Kelly Ayotte: "On DNA testing, NH favors felons over public safety"
By KELLY AYOTTE, NH Attorney General
The New Hampshire Union Leader Newspaper, Thursday, June 12, 2008
IT IS WRONG to value the rights of convicted felons and sex offenders over public safety. Yet that is what a majority of our state representatives did recently when they voted down legislation (originally included in House Bill 1640) allowing the State Police Forensic Laboratory to obtain DNA samples from convicted felons and all sexual offenders for inclusion in the FBI's Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).
CODIS is a national DNA database that has solved hundreds of crimes. Like fingerprints, DNA analysis is a powerful investigative tool because each person's DNA is unique (with the exception of identical twins). DNA evidence collected from a crime scene can identify the perpetrator of a crime and exonerate the innocent. DNA evidence can be found even where there are no latent fingerprints. Because DNA is such an important crime solving tool, 46 states submit DNA samples from all convicted felons to CODIS.
Under current law, New Hampshire submits to CODIS only DNA results from a limited number of sexual offenders and certain violent felons. There are many non-violent and violent felons from whom we do not collect DNA samples, including those involved in many terrorism-related offenses. Likewise, we are not obtaining and submitting DNA samples from all sex offenders, including those convicted of distributing child pornograpy, or from Internet predators who solicit children for sex. Although new legislation allows law enforcement to obtain DNA samples from all sex offenders, inexplicably, it does not allow the state to submit these samples to CODIS.
A United States Department of Justice Study found that hundreds of rapes, murders and other violent crimes could have been prevented if states took DNA samples from all felons, including non-violent offenders. If law enforcement officers catch recidivists early using DNA, they can prevent crime. For example, in Arkansas between 1995 and 1997, seven rapes were committed by one man. In 1997, the perpetrator was caught and his DNA linked to all seven cases. In 1996, he had been convicted on charges of receiving stolen property. Had the state obtained a DNA sample for this felony conviction at that time, up to five of the rapes could have been prevented.
Likewise, in Indiana, an elderly woman was brutally raped in 2000, and the next year another elderly woman was raped and murdered. In 1998, the perpetrator had been convicted of felony property crimes. Had the state obtained a DNA sample after the 1998 felony conviction, the rape and murder of the elderly woman in 2001 would have been prevented. These and many other examples are what have prompted 46 states to submit DNA samples from all felons to CODIS. Since doing so, states have solved many violent crimes, linking DNA evidence obtained from crime scenes to DNA collected from violent and seemingly non-violent felons.
New Hampshire is being denied the benefits of this important public safety tool by representatives who were apparently persuaded by misinformed arguments offered by the ACLU and others as to how CODIS works.
There are significant protections in place, under federal law, which govern the use of the database. Names and personally identifiable information are not submitted to CODIS. That information is maintained and protected in the forensic laboratory of each state. The DNA sequences tested and compared do not have any known purpose. For example, the information in CODIS cannot tell you anything about a person's medical history. The only information submitted to CODIS is the offender's DNA profile (represented by a series of numbers) and a bar code. If there is a match, the FBI contacts our laboratory with the identifier for the sample. The lab then carefully determines who the sample was obtained from by verifying the bar code and retesting the sample.
Contrary to the misguided arguments made on the floor of the House, the FBI cannot query CODIS to determine who has submitted a sample. Nor can employers access CODIS to determine whether someone has submitted a sample. The offenders whose DNA profiles are submitted to CODIS suffer no adverse consequences, so long as they do not commit another crime.
Like fingerprints, DNA is powerful identification and crime solving tool. The public's interest in safety far outweighs any interest a convicted felon or sex offender has in the identification characteristics of their DNA. Please help me convince our elected representatives that DNA testing of felons and sexual offenders is the right thing to do.
Kelly Ayotte is attorney general of New Hampshire.
Keeping Politics out if it, I have a comment:
"Names and personally identifiable information are not submitted to CODIS. That information is maintained and protected in the forensic laboratory of each state."
Who is to ensure that this is true? Ever hear of TJX? What about the other credit card ID thefts from "secure" private companies? I don't trust the gov't to secure any of my information.
Besides, this is a dangerous road down a slipery slopd. What is next, imbedded microchips in all people. While some people will taut the benefits such as more ciminals will be captured, etc, we can never forget that these are invasions of privacy. A simple thing like the MBTA Charlie card is just as bad, while convenient, I don't like how they can "track" where I get on and when.
- Chris, Boston
Neal Kurk needs to sit down and shut up. Hey Neal, your not an expert on every issue. Its really sad the House Democrats voted with him time again these past two years and let him overturn their own committees.
- Henry Swanson, Goffstown
" yet the lives of these youthful offenders would be ruined forever". How, exactly, would having your DNA on file ruin one's life forever?
- Mike, COncord
This article, like the arguments made in favor of the bill in the House, deliberately conceals an important fact. In addition to the examples conveniently cited, A DNA sample would be taken in virtually all juvenile cases. These cases are not criminal cases, and do not result in felony convictions, yet the lives of these youthful offenders would be ruined forever. Moreover, the list of offenses covered was slipped into the bill after public hearings were closed, and included many non-violent offenses. Finally, AG Ayotte neglected to mention that after the oppressive portions were removed, the bill ultimately passed the house. The last thing we need here in NH is an AG who deliberately deceives the legislature and the public for political gain. Does she attempt to deceive judges and juries as well?
- Mike, Manchester
The hypocrisy of right-wingers never seems to amaze me. You claim to be for small government, but yet favor these types of social controls. The NH legislature is favoring the Constitution not felons. Miss(guided) Ayotte argues in favor of mass DNA collection by citing examples of how many crimes could have been prevented if we collected DNA from all offenders. So, wouldn't the next logical step be to collect DNA from EVERYONE? Ah yes, let's have a DNA database containing the genetic information of everyone in Amerika and there will never be another unsolved crime. Better, yet, why don;t we place microchips inside everyone's bodies so we can track thier movements and collect data on whom they associate with. Why aren't you conservative con-jobs arguing for these "protections"?
- David, Raynham, MA
Ms. Ayotte is a true leader. I also believe she is a Republican. Why isn't she running against Lynch to be governor?
- Mike, Bedford
Property crime felonies is too broad a criterion for inclusion. In an information age anyone can be charged with property crime, as money is property. Ayotte mentions 2 example crimes in paragraphs 4 and 5 as a wish list for DNA seizure. If she wants everyone in the database, she should say so.
This is not farfetched, as a murder in Cape Cod had police asking for 'voluntary' DNA from every man in the region. Britain is also expanding their database much too broadly. If you have nothing to hide, why not?
The NH Bill of Rights, Article 19, protects citizens against 'unreasonable searches and seizures of his person'. Representative Kurk is a wise, forward looking man who is a true asset to our state.
- Steve, Manch
Nice article Ms. Ayotte. Now please tell folks to vote those legislators out of office!
- Barb, Gilford, NH
We deserve the government we vote for. This present legislature is all about making New Hampshire look like San Francisco, CA or Massachusetts and does so with impugnity.
General Ayotte laments the lack of support for this bill, yet how could we expect anything any different from this morally bankrupt body.
- Rick Olson, Manchester
Neal Kurk's "Big Brother" nonsence has gone too far. I'd like to know what he is hiding from.
- Rose, Weare
The misinformation that comes from the likes of Kurk and his tribe of ultra-liberals will eventually provide a safe haven for all felons, -as a matter of fact, we should experience an exodus to our fair State any time now. Welcome felons, feel free to perpetrate crime with the best wishes of our Legislature.
- brian, nottingham
The way the legislators have been acting this year, I would have thought that this would have passed without problems. I mean, they have our safety in mind, right? What a joke! This should have passed. There are a lot of unsolved murders, rape, etc. that could be solved/prevented with this information. Obviously, the Legislators priorities are in keeping people from harming themselves legally instead of keeping us safe from ILLEGAL activity!
- Paat, Concord
Biography of Kelly A. Ayotte, NH Attorney General
Kelly Ayotte is the first woman to serve as Attorney General of the State of New Hampshire. Ms. Ayotte graduated from the Pennsylvania State University (with honors) in 1990 with a B.A. in Political Science, and graduated from the Villanova University School of Law in 1993, where she served as Executive Editor of the Environmental Law Journal. Ms. Ayotte is a member of the New Hampshire and Maine bars. After law school, Ms. Ayotte spent one year as a law clerk to the Honorable Sherman D. Horton, Associate Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Following her clerkship, Ms Ayotte worked from 1994 to 1998 as a litigation associate in the Manchester law firm of McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton, where she litigated complex civil, commercial and criminal defense cases, including court appointed representation in the matter of U.S. v. Burke, a three month jury trial in the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire involving RICO, conspiracy, robbery, carjacking and firearms offenses.
Ms. Ayotte joined the Office of the Attorney General in 1998 as a prosecutor in the Criminal Bureau, where she handled white collar, public integrity and homicide cases. She became a member of the Homicide Unit where she tried numerous homicide cases and was responsible for dozens of death investigations throughout the State of New Hampshire. She was appointed a Senior Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Homicide Unit in 2000, where she was responsible for the most complex homicide cases, including the case of State v. Parker and State v. Tulloch, in which she successfully prosecuted two defendants for the brutal murders of two Dartmouth professors. In February of 2003, Ms. Ayotte left the Attorney General's Office to serve as legal counsel for Governor Craig Benson at the beginning of his term. In July of 2003, she was appointed Deputy Attorney General where she served until July of 2004 when she was appointed Attorney General.
Ms. Ayotte is a past recipient of the Robert E. Kirby Award presented by the New Hampshire Bar Foundation to an attorney 35 years or younger who demonstrates the traits of civility, courtesy, perspective and excellent advocacy. She was recognized by New Hampshire Magazine in 2004 as one of the State's remarkable women and she was selected as one of the 40 leaders in New Hampshire under the age of 40, by the Manchester, N.H. Union Leader in 2002. New Hampshire Business Magazine most recently named her as one of New Hampshire's 10 Most Powerful People. Ms. Ayotte is a native of New Hampshire. She resides in Nashua, New Hampshire with her husband, Joseph Daley, and daughter, Katherine.
"New law: Threats lead to jail time"
By TRENT SPINER, Union Leader Correspondent, July 24, 2008
NASHUA – A man who once claimed to be God has become the first person to be convicted under a new state law lowering the threshold for what can be considered a threat against public officials.
Michael Rezk, 44, will face up to seven additional years in prison for threatening to kill a Rockingham County Superior Court judge last September. In a single-day jury trial this week, prosecutors only needed to show a threat was made. Because of the new law, there was no burden to prove the threat was also meant to "terrorize."
It was always illegal to threaten a public official, but what was in the past generally considered a misdemeanor in most cases was also upgraded under the new law to a Class B felony. The change makes jail time more likely for those convicted of threatening the current and former governors, legislators, judges and a variety of other public officials and their families -- even if the public official has no reasonable fear for his or her safety.
"This is a new addition to the criminal code," said Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young. "It's a new crime."
Rezk's legal woes stem from an armed robbery attempt in 2001 where he threatened to kill an elderly man. In September 2002, Rezk was found guilty and sentenced to 231/2 years in prison for felonious use of a firearm, receiving stolen property and attempted burglary.
During sentencing on his earlier crimes, Rezk, who represented himself and spun around in his chair laughing while prosecutors presented their case, was asked what he thought his punishment should be.
"Freedom," he said, but was told that was not an option.
"Short of that -- death," said Rezk. "You either give me death or I'm going to give you death."
He asked if Rockingham County Superior Court Judge Kenneth McHugh followed the sun and the moon, which he referred to as father and son.
"You don't follow the moon and so it's over. I'm going to take your life in 12 days," Rezk said at the time.
Those statements came before the new law was enacted; Rezk was not charged at the time.
A year later, the state Supreme Court heard an appeal on Rezk's case before overturning parts of his conviction and remanding the case back to the Superior Court. During his second Superior Court sentencing last September, Rezk wrote he would kill Judge McHugh if the judge did not drop charges stemming from the 2001 armed robbery attempt. That most recent threat was the basis of Tuesday's trial, according to Young.
Rezk's case was heard in Hillsborough County Superior Court South to provide an unbiased trial, said Young, because McHugh still sits in Rockingham. It was prosecuted by the state attorney general's office, another mandate of the new law.
Rezk is incarcerated at the State Prison for Men in Concord. While he has not yet been sentenced for his most recent infraction, he faces a possible parole date of Sept. 21, 2014, and a maximum release date of May 18, 2034, according to the Department of Corrections.
A Litchfield man will become the second test of the new law after being indicted this month by a grand jury for threatening the family of Nashua District Court Judge Thomas Bamberger.
Timothy Keddie, 50, was arrested on June 27 by Litchfield police for failure to appear at a civil hearing in Nashua District Court on an arrest warrant signed by Bamberger. While he was being booked, Keddie looked at the order with the judge's signature and allegedly said he was going to rape Bamberger's wife and children. Keddie is awaiting trail in Hillsborough County Superior Court South, the same court Rezk was convicted in this week.
"It is imperative that our judges are free to make decisions based on what is just without being influenced or retaliated against," said Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte in a written statement.
You wrote: Just because a public official threatened to report someone's letter as threatening does not mean that any charges would ever be brought.
Tell me you know the difference between "would" and "could". The very fact that someone COULD be charged with a felony for a PERCEIVED (read: imaginary and non-existent) should be enough to scare anyone senseless.
What part of the expression "slippery slope" do you not understand?
