll conducted for Former Congressman Charlie Bass’ in 2010. The call in question refer to Bass’ opponent congresswoman Annie Kuster’s work for pharmaceutical company which made what the call referred to as a date-rape drug.

At issue isn’t the content of the call, but whether because the poll cost money does it fall under the exclusive purview of the Federal Election Commission, which regulates campaign expenditures.

“Everything costs money, and that type of reasoning would destroy any type of distinction between a regulation of conduct and a regulation of expenditures,” argued Brian Buonamano for the Attorney General.

A lower court decision that the state's push-poll laws do not apply to campaign expenditures for federal offices relied on an FEC advisory opinion. But apart from that opinion this is somewhat uncharted territory.

“Evidently the United States Supreme Court has yet to weigh in on this issue,” observed Justice Gary Hicks.

“Well, depending on what you do they may get a chance,” replied Bass’ attorney Chuck Douglass.

Whether the state has the right to regulate such polls or not, Governor Hassan signed a reform to the New Hampshire push-polling law last month.

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. He shifted gears in 2016 and began producing Outside/In, a podcast and radio show about “the natural world and how we use it.” His work has won him several awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, one national Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club of America's award for best environmental reporting in any medium. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.

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