Money in Politics | New Hampshire Public Radio

Money in Politics

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.


Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign raised $26.4 million last month, beating the campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders financially for the first time in 2016.

Sanders has routinely outpaced Clinton in fundraising this year thanks to a dedicated base of small donors. But these latest numbers indicate a political pivot; Clinton's fundraising is accelerating while Sanders' is slowing.

Republican Congressman Frank Guinta is facing a fresh obstacle in his quest to keep his seat: The formation of an outside money group to back one of his rivals.

Republican businessman Rich Ashooh is the benefactor of a newly formed super PAC, which can raise unlimited sums of money from individuals. The group's financial backers aren't yet known, but Matt Mowers, a former executive director of the state GOP, is helping run it.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

As a former lobbyist for the New Hampshire banking industry, Jerry Little had little trouble raising money for his 2014 campaign for state Senate.

 

Of the more than $100,000 in contributions Little collected, more than a third came from donors with ties to the financial sector. Little, a Republican, went on to win his race by a comfortable margin.

 

Ayotte Airs First TV Ad in Senate Race Against Hassan

Feb 29, 2016

Three weeks after the First in the Nation Presidential Primary, nine months before the November election, and New Hampshire is already on to a new round of political ads.

It began today with a 30-second spot from Sen. Kelly Ayotte, which features her 11-year-old daughter, Kate.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Here's a twist in an election year in which the role of money is a dominant theme: A Super PAC created to blunt the influence of Super PACs in key political races is jumping into the Senate contest between Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Gov. Maggie Hassan.

With the 2016 presidential campaign now entrenched in Nevada and South Carolina, local television stations are closing the books on the New Hampshire Primary.

Sara Plourde/NHPR

One of the more closely-watched Senate contests of 2016 won’t be bound by a so-called people’s pledge after all.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, the Republican incumbent, and Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan have failed to reach an agreement to limit the influence of outside political groups in the race.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

For months after announcing his White House bid, Bernie Sanders didn’t run a single campaign commercial on television. But he was everywhere online: emails, social media posts and paid ads on desktop computers and mobile devices.

Sanders has spent $10 million building a presence on the Internet, more than anyone else running for president this year. While the Vermont senator has hardly turned his back on TV, he’s betting that the voters most likely to embrace his vision for the country are online, not in front of a 50” flat-screen.

Donald Trump likes to point out that, unlike everyone else running for president in 2016, he’s got the money to pay his own way to the Republican nomination.

Bernie Sanders may be running an unconventional campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. But to close the sale with New Hampshire voters, he has put his money on a rather conventional means: television advertising.

Brian Wallstin for NHPR

When Bill Binnie launched WBIN-TV in 2011, less than a year after losing the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat, his goal was to bring more competition to New Hampshire political coverage.

Binnie had another incentive, of course: The tens of millions of dollars spent on political advertising during the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

Sara Plourde/NHPR

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is waving off super PACS that want to help him.

In an email Monday to supporters, his campaign manager Jeff Weaver says Sanders has been surprised to learn about the pro-Sanders campaigns of outside groups that are allowed to raise unlimited amounts of money from donors. Sanders rails against such groups on the campaign trail, saying they contribute to a corrupt political system.

"They should spend their money somewhere else," Weaver writes in the email. "We do not want their help."

TV ads are unavoidable during a presidential election campaign — just ask the Iowans and New Hampshirites being bombarded with advertisements right now. So why aren't those TV spots seeming to do much good for some Republican candidates?

Every four years, New Hampshire Primary candidates and their supporters buy up hours of commercial time on local TV in hopes of attracting potential voters.

But, this year, all the advertising has not translated into more support, especially on the Republican side.

NHPR’s digital reporter Brian Wallstin has been tracking the primary-ad war and he’s giving NHPR's All Things Considered the lay of the land.

So, here we are – a little more than two months before the primary. Are viewers sick of all the political ads yet?

Compared to some of his rivals, Marco Rubio hasn’t been seen much in the Granite State, either in person or on TV.

That’s about to change.

The superPAC backing Jeb Bush seemed to have everything it needed. It went into the primaries with the most money by far. Right to Rise USA had raised $103 million by June 30, with plenty of help from Bush before he officially announced his candidacy and could no longer legally ask for big contributions.

In September, Right to Rise put the money to work, announcing it would buy $24 million worth of TV ads in the first three nominating states: Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Recent polling shows that many Americans in both political parties agree that it’s a serious problem. But while they are unhappy with the influx of big money donors into elections made possible by the Citizens United ruling, they also seem pessimistic about changing the system. Still, some have made this a top priority, claiming that meaningful campaign finance reform is essential to a healthy democracy.

GUESTS:

Last week we examined the campaign money landscape in the New Hampshire Primary, both how candidates are raising money in the state, and how they're spending it.

But what do those dollars mean against the national campaign fundraising picture?

Presidential candidates boosted their spending in New Hampshire this summer, spending nearly six times as much as they did in the previous three month period.

The Republican and Democratic candidates doled out nearly $2 million across the state from July to September. The vast majority of that cash, however, went to a small handful of Republican operatives and consultants -- and the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

Turn on the television in New Hampshire these days, and you won’t have to wait long before Jeb Bush, John Kasich or Chris Christie pops up on your screen. 

Credit Kinder Morgan / http://www.kindermorgan.com/content/docs/TGP_Northeast_Energy_Direct_Fact_Sheet.pdf

It's one of the more, shall we say, parochial questions presidential candidates have faced on the campaign trail this year: What do you think of the proposed gas pipeline that may be routed through New Hampshire?

The pipeline is officially known as the Northeast Energy Direct Project.  And the question of whether it should run through the southern part of the state has been posed to a number of both Republicans and Democrats, including Jeb Bush. 

Republican donors in New Hampshire are beginning to loosen their purse strings for their party’s primary contenders.

Granite Staters contributed more than $220,000 to GOP presidential candidates in the third quarter of 2015. That’s $70,000 more than Democrats took in, and a big change from earlier in the year, when Republican candidates were out-raised in New Hampshire by a two-to-one margin.

Political candidates send lots of emails as the end of a fundraising quarter approaches. New Hampshire Congressman Frank Guinta is no exception – though there’s a bit more to his story than what’s in the message.

Craig: Elen Nivrae via Wikicommons/CC; Sanders: Chris Jensen, NHPR

Here’s an unusual question to ask during presidential primary season: What does Daniel Craig, the actor who plays James Bond, have to do with Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders?

Jason Moon for NHPR

Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig became the latest candidate to enter the Democratic side of the 2016 presidential campaign today. Unlike other candidates in the race, he is running on a single issue: getting big money out of politics.

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