- Bruce M., Brentwood
Wow. I don't know what to say besides I am outraged at this law. I know the intent is to protect public officials from people like Mr. Rezk' but it seams to leave a wide opening for abuse.
This is one more step closer to the erosion of the New Hampshire Libertarian attitude and one step closer to Massachusetts like thinking. I think I can speak for allot of people in New Hampshire when I say I am disappointed in the elected officials that voted this in. Shame on you for not reflecting the values of the people you represent.
- agallant, Raleigh, NC
Bruce, John, Tom - I strongly disagree with you.
The prior law stated that the public official had to have a reasonable fear of their safety. The change to the law is based now solely on the threat that is communicated, not how the target of that threat feels. It does not change the definition of a threat. Do you not see that this greatly simplifies the law? The change punishes the criminal act, rather than the results of that act.
This is not any type of slippery slope. The two examples given are very clear and specific threats (one a very specific death threat, the other a specific threat to rape family members), two conditions necessary to bring charges.
Bruce, you cite a really poor example. Just because a public official threatened to report someone's letter as threatening does not mean that any charges would ever be brought. Are you trying to imply that under the revised law charges would be brought against the person you mention? If the letter in question did not contain a clear and specific threat, that person would not be charged under either the old or new law.
- Jose H, Manchester, NH
This is truly a slippery slope and again our constitution is ignored by the elites of society. So let me get this straight, McCain can threaten to, "BOMB, BOMB, BOMB Iran" and that is ok but when a citizen says an off the wall threat or even criticism that could be construed as threatening, he can be charged with a felony and thrown in jail? Normal citizens are not given this type of protection but yet our elites get the protection. This is what the Soviets and Cubans do to stifle political dissent.
Where are the constitutional attorneys to take this case to the Supreme Court? Who are the reps who voted for this travesty?
- Kyle, Bedford
Many elected representatives are already in the habit of threatening legal action against citizens with the nerve to question what they are doing with OUR money. It sounds like this new law will make it easier for them to make good on such threats when when of us uppity taxpayers does not "respect their authority". Once again - thanks Democrats. You continue to take away more of our money and more of our rights. When will the sheeple of this state (and all over the nation) wake up and vote freedom first?
- Mark, Amherst
What happen to restraining orders? Does this only apply to the common citizen?
- Tammy, Manchester
"The change makes jail time more likely ... even if the public official has no reasonable fear for his or her safety."
I agree with John/Manch and Bruce/Brentwood - this sounds a little too 1984 for 2008 America....
No, threatening is not OK. But to make impotent sputterings a felony seems over-the-top ...
- tom, Candia
I understand the need to protect our civil servants from outlandish and plausible threats... but to criminalize even utterances and to make them a felony?
I bet this law has some first ammendment issues.
The other problem is proving actual malice, intent and ability to actually commit the threat which must be proved in most criminal cases.
Lets just hope that we have not created a super class of people now.
One more thought... what do you think wold hapen if you reported that someone made a verbal threat to a common citizen? NOTHING! Been there...
- John, Manchester
This could be the beginning of a very slippery slope. If I say something in public critical of an elected official, what's to stop that elected official from telling the authorities that he or she felt "threatened" by my criticism?
I know of one such case where a NH resident wrote an e-mail to a state rep asking him to explain his position on and issue and offering to help him learn more on the subject.
The state rep in question replied, telling this person he found his e-mail threatening and was considering reporting it to the authorities, despite there being NO threatening language involved whatsoever.
This new law seems to remove the government's "burden of proof" responsibility. This is one to keep an eye on.
- Bruce M., Brentwood
"N.H. sues UBS over securities: Complaint is 1st on behalf of bond issuer"
By Beth Healy, (Boston) Globe Staff, August 15, 2008
New Hampshire regulators yesterday filed a lawsuit against UBS Securities, alleging the firm defrauded a different kind of victim in the auction-rate scandal: an issuer of the bonds that have ensnared investors since February.
The New Hampshire Bureau of Securities Regulation alleged the Swiss bank misled a New Hampshire student-loan agency about the auction-rate market. UBS violated its fiduciary duty to the lender, a longtime client, the bureau alleged, by encouraging it to continue to issue debt through the auction market when UBS knew the market was verging on collapse.
"It's very clear to us that UBS was managing its way out of this auction-rate market," said Mark Connolly, director of the securities bureau. But UBS "was not fully informing their client about the risks," he said.
UBS last week agreed to a $19 billion settlement with federal and state regulators, the largest in a nationwide probe of the auction-rate market. The firm pledged to buy back those investments from 40,000 investors who bought the bonds of student lenders and other issuers, and to pay $150 million in fines.
The New Hampshire lawsuit - the first such complaint brought on behalf of a bond issuer UBS advised - is separate from that settlement. The investment bank said it would defend itself against the new claims.
"This complaint attempts to link a single client interaction with overall market conditions which affected all student-loan issuers, and as such we believe there is no basis for these specific allegations," UBS said.
UBS did warn the lender, the New Hampshire Higher Education Loan Corp., about trouble in the market months before it crashed and long before buyers of the bonds were ever told.
As previously reported by the Globe, UBS told the New Hampshire loan group by mid-December last year the auction-rate market was faltering. The lender's executives signed an agreement that took effect Dec. 17, to pay dramatically higher interest on its bonds in the event the market did fail, to keep attracting investors. The agreement was disclosed in a memo to investors posted on the lender's website.
But UBS's warnings did not go far enough, the lender's attorney said. Stephen Weyl, a partner at the law firm Hinckley, Allen & Snyder, which serves as the agency's general counsel, said UBS had an obligation to disclose that it saw the auction-rate market's problems as long-term, not temporary.
"If they had come and said, 'We think the auction-rate market is going away forever, we're making plans to get out of the market,' then we would have had a very different reaction to events," Weyl said.
As a result of having its bonds frozen since February, the New Hampshire lender had to curtail private student loans in March because it could not raise money. In 2007, it made $67 million in private loans to about 6,000 students. It is currently making federally-backed student loans, thanks to a line of bank credit.
Auction-rate securities are a form of debt that student lenders and other nonprofits used to fund their operations because it was inexpensive. For years, rates on the bonds were reset at weekly or monthly auctions, which drew investors looking for returns slightly better than money market funds. But on Feb. 13, auction markets all shut down, as troubled credit markets spooked investors and Wall Street's giants all decided to stop supporting the trading.
States and federal regulators have recently obtained major settlements from investment firms involved in the auction-rate market. Just yesterday, New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo disclosed settlements with Morgan Stanley & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., in which the firms agreed to buy back $7 billion in investments and to pay a total of $60 million in fines. Altogether, investment firms have agreed to buy back $27 billion in auction-rate bonds so far in deals with regulators.
René A. Drouin, the New Hampshire student lender's chief executive, said the group complained to New Hampshire securities officials about UBS within the past two weeks.
Lawsuits filed by Massachusetts and New York regulators against UBS allege executives at the firm were selling their own holdings in auction-rate securities at the same they were encouraging UBS brokers to keep selling them to customers.
Drouin said the New Hampshire student-loan agency had relied on UBS's advice for 11 years, to issue $1.5 billion in auction-rate securities. He said UBS persuaded the lender to continue signing agreements to help shore up the bond sales, instead of advising the lender to get out of the auction-rate market.
"UBS apparently had another agenda, and they had more information than they let us know," Drouin said.
Beth Healy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Lynch: NH merchants need legal protection against Bay State taxation"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, Friday, Feb. 6, 2009
CONCORD – The fight against collection efforts north of the border by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue now involves the New Hampshire Legislature as well as the Bay State's top court.
Gov. John Lynch and Attorney General Kelly Ayotte announced yesterday that the state will file a brief in a court dispute between Massachusetts officials and a tire retailer with stores in both states. Today, Lynch said he favors a change in state law to protect New Hampshire businesses from being required to collect Massachusetts sales taxes.
"We need to send a clear message that Massachusetts and other states shall not impose their sales taxes on New Hampshire businesses,” Lynch said.
Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-Exeter, will be the bill’s prime sponsor.
Yesterday, Lynch and Attorney General Kelly Ayotte announced that New Hampshire has filed a brief at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Council protesting efforts to force Town Fair Tire Center to pay more than $100,000 in back taxes on sales to Massachusetts residents at its New Hampshire stores.
Massachusetts residents are subject to a use tax, a form of sales tax, when they import certain items into the state for use there.
"I think it is outrageous that Massachusetts erroneously believes it can impose its sales tax here in New Hampshire," Lynch said. "We have chosen not to have a sales tax here in New Hampshire and we are not about to let Massachusetts impose its tax on our businesses."
The Massachusetts Department of Revenue wants Town Fair Tire Centers to collect a 5 percent use tax on sales to customers who live in Massachusetts but buy tires in New Hampshire.
It issued an order telling Town Fair to pay $108,947 in use taxes it said the chain should have collected, based on sales records at three stores. The chain lost its case at a Massachusetts appellate tax board, and the case is now at the state's Supreme Judicial Court. The company has seven New Hampshire stores, including four at border locations in Nashua, Portsmouth, Salem and Seabrook.
Retailers here said they fear the Town Fair case is just the start of what could become a fight with every store that operates in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
Nancy Kyle, Retail Merchants Association president, said this week, "They're testing the waters to see how it goes, and if they win their case, the big-box retailers are next."
Ayotte said yesterday she's planning to file, "on behalf of the state to ensure that New Hampshire businesses will not become agents of Massachusetts tax authorities."
She said tax law in Massachusetts should not be enforced in a way that interferes with interstate commerce. The court has set a March 23 deadline for all interested parties to file in the case.
Town Fair Tire Centers is a Connecticut corporation doing business throughout five New England states.
Massachusetts and New Hampshire tax collections have had run-ins over several decades on tax collections, liquor sales and car registrations.
About a dozen years ago, Maine tried to pull a similar money grab by sending Maine Revenue Officers into NH businesses and demand the owners provide records so Maine could collect "taxes due" for sales made to Maine residents.
As the then Vice Chairman of the Commerce Committee in the NH House I, and three fellow committee members, drafted an ammendment to an existing piece of legislation making it a felony for agents of any other state to act in any capacity to collect business records or “taxes” from any NH business.
We read the draft of the amendment into a sub-committee record in front of a representative of the Maine Department of Revenue. We then placed the bill and amendment into a study committee and sat on the bill to the following year.
Needless to say Maine Revenue Officers stopped coming into NH for fear of arrest even though the amendment never even made it out of the sub-committee.
So lets file some new legislation and offer Town Fair Tire, and any NH business with stores in Massachusetts that feel threatened, a healthy tax brake/incentive (local property taxes and business profits tax etc…) to close their Massachusetts stores and move to this side of the boarder – we could use the jobs while teaching Taxachusetts a lesson about the NH Advantage.
- Greg Carson, Londonderry
On the flip side, if what Massachusetts is proposing goes through, they'll need to take into account that I won't be paying their sales tax in MA as I'm a NH resident.
- Kimberly, Concord
Massachusetts not only wants to run our lives, they want to tell other states how to run theirs. The arrogance of MA knows no bounds. I am ashamed to say I’m from MA. They inflict gun laws, helmet laws, and seatbelt laws even when the majority does not want this kind of oppression and invasion of privacy. They tell us how we will raise or kids and what we will accept as normal. This just one more example of MA gone out of control. I am glad I’m moving to my New Hampshire home in the summer. Live Free or Die!!
- Dave, Stark
There is a lot of talk here about MA license plates, I don't agree.
I have right here two invoices from Town Fair Tire on work done in 2008 and 2006. No where on my invoice does it list my NH license Plate number. On the 2006 invoice there is a block for the license plate number but it is blank. More than likely the MA DOR got their info from names and addresses on the invoice, not plate numbers. If Town Fair Tire does not enter information on all customers license plate numbers no way can the info be useful for any legal purposes. Town Fair tire doesn't have to enter license plate numbers unless legally required to do in NH. If MA is victorious in Federal Court(if it ends up there) there is going to be a lot of MA residents giving bogus info in the pursuit of Tax free commerce across state lines. After all this trouble MA will still be losing money.
- Chris, Merriamck
I moved form NH in 1978 to OH, a state that has a sales tax. They also have the user tax. The tax payer is to claim the tax on themselves for goods purchased outside of the state thru catalog or over the internet. Most states that have sales tax do the same thing. In OH the tax varies form county to county from 6.25% to 8%. Large purchases with the exception of a vehicle can be made in a county with the lowest tax rate, a vehicle is taxed in the county it is registered in no matter where it is purchested. I miss not having a sales tax!!!
- Jim Wormwoow, Elyria,OH
I'm not a big fan of Lynch, but he's doing the right thing here. Credit where credit is due.
- Joe, Manchester
Uh last time I checked, Lynch doesn't need to get "legal advice" to make an immediate comment against this action to the media. You Lynch lovers are just so used to him being so inactive on every issue that it is just expected at this point.
Lynch needs to get a backbone and take stands before worrying about political winds. Guinta actually has the guts to take on Massachusetts while Lynch just spends an entire week making sure it benefits him politically to stand up for the Granite State.
- Ryan Feltner, Manchester NH
If Town Fair Tire Center has to pay more than $100,000 in back Taxes I think they should pay it according to the Free Trade Act and Deliver $100,00.00 worth of TEA BAGS to the front stairs of The Capitol Building!!!!!! lol Then they can Really have a "Boston Tea Party" Ha Ha MA.
