Money in Politics

Todd Bookman for NHPR

Almost all of the Democrats running for president will appear at the state party's convention in Manchester this weekend. But long before many of the candidates started showing up at conventions, cookouts and coffee shops, they’ve been steering money toward local Democratic committees and campaigns here in New Hampshire.

It can be hard to keep track of the details on lobbying spending in New Hampshire. We want to help.

NHPR

The New Hampshire Senate this week approved a proposal to allow political candidates to spend campaign contributions on child care costs.

Supporters say this change will make it easier for young parents to run for elected office. The proposal had drawn criticism from Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who said it would be unfair to donors.

New Hampshire Campaign Finance System

Candidates running for office in New Hampshire can run up a tab on all kinds of expenses: lawn signs, postage, snacks for fundraisers, radio ads, print ads, digital ads and more.

But some lawmakers lean on campaign donations to cover other, less obvious expenses that pile up on the campaign trail, or even while they’re in office: things like car repairs, dry cleaning bills and floral arrangements.

When faced with questions earlier this year about the thousands of dollars paid out from his inaugural committee to his sister and top political advisor, Gov. Chris Sununu’s team said those payments followed state and federal regulations, and “the organization’s bylaws and conflict of interest policy.”

But when NHPR asked to see those bylaws and conflict of interest policy, Sununu’s team declined.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

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.

Ben Vihstadt

A law that passed the year he was elected made Chris Sununu the first New Hampshire governor required to disclose the activities of his inaugural committee. And to hear Sununu tell it, that committee - the Sununu Inaugural Celebration, Inc. - has more than delivered when it comes to transparency.

Facebook Ad Archive

The final weeks of last week’s midterm campaign saw a flurry of partisan activity: Last-minute Facebook ads touting Gov. Chris Sununu’s plan for paid family and medical leave. Fliers criticizing Republican lawmakers “who cozy up to big corporations and special interests.” Phone banks backed by a group called "Families First," encouraging voters to support Democrats on Election Day.

Let's Fix Washington

Sep 18, 2018

Former Congressmen David Jolly, a Republican, and Patrick Murphy, a Democrat, are travelling nationwide as part of their "Let's Fix Washington" initiative.  Jolly and Murphy, who were one-time rivals for a Senate seat, discuss how Congress got to its current state of division and gridlock and how, through bipartisan leadership, the nation’s political systems can function more effectively.  

With six weeks to go until the primary, Congresswoman Annie Kuster’s campaign account is six times the size of the three Republicans who’ve lining up to challenge her — combined.

The fundraising narrative in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District has been consistent from the start of the race: There’s Democrat Maura Sullivan way out in the front of the pack, thanks largely to out-of-state donors and other powerful political allies, and then there’s everyone else.

Jason Moon for NHPR

This week’s Supreme Court ruling limiting the ability of public sector unions to collect "agency fees" from non-members has landed along predictably partisan lines in New Hampshire. 

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

You’ll hear a lot this campaign season about who’s raising the most money — but the most telling parts of a candidate’s fundraising report aren't the details about how much a candidate raked in, but where that money came from.

That’s especially true in the race for New Hampshire governor, where we have a Republican incumbent who can draw on plenty of political and corporate connections, one Democratic challenger who is similarly well-connected to her party’s establishment and another Democrat who says he wants to get big money out of New Hampshire politics.

Given the deep field of candidates and its reputation as "the swingiest congressional district in the nation," New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District has attracted most of the spotlight this year, when it comes to campaign fundraising or otherwise. But there’s also plenty of money flowing into the 2nd Congressional District race — most of it going through the campaign bank account of incumbent Congresswoman Annie Kuster.

Democrat Maura Sullivan continues to blitz past all other candidates running in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional district when it comes to fundraising — and, as was the case during her inaugural months in the race, most of her campaign money continues to come from outside New Hampshire.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

Former Missouri Secretary of State (and possible 2020 presidential candidate) Jason Kander is returning to New Hampshire to headline a major Democratic party fundraiser Saturday night. 

But apart from his occasional appearances at party events over the past few months, Kander’s political committee, Let America Vote, has all the while been building an on-the-ground presence in the Granite State: rallying opposition to Republican-backed voting laws at the State House and support for Democratic candidates in local races. 

