The PJ Tatler

Is Big Labor Trying to Buy New Hampshire Governor's Race?

Is there anything Big Labor won’t do for Maggie Hassan? With just days before the election, NH Democratic gubernatorial nominee Maggie Hassan faces all the wrong questions about her campaign’s cozy relationship with labor union groups. From shadowy donations to workplace, Hassan is actively accepting the sort of “support” she has publicly decried throughout her political career.

The details:

Hassan’s June 20th finance report included a $25,000 contribution from the “Plumbers and Steamfitters Local Union.”

Red Flag #1: Direct contributions from unions are prohibited under New Hampshire state law.

In order to contribute to candidates or political committees, unions must create a PAC. Hassan’s report lists the contributing entity as a PAC.

Red Flag #2: Hassan’s report lists the contribution as coming from “Plumbers and Steamfitters Local Union.”  No PAC with this name exists.  The union does have a registered PAC under the name “Local 131 Volunteer PAC.” 

So it would appear that Hassan exploited a loophole in New Hampshire election law that allows PAC to PAC transfers in unlimited amounts, as at the time her campaign committee was set up as a PAC.  However, even that explanation leaves troubling questions.

Red Flag #3: The Local 131 Volunteer PAC did not register until over a month after the contribution date. “A contribution in the amount of $25,000 is only permitted if the funds were transferred directly from one PAC to another, which appears to be the case with the $25,000 contribution…However, the timeline of the donation and the PAC registration call into question the legality of the contribution. While Hassan’s report lists the donation as received on June 15th, the Local Union 131 Volunteer PAC did not file its registration papers with the Secretary of State’s office until months later, on August 2nd.” 

Red Flag #4: Local Union 131 Volunteer PAC doesn’t list a donation of any size to Maggie Hassan on any of its filings. “Another inconsistency arises when examining the union PAC’s filings. The first report, filed on August 22nd, does not list the donation to Hassan’s committee, nor is it listed on subsequent filings. The August 22nd report lists $29,257.71 raised but only $1,500 spent. Based on the information available, it seems that at the very least Hassan exploited a loophole in New Hampshire election law.” 

Unions aren’t just filling Hassan’s campaign coffers; they are abusing their member communications privileges to strong-arm NH state employees to vote for her, according to a piece published Nov. 1 in the New Hampshire Journal. “When some New Hampshire state employees arrived at their office last week, they were greeted at their desks by a sensationalized flyer touting Democrat gubernatorial candidate Maggie Hassan and attacking her Republican opponent, Ovide Lamontagne. The flier was apparently produced and distributed by the State Employee’s Association (SEA) and the local chapter of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).”

According to the same article, the unions’ tactics are skirting – if not violating – the law. “Political communications of this nature are technically legal due to provisions in the SEA contract negotiated under former Governor Jeanne Shaheen and upheld by Governor Lynch.    However, sources familiar with labor laws say that union representatives and union members are not supposed to take time out of work hours or use office equipment such as printers or copiers to distribute materials like these fliers.”

Oh, the irony: In the past, Hassan repeatedly blasted these type of contributions…but she wasn’t running for governor then. “’You can come into New Hampshire. You can purchase an election. You can drown out the voices of all others in a campaign,’ Hassan charged. ‘You can hide your identity from public scrutiny.’”