- E J, Manchester
It is the MA citizens who are breaking their home states laws by failing to declare and pay their legally due use taxes. Don't fool yourself though,
the taxes not paid hurt NH residents too. Big boxers (and CT based Town Fair Tire) come to the NH border towns to exploit the tax situation, have lower operating costs, pay lower wages and lesser benefits to NH employees than they would have to pay in MA. And then they send their profits home. The NH services (police, fire, highways) the out of state based businesses enjoy here are paid for by PROPERTY taxes paid by NH property owners. If you live in NH anywhere near the MA border you KNOW that you won't be able to afford to pay those ever increasing taxes much longer. NH needs major tax reforms and will HAVE to consider sales and income taxes. The burden can't be carried by NH property owners forever. We should get our cut out of those retailers and out of state shoppers.
- Larry, Danville
The fact of the matter is this. John Lynch wouldnt have grown a spine if Mayor Guinta didn't force him to!
- Bob Belin, Manchester
If the court stands with Mass on this issue, then Town Fair Tire should simply send out a press release announcing that six months hence all of its Massachusetts stores will close, resulting in the loss of dozens or hundreds of jobs.
And then let the bureaucrats in Mass take the blame they obviously deserve. The company can open even more stores right on the border, with a big sign "Welcome Mass Residents!" facing south. Existing employees that don't mind the commute can just cross the state line to go to work, just like so many NH residents.
That's the company's ace card, and I for one hope it gets played. Stand on principle, Town Fair Tire.
- Keith Murphy, Manchester
I've always said that if we could just saw off MA from the United States this entire country would be that much better off! Oh while we are at it, might as well lob of CA too, but keep Arnold around!
- Mike, Epping
Since when can another state tell US what to do?
Boy, those Mass. people- they think they can tell everyone what to do.
- Luke, Bristol
Massachusetts money grubbing tentacles are trying to invade NH now. When will that state learn. There is never an end to their money scrounging ways....the more they get the MORE THEY SPEND. It never ends. STAY out of New Hampshire PLEASE.
- SMD, Derry
RE: Length of time Governor Lynch takes to react.
Umm. Because he thinks and puts together a strategy. Maybe to make all of you happy he should just put on a caveman suit, carry a big club and smash up those taxes.
Really folks, get a clue. Or actually Now that I think about it....don't get a clue. It was dang funny reading your comments.
- Lyn, Manchester
MA use tax is to be submitted and paid by the MA resident.
Why is MA not going after the customer's who they say are residents?
Perhaps that would result in too much bad press?
Businesses should not be made the agents of the MA tax department or any other for that matter.
What MA residents do is a matter betweem MA residents and MA DOR.
MA is always looking for more $$ anywhere they can find it.
- John, Manchester
This info is straight from the MA revenue site:
Payment of use tax. If a use tax is due, the PURCHASER must file an Individual Use Tax Return, Form ST-11, with the Commissioner and pay the tax imposed. M.G.L. c. 64I, ss. 2, 3. This return and payment are due on or before the twentieth day of the month following the month in which the property is first used here. Failure to file a return and pay the use tax when due will subject the taxpayer to interest and penalties calculated from the due date of the return or payment. M.G.L. c. 64I, s. 2; M.G.L. c. 62C, s. 16(i). See 830 CMR 62C.16.2.
Therefore it is not the retailers responsibility to collect. How can they think that Town Fair Tire owes them money, it is the buyers responsibility and no where in this law does it state that the out of state retailer is responsible. Moreover, I also came across this which I though was interesting
1. If the purchaser or the purchaser's agent takes possession of the property within Massachusetts, whether or not for redelivery or use outside Massachusetts, the sale is taxable.
So I go to MA and buy something for sole use outside of MA and I am taxed, but they feel that they can tax people in the reverse, and require the retailers to be responsible! These people need to get their heads out of you know where. Like I said previously I dont think this will go forward, but I do hope that there are some ramifications to MA for overstepping their bounds.
- Ryan, Londonderry
Yes, Leon P., Mayor Guinta is a shining example of fine leadership in the State of New Hampshire. I know I hate it when my Governor seeks legal advice and understanding of a situation before taking action and making statements. Especially when he declares war on another State.
Are you people serious? Are people that bigoted and ignorant in this State? Even when the Lynch does something that we should be proud of, he is denounced? The obfuscation of the issue makes me sick. Stop it please, can't we be civil for once?
- Andrew, Manchester
Nice to see that the Union Leader once again fails to go after Lynch when he is wrong and fails to give credit to the correct individuals for standing up for what is right. The Union Leader's editorial staff should have been clobbering Lynch for not taking an immediate and strong response to this issue earlier in the week and should have given credit to Guinta for being the only politician to take a quick stance against the Bay State for this sleezy attempt at collecting their taxes here in NH.
- Casey Johnes, Manchvegas
Just to clarify for some here, the issue is not collecting sales tax. Sales tax must be collected for products sold within the borders of the state...no...this is a completely different tax (go figure mass has another tax) called the "Use tax" which essentially taxes what would be sales tax but uses an alias as "Use" so therefore the residents are liable for the tax. That being said, it is the sole responsibility of the MA resident and the state of MA to work this out between them. It is not the responsibility of a NH business to collect the money for them. Tires is one thing, you see the car, but if this goes forward do they think that a business is going to pry for personal info in order to asses tax liability? Also with the exception of tires it would be virtually impossible to determine if the product would be used in MA. Of course MA wants us to do all this work for free at the expense of the NH retailers, BS! If this does by chance go forward NH business should charge the equivelant of the tax burden as compensation for their hard work. This would require businesses to have hardware and software installed to asses tax burden or possibly print out 1099s for those known MA residents. This whole thing is rediculous and will be shot down, I just hope that some repricussions come to MA to deter them from this kind of behavior. Where did these politicians come from? Do they have any grip on reality? I am a NH resident that works in MA and I read in another post that the income tax is justified by us using MA infrastructure to get to and from work, so what are the tolls that I pay for? I choose to work in MA so I will pay their income tax but do not think that you can come over and try to bully our businesses.
- Ryan, Londonderry
Article 1 Section 8 in the US Constitution CLEARLY spells out the guidelines of interstate commerce. Misuse of the commerce clause (or as in this case, blatant disregard for the commerce clause) has been one of the favorite methods used by those who want to circumvent the Constitution’s limits on government power.
When the states were considering whether to ratify the Constitution, most statesmen recognized a need for uniform treatment of interstate commerce throughout America. Under the Articles of Confederation, the states often treated each other as if they were foreign countries. They had all kinds of discriminatory taxes, licensing provisions, port regulations, etc. Trade arrangements with foreign countries also varied from state to state.
Alexander Hamilton described the problem like this: "The interfering and unneighbourly regulations of some States, contrary to the true spirit of the Union, have in different instances given just cause of umbrage and complaint to others...we may reasonably expect...that the citizens of each, would at length come to be considered and treated by the others in no better light than that of foreigners and aliens."
Unfortunately, there will always be people who try to increase their power over the lives of others and in this regard, this is just another example of the extreme left state government of Massachusettes trying to collect money that doesn't rightfully belong to them, mainly becasue they can't regulate their own spending to stay within their alloted budget.
In the same vein, the 5.3 percent state tax that NH residents who work in Mass must pay to the Mass government is nothing less than taxation without representation. Our original 13 colonies (of which one was Mass) went to war with England to fight this unjust tax. And yet, the state government of NH turns a blind eye to this unconstitutional collection of taxes which takes an estimate $250 million out of our state economy every year.
Mass politicians force employees to pay that tax money but when the state citizenry recently voted on phasing out the state tax over a two year period, nearly 700,000 people who work in Mass but live in NH were denied a say in that vote, even though it directly affected them. Those of us in this situation find an even greater affront to our intelligence when our children apply to Mass state schools and don't even get the benefit of state tuition fees, even though many of us have paid Mass state taxes for many years.
That is the eptome of taxation without representation. Yet nobody is willing to take on that fight. Instead we are all sheeple who commute up and down Rt 3 and 93 every day, resigning ourselves to paying taxes in a state that gives us nothing in return.
Maybe Kelly Ayotte can piggyback this cause on the NH merchant fight. After all, we're talking about millions of dollars in revenue leaving the stateof NH, not hundreds of thousands. It would surely help with our state budget mess to have that money back in NH.
- Collin, Manchester
This is all about competition. If Massachusetts wants to keep their citizenry from coming over the border and buying their large items in "no sales tax" New Hampshire then eliminate your sales tax. You impose a sales tax; you lose customers. The big Government, wasteful spending, freedom killing socialists only survive if people keep feeding them blindly with their tax dollars. There is a choice, it is called New Hampshire.
- Rick, Hollis,NH
Let's flip this issue here. For example, in MA there are several outdoor equipment retailers such as EMS and REI where consumers have to pay sales tax on equipment. It's likely that a large percentage of their customers don't use their equipment in MA, but in the mountains, lakes and rivers of NH. So by the MA Dept Revenue's argument, consumers should not have to pay tax on these items when purchased in MA and used in NH. Right?! Hey MA, don't be a hater! Just because NH is the better place to live, work and do business. That's why all your residents defect to NH.
- Bill, Concord
Why all this blathering. It violates the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. Period. A Federal court should look at this and say to MA, go home idiot.
- Bob H, Londonderry
Sure! no problem New Hampshire will be glad to collect the Mass. sales tax of 5%. Oh, did I mention that it will cost the State of Mass. 2%. 1% for the State and 1% for the business.
- Richard, Manchester, NH
I think it would set a bad precedent to let Massachusetts collect sales tax from NH stores BUT I also don't think the Massachusetts sales tax is "invalid." Massachusetts residents do have to pay it.
In this particular case, the argument that the store doesn't know where the resident will "use" the tires is silly--- regardless of where you drive the car, if you have a car registered in Massachusetts (or even just a car which should be registered in Massachusetts but has some other state's plates on it), you are using the tires in Massachusetts, even if you drive it to NH on occasion. But there are other arguments against forcing a store in one state to collect taxes for another.
We actually have a number of consumption taxes here in NH, including a Rooms & Meals tax which covers almost as wide a range of goods and services as some state's "broad-based" sales taxes. It is in fact about as broad-based as you can get while still remaining narrow-based. Sales taxes in general are vastly more complex than the other types of taxes we think we don't have in NH: every state imposes sales taxes on different categories of goods and services and calls the taxes different names and in general the whole thing is virtually impossible for a retailer to deal with. Even the big box stores have to deal with sales taxes on a state by state basis. (It would be simpler if we had a national sales tax, because the feds would create a national standard where no standards currently exist. just like they exist for income taxation--- but a national sales tax ain't gonna happen anytime soon and is probably a bad idea anyway.)
- State Rep. Timothy Horrigan, Durham, NH
Thanks should be to Mayor Guinta of Manchester for his ability to shoot straight to the heart of this issue. When this story broke, he was the only elected official in the state who came out and staunchly opposed what the Commonwealth was doing.
While John Lynch may have wanted to seek legal advise prior to announcing any action, there is no excuse for not coming forward and condemning the actions of the Mass. Dept. or Revenue immediately. His lack of action is suspect, and in my opinion, he simply overlooked the issue until someone stepped up and lit a fire under him.
Thanks should be to Guinta for his initial response, and also to Attorney General Ayotte for her work to put together the brief. Lynch, the turkey vulcher of New Hampshire politics, simply swooped in at the end to pick at the scraps of publicity that remained left behind.
- Leon P., Manchester
How can you possibly attack Governor Lynch on this? His timing is right on the mark. Nothing has happened yet here in NH. This case will go to the US Supreme Court. There will be plenty of time to resolve it. I'm quite certain that NH, and Governor Lynch, will prevail.
- ed, londonderry
What if someone who lives in S. MA buys tires in RI?? This too takes revenue from MA, shouldn't RI be forced to reimburse MA for the tax they receive from that MA resident??
I think Dems are all Marxists lately but Lynch is the exception. Safe to say, if he continues to be a rational guy who puts NH first and doesn't increase taxes or take away my guns....I will cast my first vote ever for a Dem when he is up again.
- michael, londonderry
During the last elections in Mass they had a vote to stop the MA state income tax. Mass Goverments put up adds saying to vote no on the bill. Because if you vote for it, We will have no police or firemen and they would lay off the teachers.. Scare tactics and it worked.
I just can't understand how the people In Mass can just take being beat up every day.
now they want to steal from us.. and hurt our business
We should put up a big wall at the border to keep out the Mass Politics.
- -pete, deerfield
Several posters have said that the tax is the obligation of the MA resident to report and pay to the state of MA. Their argument is that NH businesses should not have to perform the clerical work or pay the actual tax $ to MA.
This is a dangerous argument because, even though it removes any responsibilty from NH businesses, it validates the existence of the tax.
If the tax is declared legal and MA steps up enforcement, it would significantly affect NH retail business, especially those located in the southern tier of the state.
I think that the tax should be declared unconstitutional and preclude its payment by anyone, the MA consumer or NH businesses.
This appears to be the tack taken by the NH governor and AG's office. As for the criticism of Lych's delay in addressing the issue, my guess is that he was waiting for the legal review by the AG's office before making any brash statements that would undermine any future legal action.
- Dan, Auburn
Is there any legal backing for one state enforcing its tax laws on another like this? Maybe the Deval-uator should get rid of some of those hack jobs and their outrageous pensions in the Turnpike Authority. Rather than take responsibility for their own actions, they want to punish another state's economy with the "answer" to all problems: taxes. Fine. I worked in MA for 15 years and paid state income tax for which I received the following benefits: nothing. Our state has its own self-inflicted budget problems. We don't need additional help from the People's Republic to our south.