Allegra Boverman; NHPR

For two decades, Peter Overby  has examined lobbying, campaign finance, and recently, special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in our elections.  Overby will also shed some light on the rise of so-called "dark" political money.


Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A Democratic senator from Concord is hoping to close a so-called loophole in New Hampshire’s election laws that he says undermines the state’s limits on campaign contributions.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

A bill that would close a loophole that lets business owners make multiple campaign contributions to a single candidate will be up for debate Tuesday at the Statehouse.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The failure of Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Gov. Maggie Hassan to negotiate a deal to limit spending by outside political groups guaranteed that their U.S. Senate race would be the most expensive election in New Hampshire history.

And it is – by far. An unprecedented $127 million has been steered toward the campaign so far. Non-candidate groups account for roughly $96 million, or more than three times what the candidates themselves have spent.

Down in the polls, low on cash and deeply unpopular, Rep. Frank Guinta could use all the help he can get defending his 1st District Congressional seat.

But, adding insult to injury, the incumbent has been all but abandoned by the Republican party’s major lifeline for House candidates. 

Wednesday is the deadline for candidates for state elected office to file campaign finance reports, detailing how much money they’ve raised and spent since the primary.

 

But these reports will give us only a glimpse of how the political dollars are flowing this year.

 

Following trends in recent elections, outside groups are expected to make a considerable investment to try and sway voters before they go to the polls less than three weeks from now.

 

Save the Children Action Network

    

Early-learning programs have always been a tough sell in New Hampshire. Child advocates and educators have tried for years to break lawmakers’ resistance to the idea, yet a proposal to put more 5-year-olds in all-day kindergarten can still roil Concord for months.

A Washington, D.C. political group with deep pockets, a team of lobbyists and a small army of volunteers wants to change that.

Spending by outside political groups in New Hampshire's U.S. Senate race reached $50 million this week, fueled by a recent barrage of negative ads sponsored by a super PAC supporting Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte.

Granite State Solutions has booked an estimated $11 million in TV ads on Boston stations through mid-October. All 2,800 of the 30-second spots, which are scheduled to run through mid-October, attack Ayotte's challenger, Gov. Maggie Hassan. 

Special interest groups spent nearly half a million dollars on the primary races for governor and state Legislature that ended Tuesday, led by a nonprofit social-welfare organization with ties to a prominent Concord lobbying firm.

A Citizen's Survival Guide to Outside Spending

Sep 2, 2016

You might already be overwhelmed by the number of TV ads about this year's U.S. Senate race between Kelly Ayotte and Maggie Hassan.  And if you're like a lot of people, you're confused about who's paying for all these 30-second commercials, and why.

Before you tune it out completely, here's a video guide to navigating the political advertising - and money - behind this important race.

NHPR staff

Ted Gatsas isn’t the first candidate for governor to take advantage of a gap in New Hampshire’s election law that allows wealthy donors to dodge limits on campaign contributions.

But no one has benefited more from the so-called LLC loophole than the Manchester mayor.

 

NHPR

Democrat Colin Van Ostern and Republican Ted Gatsas are leading the cash race in the contest for governor.

Campaign finance reports filed Wednesday show Van Ostern has raised just over $1 million and Gatsas just below that amount, not including a $75,000 personal loan. The totals are significantly higher than their competitors. The primary is Sept. 13.

Republican Rep. Frank Edelblut has contributed $750,000 to his own campaign, giving him the highest cash on hand at this point.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

There's a wide fundraising gap between two of the Democrats hoping to become New Hampshire's next governor.

Candidates are not required to file campaign finance reports until Aug. 24, less than a month before the Sept. 13 primary. But Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern and businessman Mark Connolly filed reports Wednesday, a deadline for non-candidate committees to file.

Spend any time around Sen. Kelly Ayotte or Gov. Maggie Hassan nowadays, and you'll hear repeated assurances that while it may be election season, they remain wholly dedicated to serving New Hampshire.

But take a look at either’s fundraising books in their race for the U.S. Senate, and you'll find plenty of proof that both are also focusing further afield.


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