Sununu's Inaugural Fund Continues To Rake In Cash From Corporations, Lobbying Firms

Mar 11, 2019

Local lobbying firms and major corporations make up most of the most recent donations to Governor Chris Sununu's inaugural fund, according to the committee’s latest fundraising report.

The Sununu Inaugural Committee raised more than $250,000 since the governor's re-election last November. More than $160,000 of that haul came from corporations and PACs.

More than $33,000 came from lobbying firms or registered lobbyists with business before New Hampshire state government.

(Click here to read the full report.)

Sununu’s inaugural fundraising has come under heightened scrutiny in recent months, after it was revealed that the inaugural committee paid thousands of dollars to Sununu’s family members, political allies and the governor himself during his first term.

The new report shows the governor and his advisor Paul Collins received a combined $2,400 for "expenses" since November, but no additional payments to family members.

The governor’s office did not provide any additional details when asked by NHPR to specify the purpose of those expenses.

“As the report notes, they were for reimbursement of expenses,” Collins, who also serves as the treasurer of the inaugural fund, said in a statement provided through the governor’s spokesman.

The governor’s office also failed to provide a definitive answer when asked whether the inaugural fund contracted with any Sununu family members or affiliated businesses for his second inaugural committee.

“The Sununu Inaugural Celebration will continue to file reports of all receipts and expenditures as required by law,” Collins said.

Just last week, the New Hampshire Senate voted 22-2 to tighten the disclosure rules for inaugural committees — requiring “back-up receipts” for “expenditures totaling more than $1,000 from the inaugural treasurer to the governor-elect or his or her immediate family.”

The same bill would impose a limit of $10,000 on inaugural fund donations.

While the rule is still pending before the New Hampshire House, donors to the governor's inaugural fund appear to be abiding by that threshold at least initially. The biggest checks this time around have come from Bank of America, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, the ride-sharing service Uber, energy company Unitil, North Carolina-based tobacco company RAI Services and Rochester-based Eastern Propane Gas, Inc. Each of those corporations gave $10,000.

Sununu’s inaugural committee also received contributions from four separate companies that share the same Juno Beach, Florida address: $3,333.33 from NextEra Energy Seabrook LLC; $3,333.34 from New Hampshire Transmission LLC; $1,666.66 from Chinook Solar, LLC; and $1,666.67 from W. Portsmouth St. Solar 1 LLC. Together, the donations add up to exactly $10,000. 

NextEra Energy's portfolio in New Hampshire includes the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant, which currently has a license renewal pending before federal nuclear regulators

Asked whether those donors were being treated as distinct donors or a single entity, Collins said “they are four separate entities.”

On the lobbying side, GCG Law Realty LLC — otherwise known as Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell — led the pack, giving Sununu’s inaugural committee $8,000 since November. The firm’s public affairs director, Erik Taylor, also gave an additional $6,000.