- Mike, Temple
If you live in NH but work in MA-- when doing your MA State taxes, make sure you deduct the amount of sick time, vacation time, bonus money and any other time you were NOT physically working in MA. This will lower your tax burden and you will get more of a refund. It's your money, don't give MA more than you have to.
- Jeff, Derry
I completely agree with David. If Mass. is going to demand that Town Fair Tire tax people based on their license plate, then living in New Hampshire I should have the right to refuse paying any tax in mass that I wouldn't pay in NH based on my New Hampshire license plate, right?!
- Danielle, merrimack, nh
"Kudos to Lynch" You have got to be joking right? For what, doing absolutely nothing to protect NH's right to no Sales Tax? What's next, are we going to give him a "kudos" for letting Massachusetts collect Income Tax here in NH too before he actually says anything.
- John Carol, Nashua, NH
So wait, the real story is that the mayor of Manchester even had to send Lynch a letter urging him to fight Massachusetts harder on Massachusetts' attempt to collect taxes here in NH before he took a stand and the news media in this state both fails to report on that and just sucks up to Lynch even further? No way, say it ain't so! I thought that was just a given in how the media in this state covers our governor. They never hold his feet to the fire.
- Kevin Lyons, Raymond, NH
How do you think Massachusetts is going to react when they see that our governor Lynch takes a week to react? They are going to take it as evidence that either
a) New Hampshire doesn't care or
b) that our governor doesn't have the backbone to fight Massachusetts hard on the issue, which will only entice them to make further attempts at collecting their taxes here in our state.
- Jake Gorski, Manchester NH
You've got to be kidding me... whereas I agree that MA has no business collecting taxes from NH sales, I am appalled about the incessant whining from former MA residents who moved here to escape the MA stranglehold and are now turning our once-great state into the one they left. I have a better idea... go back home and take your medecine. It's time for a libertarian revolution.
- Norm, Lancaster
This should be simple to solve.
The tax MA wants, STATE sales tax, can only be collected by the state. Since MA has no jurisdiction in NH, then MA cannot force NH to charge sales tax.
Leave it to the bone-headed, sociopathic lawmakers down in MA to come up this this hair-brained scheme.
- Tom, Chester
I'm actually really glad to hear some people bringing up how long it took our governor to respond. Can we really be surprised though? He NEVER takes bold action and always has to wait and see what the political tides will be before making a decision to act.
I agree with Chris- He is the most complacent governor in New Hampshire's history.
- Ryan Feltner, Manchester
It is imperative NH defend itself vigorously in preventing Massachusetts or any other state from forcing NH businesses to enforce and collect a sales or any form of tax on their behalf for purchases made within our state. Massachusetts created this problem by raising taxes so high in their own state that it’s become very attractive for their residents to come to NH to make their purchases. Well that’s not NH’s fault nor should it become NH’s problem to enforce Massachusetts tax laws. If Massachusetts cannot get their residents to abide by Massachusetts tax laws i.e. failure to declare of out of state purchases that’s their problem. Clearly they are attempting to shift the burden of declaring these purchases from Mass residents to NH businesses. We cannot and must not allow any other state to enact any law that impinges upon the sovereignty of NH to govern itself or to place undue burdens upon the citizens of NH. The commonwealth of Massachusetts has no right whatsoever to audit the sales records of any company or business operating in another state. They can only tax and regulate businesses physically operating and doing business within their own borders, i.e. a tire store chain doing business in NH cannot be made operate under Massachusetts law just as NH cannot for Massachusetts businesses to operate under NH law.
- Rob, Manchester
Thinking in reverse, why can't NH residents get the taxes BACK from anything purchased in MA, including income tax? Hey, what's good for the goose is good for the Gander.
- David Lewis, Manchester
Someone earlier wrote "MA requires it's residents to report out-of-state purchases on their income tax form"
Actually, ALL states require taxpayers to claim out-of-state purchases on the "Use Tax" line so MA isn't doing anything any other State is doing as well as the Federal Government.
- Paul Scorpio, Providence, Rhode Island
Talk about a game of follow the leader here! How come Tom Fahey didn't mention that Mayor Guinta has been talking about this all week and sent a letter to the Governor asking him to stand up on this?
- Rob Cole, Amherst
There are several things to be said that are in defense of Massachusetts.
The wage scale is significantly higher in MA than in NH. Especially in high-tech.
Massachusetts unemployment compensation is significantly higher (650.00/wk max). Highest in the country.
NH is about $400.00/wk max).
Massachusetts offers health insurance with their unemployment. I don't believe NH does.
There are literally hundreds more high tech companies in MA than NH. That's why so many of us travel there every day as well as the significantly higher wage compensation.
But, we pay MA income taxes!
These factors are no reason for them to go down the road their going with this tax thing. It's their own fault their broke!
Wait for the toll on Rte 93, it's coming and from our friends down in MA.
- Bob Ahern, Derry
Good to see Lynch following Guinta's lead! I heard the Mayor on Howie Carr's show talking about calling on the Governor to step up to the plate. Way to lead on this important isssue Mr. Mayor!
- Bill Young, Nashua
Scott, Derry. FYI, there is a Town Fair Tire has a store in Manch. which is why the Mayor was all over this And Lynch was last as usual climbing on the bandwagon because he has to check every wind direction before he will sort of commit to anything. You should check the wind first next time before you create any blowing in the wrong direction.
- Bob H, Londonderry
I CAN'T believe people are giving Lynch "kudos" for taking on this issue- INCLUDING the Union Leader with regards to this article. As seen on WMUR, this issue started in the beginning of the week just with regards to the media getting a hold of it, and it took Lynch this long to respond to the issue!?? What, has he been sleeping for the better half of the week and just decided to wake up and handle the issue on Thursday? Complacency can be just as evil as negative action on an issue as important to this one.
I was listening to Howie Carr the other day and heard Mayor Frank Guinta taking a very strong stance on the issue. There is a serious problem when it takes the mayor of Manchester to lead the charge against the state of Massachusetts before it begins to ruin New Hampshire's advantage of no Sales Tax. I am tired of Lynch being asleep at the helm and just skating by on the issues rather than taking strong political stands early and often.
Thank you Mayor Guinta for being the TRUE leader willing to take on the Bay State before it begins implementing their own taxes here in NH. Gov. Lynch needs to wake up and grow a backbone on issues before they become a serious problem and take a stance on issues for the betterment of NH before taking time to make sure it supports the betterment of him politically. And furthermore, the Union Leader needs to learn to give credit to the right people for taking a stand on the issue. Lynch should have been scolded earlier in the week for his complacency rather than praised days later for final late involvement on such a crucial issue for New Hampshire.
- Chris King, Manchester, NH
Cuomo's didn't go out of business in Salem in the 80's because of deliveries to MA. It went out of business because it opened to many stores and went bankrupt. If a store in NH does NOT have a duplicate business in MA, then they do not have to pay the sales tax. When Furniture World was open, MA residents did not have to pay a sales tax on the merchandise, just the delivery cost because that store had no storefront in MA. If Townfaire Tire didnt have any stores in MA, then this lawsuit would never have been able to have been formed.
- Scotto, salem
It's nice to see Lynch actually doing something for a change.
- RJ, Concord
This has always been a problem with those "thugs" down there in taxachusetts. Where do these people get the idea that they can ignore sovereign borders, go anywhere ( recall them sitting in NH liquor store parking lots? ) & do anything they want where ever they want!? They have no legal authority to impose anything on anyone here in the state of NEW HAMPSHIRE! Bunch of clueless money grubbing worms that you are, try cleaning up your own mess in your own backyard and stay the hell out of ours!
- Bob, Candia
If Massachusetts wins this (god forbid) then I think the only way to retaliate is to have NH tax agents impose on Massachusetts to cease and desist from collecting THEIR taxes from OUR residents, also to include THEIR INCOME TAX. What's good for the goose...
- Tony, Nottingham, NH
A Clue for our Governor!
I need to find me a job in NH so I can stop paying MA income taxes.
- Jay, Manchester
Here's a thought (bear with me on this one):
1. Institute a statewide income tax in NH to deny the MA tax juggernaut the opportunity to collect that pool of "free" money. "Sorry, Mass, we can't pay YOUR income tax anymore, we have our own".
2. Immediately issue a 100% statewide income tax refund.
End result: we get to keep our money AND we get to really stick it to our tax thug "neighbors".
That would teach 'em!
- Steph, Bedford
If this were to become law, it would devistate retail in the border towns. As eveyone else said, what right does Mass have in forcing NH Businesses to collect taxes for them? As ell, it would just be the beginning for out of state tax collection.
I remember all the previous fights in Salem between the MA SP and NH SP.
I don't know much about interstate commerce but I guess the MA Supreme court ruled because that tire business is also in MA.
If we win I'll bet you'll see a toll on Rte 93 just south of the NH border to get us back and find another way to get our money!
- Bob Ahern, Derry
Taxachussetts still thinks that if they aggressively tax their citizens, even via out of state commerce,that this will enhance their already FAILING revenue system. Well good luck to you I guess. Seems to be working 'oh, so well already'. School system is on the verge of collapse, road system is in chaos, big dig still has HUGE costly maintainence issues, the list goes on & on. Im tryin real hard to see if there is anything that they can do right. Solution?: get rid of the executive level greed of government. Get some young bright HONEST people into the system to fix it!
- Tim, Hooksett
Kudos to Governor Lynch for standing up against this outrageous move. As if they don't stick it to their own residents enough, now they want New Hampshire to aid the taxachusetts scam.
How the Bay State justifies this move is beyond me...Especially seeing as they have had no problem over the years collecting the full percentage of income tax from those of us who live in NH and work in Ma, even though we require little to no services that our tax dollars are suppose to pay for. How about a rebate on all that free money? I won't hold my breath
I guess they need help from out of state to make up for all the money that got stuffed up the shirts of their own state legislators or swallowed up by the big dig
- Mark, Hampstead
Wow! Mitt Romney should be shaking in his boots! Can you imagine what he will owe Mass for goods purchased in NH and maybe even used in Mass? A house on Winni? A boat or two? Vehicles? Renovations? All of these commodities could have been purchased from companies that also do business in Mass - like Town Fair Tire.
As has been stated - Mass Tax Law places the burden of reporting these types of purchases directly on the taxpayer - not the merchant. If Mass knows it's missing out on tax revenue - go after the taxpayer! Why don't they? It's nearly impossible to learn that, for example, tires were purchased out-of-state.
Too bad Taxachusetts, your drowning in debt, and looking for quick sources of income. Look within.
- Steve, Wolfeboro
No wonder most of NH's current residents were originally from Massachusetts. They had enough of the arrogant buracracy that seems to resemble the tax rebellion of the original colonists. Some things never change.
- R., Deerfield
Guinta had NOTHING to do with the Gov's decision. The only reason Guinta was even mentioned is because it was a "MANCHESTER" Union Leader story. GOP needs NEW names, not OLD insider more of the same. No more annointing.
- Scott, Derry
It is not Massachusetts' business what goes on in New Hampshire. Their arrogance is incredible!
Thank you Governor Lynch for defending our State against the Mass. tax thugs.
- Rick, Brookfield, NH
Mass. should be smacked down on this, and smacked hard. Although I was only a kid at the time, I recall when Mass. sent state troopers up to sit in the parking lots of NH liqour stores, where they would copy down plate numbers of Bay Staters making tax free purchases. Gov. Mel Thompson put his foot down on this practice by ordering the NH state police to arrest the Mass. troopers for loitering. Ah, the good 'ol days! While Mass. doesn't have a legal leg to stand on with this, it would still be fun to see the NH legislature pass something to the effect of "Massachusetts Can Go Pound Sand".
- Mark K., Manchester
Yet, another reason why MA is such a bad place. Only a mesure such as this could come from the administration of Governor Erkel.
- Rick Olson, Manchester
I own a business in Nashua and people from Mass buy all the time. Do you think that I have ever paid a dime to that retarded state. NO... The person buying is the one obligated to report the purchase if indeed they travel back to Mass with the product.. What if it is a gift or something for the lake house.. or they are on vacation in this state. Do you think Mass is going to pay me to police the tax situation for them in NH.. I dont thinks so..
Like Joe said above.. It is an issue for the State of Mass and its residents and not the business owners in NH..
Thanks Govenor Lynch for you work..
And thanks to all Mass residents who shop in NH..
- Jamie, Nashua
Maybe the incoming Secretary of Commerce might be interested in this one as well. It sounds like Massachusetts is messing with the Interstate Commerce Clause of The Constitution.
- Bruce, New London
Kudos to Lynch and Ayotte for getting this right and fighting the good fight.
The notion that a business operating in NH should be responsibile for tracking where their merchandise goes once people take possession of it in NH is ludicrous.
The Mass DOR operates like the Mob - they bully and threaten and intimidate people into submission. Town Fair Tire is a well run, reputable business, and I'm glad they're not taking this crap from MDOR.
Does anyone else find it ironic that MA is the site of the Boston Tea Party? How did they get to where they are from there? MA is surely a state that lost it's way long ago. I guess keeping the Kennedy's fat and drunk is more important than the principles upon which the state was founded.
- Jose H, Manchester, NH
It's time NH stop fooling around with Mass. See all those people driving south on Evert Turnpike and RT 93 everyday? They pay Mass income tax, have no vote in Mass and cannot take advantage of Mass services like in-state tuition at U Mass, etc. Many NH citizens pay Mass taxes and with some creativity and changes to NH tax code they could send the money to their home state instead. Why pay Mass?
