Bill Targets Spending In N.H. Secretary Of State Races

Jan 17, 2019

New Hampshire State House.
Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR
 

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would bar candidates for secretary of state and treasurer from forming political committees.

The proposal is backed by the Secretary of State's office.

Bill Gardner won a 22nd term as New Hampshire's top election official in December. But the tactics of his challenger, fellow Democrat Colin Van Ostern, who raised $225,000 in his effort to unseat Gardner, inspired this bill. GOP Rep David Love is from Derry.

"Our duty is to keep that position non-partisan. And when there's money thrown around it becomes very partisan."

Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan told lawmakers his choice to join this debate might seem self-serving, but he thinks it is crucial to ensure future secretary of state's races don't involve big money.

"When we start going down that road I think we really lose something that is currently special in New Hampshire."

Critics of the bill say it trammels free speech.

Three states -- including New Hampshire -- let lawmakers choose the secretary of state. Maine is the only state that bars secretary of state candidates from forming political committees.