This is not simple, but it must be able to be done...
As an example, NH residents working in MA pay income tax to Mass. But last I knew, schedule Z of the Massachusetts non-resident return allows you to fully deduct income taxes paid to your resident state.
NH should have an ‘tax’ on wages earned out of state that is exactly equal to what those people would pay to the other state. Those people then can credit the full amount paid to NH from the Mass income taxes and thus owned nothing to Mass. So, fill out your Mass return, but pay the calculated amount to NH. Now deduct what you paid to NH and show that you own nothing to Mass. This is government operations, so I suspect it wouldn’t be quite that simple, but I’m not a lawyer or part of a group working full time. A few tax attorney and tax accounts, and legislations, should be able to make this happen.
I have heard people say that this cannot be done, or that it was attempted, etc. I don’t buy it. I think we need a greater effort. How can we not do this, when Mass does it. Non-residents have an entirely different set of form and rules around their income taxes than do their residents. As an example, residents can deduct rent, but non-residents cannot (again, last I knew), residents have many other deductions not available to non-residents, so it is not unlikely that non-residents pay a higher effective income tax then their own residents.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester
Make no mistake about it, this is a vicious attack on New Hampshire's economy and businesses. Even if this fails in court, MA is trying to send a message to its subjects not to buy stuff in New Hampshire.
Governor Lynch needs to shove this right back down the throat of the scumbag bureacrats in Taxachusetts. The financial viability and prosperity of New Hampshire businesses is at stake here and we must make sure that Taxachusetts understands that New Hampshire will NOT bow down to them under any circumstances!
- Jim, Wilton
Congrats. to Lynch and Ayotte for fighting this one. Their arguments against it are also very sound. The brazen behavior of these Mass Tax thugs is breathtaking.
- michael, cornish
This attempt by MA to collect sales taxes across state lines is clearly a violation of the US Constitution's Interstate Commerce Clause. The MA SJC will most likely rule in favor of MA as state courts are usually beholden to the politics of the state. Once this gets into Federal Court or the US Supreme Court, this should be shot down fairly quickly.
MA might want to tread carefully here as if this does get into Federal Court or the US Supreme Court, one could also argue that MA's collection of income taxes on NH residents who work in MA is also a gross violation of Interstate Commerce...
- Rick, Hampton
Good move Governor Lynch. It's nice to be able to support you on a good fight protecting New Hampshire sovereignty. I hope the citizens of New Hampshire can count on the same good decisions on our second amendment rights as well. I'm sure the attacks on those are coming as well.
- Ross, Derry
It's always a great laugh to read the Globe and see how the suckers in that state are being taken for a ride. The city of Boston is laying off 900 employees, 300 of whom, are teachers, the town of Winthrop just eliminated the position of Chief of Police yet the pols backslap each other and pass sweetheart deals that give them hefty pension boosts for only a couple years service ( we've got nothing to complain about our retirement system) and you know what? The dopes complain an keep voting the same leeches and jackasses in. People get the kind of government that they deserve.
- Paul, Derry
First, I thought this was interstate commerce, covered by federal law, not state law, so why is the Mass SJC even ruling on this for? I can't see it having any real teeth if it goes to federal court.
Second, I agree with Joe, pass legislation, and when Mass tries to enforce their tax here, we indict Deval Patrick and the other Mass muckity-mucks. I think it would be funny if Deval, et al had NH warrants out for their arrest.
- Kevin C, Nashua
This is simply a matter of state sovereignty, and judicial jurisdiction. New Hampshire is a sovereign state, and the Massachusetts tax department and the Massachusetts court system simply have no jurisdiction to impose rules, regulations or laws outside the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The Mass law requires mass residents to claim out of state purchases. Clearly the onus is on the Mass resident. The law does not say that out of state retailers have to act as collection agents for the Commonwealth, nor does the Commonwealth have the authority to appoint out of state retailers as their agents.
Can you imagine the Pandora's box this will open up if it is allowed? NH retailers having to collect taxes and distribute them to 49 other states, plus territories and possessions throughout the United States? Just the extra cost of trying to keep those books straight will put many business out of business.
Massachusetts has gone too far, and it's time someone puts them in their place. It's good to see Lynch taking a stand on this issue. Thank you Governor Lynch!
- Dave, Manchester
Good to see Governor Lynch followed the lead of Mayor Guinta on this issue. Better late than never I guess.
- Mark, Amherst
The citizens of Mass are supposed to declare their out of state purchases. We all know that most don’t, and advertise NH as the “Tax Free State” to those scofflaws. However, NH may be an accessory to a crime here. We know a crime is likely being committed, yet we encourage it and fail to report the crime to the proper authorities. Maybe the state line eliminates the responsibility to care. That is what the courts need to decide. However, if the Mass tax folks come looking for their money, NH businesses should levy a hefty “service fee” associated with processing their request.
- Bill, Moultonborough
The comment from Kyle in Florida reminds me of an incident in the 1980's.
Salem N.H. had a retail chain called Cuomo's that sold electronics and appliances. Cuomo's was delivering merchandise to customers in Mass. The Mass. tax goons got wind of it and charged Cuomo's for sales tax evasion. Soon afterwards, Cuomo's went out of business.
If Mass. wins it's case, this will not bode well for retail towns on the border of Taxachusetts.
- Paul, Bedford
It is good to see Lynch and Ayotte fighting this. The "arrogant thugs" who run Massachusetts don't expect people to fight back. They should file a separate suit in Federal Court. I doubt the "hacks" in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court would rule against the State.
- Chris, Merrimack
Taxachusetts is a word / phrase that is Native American in origin and loosely translated means "at the place of great taxes". Seriously, Mass requires it's residents to claim out of state purchases on their income tax forms. Mass should be auditing it's own citizens instead of any out of state business. Imposing upon NH businesses is ridiculous!
- Joe, Londonderry
Out of state businesses are not the problem, its the State of Massachusetts. I always thought the law was "where you took posession of the merchandise". In other words, if you buy something in New Hampshire and take it home to MA, there is no sales tax. If you buy in NH and have it DELIVERED to MA you're taking posession in MA and pay the sales tax. If that's not how the law is written, it would be a simple way of fixing the problem.
- Kyle, Beverly Hills, FL
In the late 80's I had a systems installation business in Vermont. We installed half a dozen systems in nearby Massachusetts towns. The Mass tax department announced they were going to audit us. I asked them how they thought they could come into my Vermont business and and audit my books. They said, because they were the Mass tax department. I told them they had no authority to do anything in Vermont. When they finally realized I wasn't going to give in over dozens of calls and letters, they told me the next time one of my trucks was in Mass, it would be seized. They never did, I never paid. When I moved to NH, Vermont tried to collect income taxes for time worked on Vermont. I laughed and ignored them. They sent me bills for several years that I threw away. This is really nothing new. Just an extension of what they have been doing for decades.
- David, Chesterfield
Why isn't there legislation already in place to prohibit any business from imposing such a tax? I'm thinking that would put a halt to the entire situation right there. Deny any out of state business from operating in the State of NH that attempts to impose a tax. Ban them from the state and they will quickly get the message.
- Joe, Manchester
"State House Dome: Lynch to fill top state positions"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, The NH Union Leader, Sunday, March 1, 2009
Gov. John Lynch has a growing list of major offices he needs to fill.
Attorney General Kelly Ayotte's term expires on March 31. There are three other major empty, or about to be empty, posts at Supreme Court, Employment Security and Education.
The Executive Council, which will have to approve Ayotte or a replacement, has been happy with her performance. Police groups can't say enough good things about her. And Lynch himself has been pleased as Ayotte worked hard on issues he pushed, like Internet safety for children and tougher penalties for sexual offenders.
Lynch press secretary Colin Manning said there is nothing to report on Ayotte's future yet. "We'll have more to say about that soon," he said.
Ayotte, who doesn't like to talk about such things, was willing to offer a few words last week.
"I am interested in being reappointed as Attorney General," she said. "I have talked to the governor about it, and I certainly feel like I've had good working relationship with the council," she said.
Anything but a reappointment would set off shock waves, although privately some Democrats are upset that Lynch is unlikely to replace Ayotte with one of their own.
Michael Brunelle, state Democratic party executive director, said the party trusts Lynch to do the right thing based on his track record.
Richard Brothers, now facing misdemeanor fraud charges, clearly will not be reappointed as commissioner of Employment Security when his term ends April 1. The question is whether Lynch will bother naming anyone, or let deputy commissioner Darrell Gates run the place for awhile. Lynch said in his budget address he's exploring putting the entire office into the Department of Resources and Economic Development. The move could "reduce costs and strengthen services," he said.
Education Commissioner Lyonel Tracy has said he doesn't want reappointment when his term expires on March 23. Manning said Lynch, as always, will talk to qualified people he thinks will be a good fit for the role of commissioner. The Supreme Court is one justice shy of its full complement of five after Justice Richard Galway retired Feb. 1. The Judicial Selection Commission is working to present Lynch with a short list of possible nominees. The JSC advertised for applicants and closed the window on Feb. 6, so this could take a bit longer.
- - - - -
SCRUBBING SCRUBBERS?: There will be room for a crowd when the subject of capping costs for Merrimack Station power plant upgrades comes up this week.
The House Science, Energy and Technology Committee has reserved Representatives Hall, with all 400 floor seats, to hear testimony on HB 496. The bill caps spending for mercury scrubbers at the coal-fired Bow power plant at $250 million.
Rep. Tara Sad, who sponsored the bill with Rep. Christine Hamm, said the $250 million figure was considered a wild top end figure when the Legislature approved the project. Now the cost is close to $460 million, she said.
"We don't think this is a very good idea, one, because it's doubled in cost and, two, it is an old facility whose life is nearing its end," Sad said.
"Do we want to sink that much money into that, instead of alternate energy and renewable forms of energy?" she asked. "This is a dinosaur we're patching up here." The scrubber will remove 80 percent of the mercury that now is emitted from the plant's smokestacks. PSNH has said the project will add about $1.65 a month to the 500 kilowatts of power it uses as the benchmark for an average home.
Martin Murray, spokesman for the plant owner, Public Service of New Hampshire, said the project already has gone under contract for $230 million of the expected costs. Customers won't be asked to pay for the work until after it is finished, he said, and then it will be up to the Public Utilities Commission.
"We can't recover these costs unless regulators find they are prudent and appropriate, and that audit and review process is completely open to the public," he said.
HB 496 is one of two bills on the Bow plant now before lawmakers. SB 152, sponsored by Sen. Harold Janeway, would require the PUC to conduct a fast-track study of the scrubber project to determine if it is still in the interest of retail customers.
A group of business ratepayers headed by Stonyfield Farms president Gary Hirshberg has led opposition to the project.
Janeway's bill requires a study to be finished 90 days after the bill passes.
- - - - -
TOWN CLERKS FRET: A bill to let auto dealers issue car titles and registrations has town clerks in a panic, fearing the loss of fees they collect and revenue to their towns.
But Sen. Bob Letourneau, sponsor of SB 99, and the N.H. Auto Dealers Association, say it's all due to an error in the way the bill was drafted. He promises to bring a fixed version to a public hearing on Tuesday morning.
"The intent was never, and I stress never, to take any money away from the towns or the town clerks. So they will receive every dollar they always got," he said Friday.
The bill also estimates that it could cost up to $4.6 million a year to fit up dealers to handle the work, which would include registration renewals.
Letourneau said estimates on the cost had not been completed when he agreed to sponsor the bill.
Peter McNamara, president of the NHADA, said about 30 other states have the system in place. "We are not reinventing the wheel here," he said.
Andy Houle, selectman in Barnstead, said the Senate ought to hit the brakes.
"If there's an error in that bill, they should postpone the hearing until it's corrected on the Internet," he said. "The way it's worded now we would lose all our revenue from taxes on new and used vehicles. In his town, that amounts to about $300,000 a year," he said.
- - - - -
JUST SAY NO TOLL TOWN: The new version of a change in E-ZPass discounts gives a break to all commuters, but don't try selling it in Merrimack.
Town residents have long complained about how difficult it is to get around town without using the F.E. Everett Turnpike. They argue they pay more tolls than any other town in the state and want the toll booths out, period.
The House votes this week on a bill that cuts the E-ZPass discount from 30 percent to 15 percent for all users. To help commuters out, it sets a cap on monthly charges for each transponder at 33 trips through the tolls. Gov. Lynch wanted to cap monthly charges at $30 for all users, and eliminate the discount.
That will help Merrimack soccer moms as well as commuters, but Rep. Peter Batula said it's not enough.
"I'm looking to get rid of the tolls, not just make deals on them. I certainly will look closely at it but unless we have a real commitment to get rid or these tolls once and for all, I don't think the effort in Merrimack is going to stop," Batula said.
Maureen Mooney, a former state representative from Merrimack, echoed Batula.
"There is no substitute for the real thing, and that is toll-booth removal," she said.
- - - - -
SEALING UP STATE: The PUC has released a request for proposals on projects that will spend up to $6.5 million for energy efficiency and conservation. The funds come from the auction of CO2 emission credits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Lynch has said he thinks some of the funds should be used for weatherization projects and energy improvements at state buildings to produce long-term savings and energy conservation.
- - - - -
BUDGET ROAD SHOW: The House Finance Committee has set firm dates for public hearings on the 2010-11 state budget in communities around the state. The first will be at Salem High School's media center on Monday, March 9. Members of the Ways and Means Committee will sit on the meeting.
Next up, on Thursday, March 12, the committee heads to Claremont, where it plans to meet at River Valley Community College. Last, on Monday, March 16, the committee holds a hearing in Whitefield at White Mountain Regional High School. All hearings are scheduled to start at 6 p.m.
Tom Fahey is State House bureau chief for New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News.
Have the public vote for Attorney General? Are you kidding? Ever ask 20 people at random how many U.S. Supreme Court justices they can name - (or even just the Chief Justice)? While you're at it, ask them to name their state reps. 'Nuff said -- let's leave those decisions to the professionals. Our founding fathers had it right.
- bill_o, manchester
I thought there was a hiring freeze?
- Dave, Concord
Do you have even one peice of evidence to support your rant? I will guess, NO! I will also guess that you, or someone you know was prosecuted by her office, so you're jaded on the issue.
I don't see where Ayotte has done anything that would cause her to not be reappointed. Especially given the last year. I think she is doing a fine job.
Interesting that the democrates are mad with Lynch because he may not appoint "one of there own." I guess Obama's dream of bipartisinship doesn't extend into state government in New Hampshire! Or, is it that they want to knock her off her public post so she will not have as much publicity/face time/name recognition leading up to a run for Governor in a couple of years?
If she were to run for Governor, I'll vote for her (I'd vote for her twice or three times if she and I were democrates and we could get away with.....where is the republican version of ACORN? Oh yeah, republicans don't cheat)
- J, Concord
Yes, lets vote on every state goverment appointee, that makes perfect sense. Appointee implies that they are well.....appointed. Your tax dollars work for you, not every person who touches them...get real.
- Dorothy, Concord
I do not believe that most Democrats trust Lynch on this. All signs point to the renomination of Ayotte. The NH Democratic Party has to be more proactive in urging Lynch to name anybody else but Ayotte. I am shocked that Raymond Buckley and Michael Brunelle find the status quo acceptable.
- Bill, Amherst
Donna, What are you taking about ?There is not a more honest person in State government than Kelly Ayotte. She will prosecute anyone who has committed a crime and the evidence is sufficent to convict them. Look at her track record. She has not wasted a dime of the State's money, it costs a fortune to prosecute someone for murder and seek the death penalty, which she has done twice in the past year and been sucessful on both attempts. I think you need to get your facts straight.
- Garrett Chamberlain, Jaffrey
If Ayotte has done a good job then why not reappoint her? Who the heck cares if she is a Democrat or a Republican or a Green or a Libertarian or an Independent?
What should matter is her job performance. New Hampshire needs the best qualified people in office not mindless appoints for patronage purposes.
It seems like Governor Lynch is thinking along the same lines. So hopefully she will be reappointed. If she isn't simply because of her party affiliation then that means that ability and experience don't matter to the governor.
- Bob Thornton, Milford
How about letting the citzens of N.H.vote for a new Attorney General. One they know will work for them, not against them. One that will take complaints of abuse toward citizens by state agencies and investigate their wrong doings.
- Sheila, Nashua
Nice to know the Gov. and "executive council" are happy with Ayotte's performance.
Here is a thought for the UL...........
Do a poll so that the public can weigh in on this issue.
Doesn't she work for the citizens of NH ?
She has wasted million's of tax payer's dollars.
She has proven time and time again she can not follow the very law she was appointed to enforce.
I can not imagine she has many "get out of jail free" card's laft to hand out to corrupt official's because she has used so many.
Then again the Gov. promised to clean up "public office's" and restore "integrity" to our state. We are still waiting.............
They do have a lot in common. Perhap's the interests/personal agendas of some are being served but it is not the citizen's of NH.
She needs to goooooooooooooooooooo !
- Donna, Littleton
"Executive Council holding Ayotte hearing"
Boston.com, March 12, 2009
CONCORD, N.H. --The Executive Council will hold a public hearing on Governor John Lynch's nomination of Attorney General Kelly Ayotte to fill the seat for another term. The hearing is scheduled for March 25, 2009, at 9:30 a.m. at the Statehouse.
The council votes on the nomination next month.
Lynch, a Democrat, and Ayotte, a Republican, have worked closely together over the past four years.
Ayotte has been attorney general since 2004.
"AG: group should study expanding death penalty"
AP, March 16, 2009
CONCORD, N.H. --Death penalty opponents are pushing for a commission they hope will lead to abolishing capital punishment in New Hampshire, but the state's top prosecutor says not so fast.
The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recently recommended creating the study commission. If the bill becomes law, Attorney General Kelly Ayotte or someone from her office will sit on the commission, which would issue a report by the end of next year.
Ayotte says she thinks any group studying the issue ought to look not just at repealing the death penalty, but expanding it to include other crimes, such as serial killers or those who commit multiple murders in one setting.
"Expect some surprises today ... just ask Kelly Ayotte"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, The NH Union Leader, 4/1/2009
Concord – It was April Fool on the state's top law enforcement official today.
After casting an April Fools' Day vote against her, the Executive Council reversed itself and approved Attorney General Kelly Ayotte for another four-year term this morning.
The council voted unanimously for Ayotte in its first serious vote of the day, after voting unanimously against her just a minute earlier.
Ayotte has been in the job since former Attorney General Peter Heed resigned in 2004. Lynch nominated Ayotte to her first full four-year term in April 2005.
Councilor Raymond Burton, R-Bath, said that even though Ayotte had been swimming in rivers in his district, he didn’t feel ready to vote for her today.
Councilor Raymond Wieczorek, R-Manchester, said the vote was vitally important and needed a roll call.
Ayotte became red-faced about halfway through the discussion and smiled.
“I was about to leave, although I did remember it’s April Fools' Day,” she said after the vote that counted.
The council and gallery gave her a standing round of applause, and Gov. John Lynch gave her a handshake and a hug. He said last month he did not consider anyone else for the job when he knew Ayotte’s first term was ending.
Councilor Debora Pignatelli, D-Nashua, said that a hearing on her nomination last week showed “the public is generally very supportive” of Ayotte getting a second four-year term.
Ayotte has worked closely with Lynch to tighten state laws protecting children from on-line predators, and toughening laws on sex offenders. She successfully led the prosecution of a capital murder case against Michael Addision last year for the 2006 murder of Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs. Addison is now appealing his death sentence.
She has also argued for the state at the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking to reverse a lower court ruling that said the state’s 2003 parental notification law was unconstitutional. The state won a partial victory, but the law has since been repealed.
Ayotte has spent most of her career with the Attorney General’s Office, once leading its homicide division and serving as deputy attorney general under Heed.
"State playing catch-up on ethics procedures"
By STAFF REPORT, NH Union Leader, Sunday, April 12, 2009
CONCORD – About 1,500 state and county employees and officials have filed financial disclosure forms so far this year as required by state ethics laws, but some forms are incomplete, more than half were received late, and others have yet to be filed, according to a review by the New Hampshire Sunday News.
The disclosure forms -- which report outside income of more than $10,000 for designated employees, officials and their families -- are supposed to be filed with the Secretary of State's office no later than the third Friday in January.
Some people who filed late or with incomplete information complained they weren't sent early reminders this year, as they had been in the past.
Others said the forms, which are supposed to help guard against public corruption, are unclear.
One lawmaker plans to submit legislation in the fall to end the confusion for filers and for citizens who want to file ethics complaints.
People required to report range from the many volunteers appointed to boards and commissions to lawmakers, the governor, and candidates for state and county offices, as well as to state employees in non-classified positions. Filers are largely on the honor system as to the truthfulness of their reports unless someone files a complaint, according to Assistant Attorney General James Kennedy. Knowingly failing to file is a misdemeanor, but most people who fail to file probably are simply unaware of the law's requirements, Kennedy said.
"If we had a bona fide complaint, rest assured, I would conduct an inquiry," Kennedy said.
If filers have forgotten to report a family member's income or non-federal retirement benefits, they should amend their reports, Kennedy said.
The Sunday News found less than half, or about 625 financial-disclosure forms, were filed by the Jan. 16 deadline. More have been filed since. As of last week, scores of people still were filing forms each week, after Kennedy sent out a belated reminder March 17.
The Sunday News reported Feb. 8 that the financial-disclosure and gift and reimbursement forms were not being reviewed by the Attorney General's Office or being posted online three years after the law mandated they do so as soon as practical. But the office of the Secretary of State has since been posting the forms on its Web site and Kennedy has been reviewing the forms.
Secretary of State William Gardner said his office has worked hard to get the 2009 reports online and plans to post reports dating back to 2006. He said he expects that to be completed by summer.
Anyone seeking to lodge an ethics-related complaint can do so by contacting the Attorney General's Office at 271-3655 or by visiting its Web site, he said.
Confusion abounds relative to filing ethics forms, according to state Rep. James Splaine, D-Portsmouth. He plans to file legislation in the fall to make it easier for the many elected and appointed officials to file, and also to make it easier for citizens to get complete information and file complaints if they perceive a problem.
Kevin O'Brien, who retired from New Hampshire State Police nine years ago, failed to report the state retirement benefits he received as a source of outside income last year, even though the form specifically states in italics that retirement benefits other than federal retirement or disability benefits must be included.
"I read that (form), and I found the instructions weren't very clear," O'Brien said. "It was certainly not an attempt to hide anything."
O'Brien, who is now chief of policy and planning for the Department of Safety, also didn't check off the box for the N.H. Retirement System under the second part of the form. That section asks if the filer or a family member has a special interest in any of 18 listed professions or matters that include the state retirement system; real estate; banking, state, county or municipal employment; education; and any business regulated by the Public Utilities Commission.
O'Brien wasn't alone.
Several department heads whose forms were reviewed by the Sunday News and who collect state retirement benefits also failed to list the benefits. On some forms, it was unclear whether filers included information about family members' earnings of more than $10,000. The law doesn't require filers to list exact amounts, just the name of the organization or employer if the earnings were more than $10,000.
I think it is unrealistic to expect our elected officials to have filed these forms so early in the year. They have been very busy adopting cats, creating an official state dog, licensing horses, raising taxes, stealing funds from local cities and towns, eliminating the need to decide which bathroom you can use, and so much more. How can we expect them to find time for something like ethics when they have this much on their plate?
- Tom Grinley, Bradford
We can't trust the crooks in power to police themselves. Can we perhaps get our act together enough to vote them out?
Better late than never.
- Rowland, Fremont
Kevin O'Brien, who retired from New Hampshire State Police nine years ago, failed to report the state retirement benefits he received as a source of outside income last year, even though the form specifically states in italics that retirement benefits other than federal retirement or disability benefits must be included.
"I read that (form), and I found the instructions weren't very clear," O'Brien said. "It was certainly not an attempt to hide anything"
If your unclear why wouldn't you ask, OR if it reads like the first paragraph, maybe you should have read it slower.......or have somebody read it and explain it to you.
- George, Concord
They weren't sent early reminders??? How much hand holding do these people need?
- Liz, Manchester
A sad state of affairs! If we are to have an ethics program, and I personally believe we should in light of the steady string of crooks and scoundrels being exposed in politics, then we should enforce it! The Governor is the person where the buck stops. Maybe he can take time out from Easter Egg hunts and the like and actually manage state government.
- John Linville, Wolfeboro
"Slain officer's mom makes plea to Senate panel"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, The NH Union Leader, April 15, 2009
CONCORD – The mother of slain Manchester police officer Michael Briggs told a Senate committee yesterday the state should keep its death penalty laws on the books to protect other police officers.
"Let these criminals and murderers know you don't come to New Hampshire and you don't kill a police officer," Maryann Briggs told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Opponents of the death penalty argued for the repeal, saying the criminal justice system is too inexact, death is handed down too inconsistently, and execution is too expensive.
"We're deluding ourselves if we think that at some point we're not going to make a mistake," said former homicide prosecutor Barbara Keshen, now part of the state Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. "None of us are good enough for this," she said.
Gov. John Lynch has stated he will veto the bill if it gets to his desk.
Attorney General Kelly Ayotte urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the repeal contained in HB 556, which the House passed on a 193-174 vote last month.
Ayotte said that should a repeal become law, the state would be hard-pressed to carry out Addison's death sentence, imposed by a jury in December after it found him guilty of capital murder.
"There's no question in my mind that it would impact the case," she said.
No one has been executed in New Hampshire since 1939. Two death sentences in the 1970s were overturned by a sweeping U.S. Supreme Court decision. A jury last fall refused to return a death sentence against millionaire businessman Jay Brooks, who got life without parole in a murder-for-hire killing.
A number of police spokesmen, including Manchester Police Chief David Mara and Mrs. Briggs, mother of the slain officer, spoke against repeal yesterday.
"Mr. Addison today sits on death row and believe me, he deserves everything he got -- capital murder, death. We need to keep the death penalty," Mrs. Briggs said.
Death penalty opponents argued that the justice system is not fool-proof. Prosecutors, juries and judges all can make mistakes. The risk that one innocent person will be put to death is too great to run, they argued.
Michael Iacopino, past president of the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said the death sentences are disproportionately imposed against the poor and minorities and are extremely expensive to carry out.
The state has no execution chamber, and the Department of Corrections has drafted plans to spend $1.8 million to build one.
Members of the American Friends Service Committee, the Council of Churches and the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Manchester pressed for repeal.
AFSC state Executive Director Arnie Alpert said the state hasn't decided whether to hire an outside executioner or to train one as a state worker.
In either case, he said, "it takes premeditated killing to a new and grisly level . . . New Hampshire does not have to turn to murder-for-hire."
Bishop John B. McCormack said in written testimony: "The death penalty is unnecessary to ensure public safety today and is not consistent with preserving the dignity of human life."
Joshua Rubenstein of Amnesty International noted that 138 countries have repealed death penalty laws, most recently Uzbekistan and Argentina. Five countries accounted for 93 percent of the world's judicial executions in 2008 -- the U.S., China, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, he said.
Former Marlborough Police Chief Raymond Dodge was the only person from law enforcement to argue for repeal. If one person is wrongly executed, he said, "You can't undo that injustice."
Manchester Police Detective Lt. Nick Willard said the Senate should reject the repeal and adopt a pending bill that creates a study of the death penalty.
"People don't think about how this affects police officers," he said. "This has sent shivers up the spine of law enforcement."
Ayotte agreed with police officers who testified, saying a repeal "would be viewed as an insult and a dishonor to the sacrifices made by Officer Michael Briggs and every officer who puts their life on the line every day."
Here is an idea..... On your tax return it asks if you want to contribute $3.00 to the presidents fund.
Have it in NH where all the people who are against the death penalty can contribute to the "Death Penalty Fund" and when the money contributed to keep the killers runs out, then give the death penalty.
I am sure all these people that dont beleive in the death penalty will want to support them bycontributing their money to keep convicted killers to the death penalty alive
- Rob, Milford
Jeff in Manchester
How DARE you try to justify Officer Briggs mothers' feelings. You can't put youself in her place, not many of us can. This creep has offered no value to ANYONE in his lifetime. His life is worth NOTHING.
- Michelle, Chichester
To the uber lib Pat Kraft, does that mean you will pay 100% of the costs for Addison if the death penalty is repealed? Maybe you and your bleeding heart friends can pay for him instead of soaking the rest of the taxpayers.
- Alex K., Deering, NH
Just a clarification to this story. The New Hampshire Department of Corrections has not submitted a capital budget request of $1.8 million to construct a lethal injection chamber. The NH Division of Public Works and a contracted vendor worked with us to study our long and short term needs and the result of this was our 2007 Master Plan. In that plan there was a recommendation to build the chamber and some cost estimates and analysis were projected but no plans have been submitted.
- Jeff Lyons, Public Info. Officer, NHDOC, Concord NH
Apparently the death penalty for Addison has not quelled his mothers anger. The death penalty does nothing to bring anybody to justice. It only eliminates another human life. It obviously has not brought any closure to the family and frankly probably never will. POlice Officer have a difficult job no doubt about it. The problem with the Death Penalty is what happens if NH ever executes the wrong person? You can never bring someone back from the grave and say...oops...sorry. As long as the system is prone to mistakes then the Death Penalty should be abandoned.
- Jeff, Manchester
We need some good ole Texas law up here where they're NOT afraid to put a bad criminal to death for his/her bad criminal choices. Its getting to be in this country that everybody has rights but, nobody is responsble for they're actions. New Hampshire is totally weakening itself by this unfortunate "rule". Put these murderous criminals to death and stop wasting the tax payers money and time. Eye for an eye.
- Dave, Manchester
Keep the Death Penalty! I'm fed up with spending my tax money on these idiots while they stay in jail and get clothing, bedding & meals for free!
NOT FAIR!!! They committed a crime, let them pay the piper! Keep the Death Penalty! And use it!
- Ben Stern, Bedford
Keep the death penalty, get rid of the politicians.
- Bob H, Londonderry
NH has a very specific and fair death penalty which is meant to punish people who with direct malice murder someone. Keep the death penalty. The money issue is a red herring.
- Mike, Newmarket
"Let these criminals and murderers know you don't come to New Hampshire and you don't kill a police officer."
Uhhhhh...we currently have the death penalty, and a criminal still came to NH and killed a cop.
Perhaps we can just put a head on a pike at all the borders to remind them as they enter the state.
- SM, Bedford
NH has proven without any doubt that it does not hand out a death sentence to anyone not deserving. Additionally advances in technology and the safeguards in place within the judicial system have virtually eliminated the chance of a false conviction. And Pat, it is 100 percent scientifically certain once executed the criminal will not kill anyone again - whether it be on the outside in the public arena, or within the prison walls - thus ensuring the public's safety 100 percent from that individual.
- Dale, Chichester
Laura, search gencourt.state.nh.us for "Senate Calendar" or look up HB556 directly there.
- Mark, Rochester
"No one has been executed in New Hampshire since 1939. Two death sentences in the 1970s were overturned by a sweeping U.S. Supreme Court decision. A jury last fall refused to return a death sentence against millionaire businessman Jay Brooks, who got life without parole in a murder-for-hire killing".
When will we all realize that NH is not a death penality state. I support the death penality but it's just not going to happen, in this state,PERIOD.
Were going to spend a fortune trying to kill Addison and it will be wasted money. Those are the sad facts of the situation but their REALITY. Not a wish list!
- BA, Derry
Hey Pat..no scientific proof? How about we actually put a few to death once the sentence is handed down. You will see proof after that.
And Jason is right 1.8 million dollars for a death chamber? lethal injection is the means in NH isnt it? how about a bed with an extension to place one's arm on, use a needle and your done... Any room would do....
- Frank, manchester
Pat from Concord, please cite your source and identify one person who has been executed in this country and later proven innocent.
It has to be the US, not one of your terrorist ally countries such as Cuba.
You are wrong. There have been a number of people on death row, and that is a little close, but not one documented case.
And please don't use the story of the guy who came forward after his partner in crime was executed and said that he did it. That's garbage and you know it.
It's a little difficult to conduct studies on what deters criminals, and that assumes that the death penalty is designed as a deterrent. It is for the one criminal but it is meant to be punishment. Pure and simple.
Take the life of a police officer, judge, correctional officer or while kidnapping, raping another, you sacrifice yours.
- Melvin, Keene
Let's recap: Addison walked up to Officer Briggs, put a gun to his head and shot him. Proven fact, period. Is there something we missed? Is that being "inexact"? We should let this man live on taxpayer's money because someday someone might make a mistake and convict someone in a year long trial and sentence them to death? a sentence that will be reviewed and appealed for 2 more years to make sure they got it right? Why don't we just declare open season on law enforcement officers?!
- Bill, Whitefield
The only reason it would cost 1.8 million dollars for a death chamber is because of liberal loonies like the ACLU and silver spoon Harvard judges. All a proper death chamber needs is a few 2x4's a wood plank, a trap door, and a short rope. Stupid frivolous appeals and motions cost us wasted money and a sense that justice doesn't matter when it takes so long. Death is the ultimate deterent for men and women that kill for greed, lust, or to escape their crimes. Anything less is more opportunity for the ACLU and liberal judges to let killers back on the streets.
- Jason Smith, Chester
There is no scientific proof that the death penalty would deter a criminal from murdering anyone, including police officers. There is statistical proof that people have been wrongly convicted and put to death, only to be found innocent after the fact. Ooops! Too late. That is simply not acceptable.
The most appropriate penalty for murder is a life sentence without parole.
Per this article "The state has no execution chamber, and the Department of Corrections has drafted plans to spend $1.8 million to build one."
What a ridiculous plan! Just exactly how many corrections officers would have to be layed off to make up for this $1.8 million dollars! What a waste if the taxpayers' money.
- Pat Kraft, Concord
How would some one find out where and when these hearings take place? Esecially if you are Mike's wife? Because I just might have an opion about the death penalty. I guess they don't tell me when and where because my opinion doesnsn't matter??
- Laura, Concord
"N.H. moves to block Massachusetts tax"
By Erin Ailworth, Boston Globe Staff, April 9, 2009
New Hampshire legislators are trying to make it more difficult for neighboring states to collect taxes from residents who cross the border to make tax-free purchases in the Granite State.
The New Hampshire Senate yesterday unanimously passed a bill, SB 5, that would prohibit retailers from disclosing private customer information to other states for the purpose of collecting certain taxes for those states. New Hampshire, which doesn't have a general sales tax, attracts out-of-town shoppers who don't want to pay taxes.
"It's not something that's really the vendor's job, to find out where someone is going to use something they buy," said New Hampshire Senator Peter Bragdon, who added that the bill is meant to protect the local retail trade, which he called a "critical part" of the state's economy.
The bill follows a move by Massachusetts officials to try to force a New England tire chain to charge Bay State residents a 5 percent tax on items purchased in New Hampshire. In 2003, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue audited several Town Fair Tire stores in New Hampshire after hearing that Massachusetts residents were driving up to buy tires from the Connecticut-based chain, which also operates stores in the Bay State.
Using invoices that contained addresses and some phone numbers, Massachusetts officials identified 313 sales made to Bay State residents. The state argues that the tire chain should have charged those customers a 5 percent "use tax" because the tires were likely to be used or stored in Massachusetts, not New Hampshire.
Town Fair Tire is fighting back, and its case is expected to be heard by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court this spring. David Nagle, a lawyer at Sullivan & Worcester LLP in Boston, which is representing Town Fair Tire, said he hopes for a decision by the end of the summer.
Neither Nagle nor state officials would comment on the New Hampshire bill.
The bill establishes certain conditions for other states to meet before New Hampshire retailers would have to hand over information about shoppers or collect taxes, such as "carefully developed information and documentation that demonstrates conclusively that a business knew, based on information provided by a customer, that such customer has stored, consumed, or used a purchased item" within another state. The bill is expected to make its way through the state House in the next several weeks and if passed there, will then go to the New Hampshire governor's office.
Erin Ailworth can be reached at email@example.com
"Ayotte in running for Senate seat?"
By KATHRYN MARCHOCKI, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, June 18, 2009
New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte yesterday remained mum on a report that she is considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Judd Gregg in 2010.
"I am currently focused on the Attorney General Office's budget and the issues that are pending with the Legislature," Ayotte said.
In MSNBC.com's "First Read" column, Chuck Todd reported some Republicans are trying to recruit Ayotte as a candidate, saying she is a fresh face who has never run for office before and has strong bipartisan credentials.
"She's never run for office before but her profile might be about as good as the GOP can do in New England," Todd wrote. "Short of Gregg, Ayotte might be the best candidate the GOP can find as she doesn't come from the current elective wing of the GOP who all seem to have the smell of defeat on them."
Other Republicans rumored to be interested in the Senate seat include former Sen. John E. Sununu, former Congressman Charlie Bass, and Manchester lawyer Ovide Lamontagne, who ran for governor and Congress in the 1990s.
John H. Sununu, chairman of the state Republican Party, said he's heard nothing official about Ayotte, but welcomed the thought of her running.
Two or three good people are considering a run, he said.
He said Ayotte has experience and visibility, and she is articulate and smart. The last attorney general to run for the U.S. Senate, Republican Warren Rudman, was successful.
"It's not a bad place to run for the Senate from," Sununu said.
Two-term Second District Congressman Paul Hodes is seeking the Democratic nomination for the open Senate seat.
An April poll by the UNH Survey Center found Hodes losing to both Gregg and Sununu in head-to-head match-ups.
Ayotte, 40, became the state's first female attorney general in 2004 when then-Gov. Craig Benson, a Republican, nominated her to fill the remainder of Peter Heed's term. Democratic Gov. John Lynch nominated Ayotte to her first four-year term in 2005. In April, the governor nominated her to a second full term and the Executive Council unanimously confirmed it. Her current terms expires 2013.
Asked if others are focusing on her as a candidate even though her attention currently is directed elsewhere, Ayotte said: "I am appreciative that people are mentioning my name. However, I am focused on our budget."
Ayotte is married to Joseph Daley, a self-employed landscaper and National Guard combat pilot. They have two children: a 4-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son.
New Hampshire Union Leader reporter Mark Hayward contributed to this article.
No surprise. The most "political" AG in a long time who frequently graces the halls of the State House and LOB to politic. If Lynch doesn't run again, she could run for that office and probably win. As for Senate: it's over her head. She'd be as effective as Jean Shaheen. I love her though. She has a highly competent staff, so she can only look competent. But that's about it. Sorry for the reality check.
- George B., Manchester
Kelly Ayotte would be an excellent candidate and I would be happy to consider her. I see she upsets the extremist, anti-police, anti-law, Libertarian-anarchist whack jobs who are hiding out in the Republican Party, and that's just motivating me to support her even more! She stands up for victims and she has NOT violated anyone's rights.
I'm not thrilled with a "Sununu dynasty" scenario next year if the younger Sununu ran for senate, especially with the senior Sununu running the state party. He would have to resign to avoid the obvious and understandable favoritism that would occur.
- Stephen, Manchester
Hopefully the Lobster Man will run so I have someone to vote for. I don't wear a badge, so Kelly Ayotte will do nothing to look out for my interests.
- Kate, Manchester
Good luck to her. 72% of NH citizen's favor expanded gaming over other revenue sources. She has stood tall AGAINST expanded gaming, or in other words against the wishes of nearly 3/4 of the citizens of NH. Good luck Kelly but this Republican won't be supporting you.
- MikeG, Merrimack
I think it would be a good move. Democrats would have to be careful. The UL should reach out to Ray Buckley for his reaction. I'd be interested in hearing his opinion on this one. Would be tough to bash a Lynch appointee. Let's put Buckley's creativity to the test by asking him to comment.
- Cathy, Concord
Ms. Ayotte is a competent Republican. I don't care if her voice quivers.
However, my money is still that Judd Gregg will flip-flop again and un-retire. He is not actking like a man contemplating a career move away from the Lifetime Trough, but still, frantically pandering and triangulating.
- Spike, Brentwood NH
"I do know Kelly Ayotte and she is completely dedicated to the people she serves. Maybe you shouldn't make comments about things you clearly know nothing about!"
Well, let me comment, then, because I know Kelly Ayotte, too. I'm going to have to disagree with you and say that Jim was right when he said all she cares about is her career.
- Ty, Exeter
oh boy... the woman is against the castle doctrine? well, the bleep with her. Is 25 years old too young to run on the principals of smaller GOVt, lower taxes, welfare given out on a case by case basis, and stop competing with MA to tax the hell out of our residents? if so, would you vote for me?
- mark milliken, Rochester
I agree with Jacl Truman from Middleton. Man, I hear her voice when she is on television and I cringe. No thanks.
- Christine, Pittsfield
If she wants to run, that's her right. She doesn't have an electoral base of her own, so she'll be heavily dependent on Papa Sununu to provide her with support, so if Johnny Sununu decides to run she'll be gone in a heartbeat. If she does declare that she's running, though, she had better resign as AG immediately so we can have an Attorney General who's dedicating their full time to doing their current job, not campaigning for a new one.
- Peter, Canterbury
Kelly Ayotte is the best Republican who could run for the Senate seat.
She's smart, approachable, and her level of integrity is impeccable. She is balanced and has been appointed by both Governors Craig Benson and Governor Lynch. That's really Independent, and really cool.
She's not part of the ultra-liberal Republican team that New Hampshire sent to DC during the Bush administration that doubled our national debt IN A GREAT ECONOMY!
That makes her not only viable, but credible to criticize Democrats if they don't keep their promise of Pay-Go once the budget crisis created by those ultra-liberal Republicans we sent to Washington during the Bush administration is under control.
Kelly Ayotte should run. And if Kelly Ayotte runs she should win.
- Bob Jean, Northwood, NH
I know Kelly Ayotte. I like her as a person. But I will never vote for her for political office. Her attempts at influencing the legislative process from the AG's office and her 'blue wall' mentality are unacceptable behaviors.
- JB, NB, NH
I believe Kelly is a great AG, and that her talents belong in that capacity. Does anyone sit back and look at the job requirements of a US Senator. Today, we all know the number one requirement is financial intelligence. It's imperative that we send some expertise to Washington. Clearly there is none there or it is the minority. Kelly, while great in her current capacity, lacks experience in all the other critical areas. Sorry Kelly, but you would be completely over your head in too many critical discussions.
- Nick, Manchester, NH
New face, old face, it will not matter who we/you send to DC.
Until the power elite are investigated by a non-politicised DOJ, arrested and imprisoned for corruption, blackmail, and bribery, everything will remain the same or worse.
- Michael, Manchester
Jim from Manchester, what you describe is every single democrat in office today!!! Out for themselves while they claim to be working for their constituents (see the House of Reps, Senate, MA policiticians, et al). What a load of garbage. Practice what you preach before you make such blanket statements. Did you forget that the AG prosecutes criminals, and serves the victims by pushing for "justice" or are you a conspiracy theorist that thinks "the man" (In this case "the woman") is out to get me?
- Bob, Hampstead
At this point dirt would be better than Paul Hodes or any other liberal...
Ayotte would be a strong candidate! Rock on Kelly - may the strongest republican win!
- Marc, Weare
Umm - excuse me, Jim?? You make the comment, "You should not make comments about things which you clearly know nothing about. I pray to God she is not elected because all she cares about is herself and her career" - Do you know Kelly Ayotte?? Where is your expertise on this topic coming from? I do know Kelly Ayotte and she is completely dedicated to the people she serves. Maybe you shouldn't make comments about things you clearly know nothing about!
- Michelle, Bedford
Thats fine if she runs, I will not vote for her though...
- Ted, Manchester
No, she has already destroyed herself by showing that she will always side with the police and does not listen to the people who count the most in this state, the citizens, your comment is both illogical and lacking any merit. You should not make comments about things which you clearly know nothing about. I pray to God she is not elected because all she cares about is herself and her career, not the people she should be listening to and serving. If you're comment about the media and intelligent woman has anything to do with Sarah Palen then sir I am sorry but you are not intelligent and should do some homework before you make another blanket statement.
- Jim, Manchester
Jeff, I think you meant to say, an intelligent, successful, republican/conservative woman....Liberal women get a pass, remember?
- Bob, Hampstead
I'd vote for her, or for any representative of the (ever dwindling) responsible, rational wing of the Party.
- Bruce, New London
I think that she would make a great representative. However, that being said, I think that it would be a tremendous loss to the AG's Office.
- Melanie, Manchester, NH
Ayotte would be great. I am sure she would be great at anything she puts her mind to.
MSNBC's Chuck Todd apparently mentioned Ayotte's "bipartisan credentials." Other than Gov. Lynch keeping the Ayotte feather in his cap when he could have sacked her, I have not seen very many examples of Democrats being "bipartisan." Most often, it's the good little team-playing Republican fence sitters ( like Steve Merrill and Judd Gregg Version 2.0 ) who are oh so friendly and "bipartisan" when they should not be so. The LibDems take "the NH Advantage" of such Republicans every time while they gnaw away at the soul of New Hampshire and America.
"Bipartisanship" is a LibDem word for "what's mine is mine and what's yours is negotiable." We've had our fill of such old style smoke filled room Republicans, and we won't be fooled by such "buzz" again (Jay). Give us fresh, motivated, focused, non-compromising, backboned Republicans like Kelly Ayotte in whatever slot they aim for.
- Ed Holdgate, Live Free or Die Sandown, NH
- tracy, manchester
Ms. Ayotte is a nice women. I heard her speak once before and if I remember correctly one of her biggest downfall is her crackling voice of dispair. AG fits her well but in statewide campaign she will expose her biggest weakness: speech -- she can't talk. Ironic as it may seem...........
- Jacl Truman, Middleton
An intelligent, sucessful femal wants to run for high office. The media is going to do everything it can to destroy her!
- Jeff, Manchester
Sununu "heard nothing" and all Ayotte will say is that she is focused on the AG's office.
Do they think people are stupid?
They planned diligently to get this trial balloon released and then they act surprised.
- Bill Howard, Exeter
I could only hope that Gregg reconsiders or Sununu decides to go for the seat. Sununu was hailed as an up and coming Senator w/a vision for the future of the USA when "Change" swept him and others out of office. I have a few problems w/Ayotte 1st she is against the Castle Doctrine (the right to protect yourself from home invaders) & the fact that she protected law breaking Police from prosectution (Drug Task Force brawl in Portsmouth). Call me crazy but just those 2 positions alone I don't think would get much traction w/conservatives or shall we call ourselves fiscal resopnsible voters? The Dems will start throwing every wacko group connectiion at anyone who says they are conservative.
- Michael King, Epping
As big of a joke as Caroline Kennedy becoming a senator!
- Mike, Bedford
The first thing one must take with a grain of salt is that Sununu Sr. had no idea about this. Sununu Sr. is in firm control of the NHGOP. The second thing you need to know is that until Sununu Jr. makes up his mind about 2010 no one esle can really make a move. If he wants to run everyone will step aside......and that means Ayotte too. What this article leaves out is that former NH governor Steve Merrill is also interested in running for the U.S. senate seat.....or at least he was. The buzz in the NHGOP is that Steve Merrill is now looking at running for governor of NH again in 2010. The Merrill story is the real story here.....the Ayotte thing is more of just getting her name out there to look at the reaction it gets from the public.
- Jay Collins, Laconia
"NH AG Kelly Ayotte resigns to explore Senate race"
By David Tirrell-Wysocki, Associated Press Writer, July 7, 2009
CONCORD, N.H. --New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, who has enjoyed support from Republican and Democratic governors, says she will leave office next week to explore a campaign for U.S. Senate.
When she resigns July 17, she will join a growing field of potential candidates in next year's GOP primary to replace Republican Sen. Judd Gregg, who is not seeking re-election.
"Recently, many New Hampshire citizens have urged me to run for United States Senate," she said. "I appreciate their confidence in me."
Originally appointed by a Republican, Ayotte, the state's first female attorney general, was reappointed twice by Democratic Gov. John Lynch to four-year terms. She told Lynch in March that she intended to serve her full term, but said Tuesday that things have changed.
"At that point, I did intend to continue serving and since that time, in terms of the political landscape changing, I think many had hoped Senator Gregg would reconsider his decision and there was talk that Senator Sununu might run and Governor Merrill," she said.
Former Sen. John E. Sununu and former Gov. Steve Merrill, both Republicans, have since said they won't run.
Lynch did not mention Ayotte's promise to complete her term in a brief statement Tuesday. He said he would move quickly to appoint a replacement.
"I thank her for her service," he said.
State Democratic Chairman Ray Buckley was not as reserved, saying Ayotte turned her back on her responsibilities.
"We now know that she is deserting the people of New Hampshire in favor of personal ambition," Buckley said, comparing her to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who announced last week that she will resign this month.
"Not unlike Sarah Palin, Kelly Ayotte has broken her promise to the people she represents and put politics before public service," he said.
Ayotte, 41, dismissed the criticism.
"I would let my record of public service speak for itself," she said.
Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire polling center, said being a woman and the state's top prosecutor are pluses for Ayotte.
"If you're the attorney general, you're seen as arresting people and prosecuting people and getting people convicted in death penalty cases," Smith said. "That's good publicity."
He said being a woman might earn her 2 or 3 percentage points among women, who tend to vote for Democrats.
Smith said Ayotte's lack of campaign and fundraising experience is her one obvious liability.
"I'd say she's got to raise $5 million or more by this time next year, and that's a lot of money," he said.
Ayotte became a state prosecutor in 1998 and head of the criminal bureau in 2000. She earned renown for negotiating guilty pleas with a pair of teens who killed two Dartmouth College professors.
Last year she supervised and helped prosecute the capital murder case against Michael Addison, who was sentenced to die for killing Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs in 2006. It was the state's first death sentence in half a century.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes is seeking his party's nomination.
Other potential Republican candidates include former gubernatorial nominee Ovide Lamontagne, GOP National Committeeman Sean Mahoney, businessmen Fred Tausch and Rich Ashooh, and former U.S. Rep. Charles Bass.
"Buckley vs. Ayotte: Sliming a public servant"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, July 10, 2009
Two years ago, Ray Buckley decided to run for state Democratic Party chairman. To stop him, his former housemate, Republican Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, publicly accused Buckley of having possessed child pornography in the 1980s. The complaint was forwarded to the state attorney general: Kelly Ayotte.
Ayotte, a Republican, investigated Vaillancourt's charges and determined that they were meritless. Buckley re-entered the race for chairman and won it easily. Afterward, he told The Boston Globe that he was a changed man and would thenceforth not only stop his own negative political attacks, but also campaign to end them entirely. "After what I have gone through, I have changed, and (ending negative attacks) is my issue," he told the Globe.
On Tuesday, Ayotte, the woman who cleared Buckley's name, announced that she was resigning as attorney general effective next Friday to run for the U.S. Senate. Buckley's response?
He issued an immediate statement alleging that Ayotte has "turned her back on her responsibilities. We now know that she is deserting the people of New Hampshire in favor of personal ambition."
Never mind for the moment that if it's wrong for a public servant to change her mind when a political opportunity comes along, then Democratic Gov. John Lynch is every bit the deserter Buckley alleges Ayotte to be. In 2003, Lynch told then-Gov. Craig Benson that he would not run for governor if reappointed as chairman of the University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees. Benson reappointed him, then Lynch resigned and unseated Benson as governor the next year.
Buckley's partisan blinders are to be expected. What's so repulsive about his decision to personally attack Kelly Ayotte (not once but in three separate press releases in three days) is that he knows firsthand how fair and non-partisan a public servant she has been. When someone attempted to end Buckley's political career with slimy personal attacks, Ayotte stepped in and cleared his name. And how does he repay her? He attempts to ruin her good name with slimy political attacks.
Had Buckley criticized Ayotte's record or political views, that would have been entirely fair. He would simply have been doing his job. But what he is doing goes beyond partisan politics. It is sleazy and contemptible. And it says more about the sneering little man than it does about the public servant who once saved his career and now finds herself on the receiving end of his malevolent scorn simply because she is registered to vote as a Republican and not a Democrat.
Ms. Ayotte has ethics, integrity, and the courage of her convictions. Unlike Ray Buckley , John Lynch and Jeanne Shaheen. She is a superb choice for U.S. Senate. Far better than Jeanne and Billy's stooge Paul Hodes. Surprised Ray would want Hodes ...the only democrat who abandoned him in his hour of need.
- paul needham, derry nh
Does the Union Leader really think that falsely accusing someone of a despicable crime (child pornography) is the same as criticizing someone for resigning from an appointed position they agreed to serve out?
Union Leader editorials often stretch to the outer limits of logic but I'm totally at a loss for words over this one.
- Dan, Manchester
Regardless of whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, when you get to know the real Kelly Ayotte, you will find what all of her colleagues in the legal profession already know: aside from being a brilliant attorney, she is a person of the highest quality, she is kind, she is caring, and she is completely and totally honorable. We in New Hampshire would be lucky to have her as our next U.S. Senator.
- David H. Mirsky, Exeter
Will Ray Buckley please go away.
- TA, Manchester
Just for the record, Ray Buckley never accused Ayotte of breaking any law. It is perfectly legal for the Attorney General to resign her job for any reason. But not everything which is legal is unpbjectionable.
By Ayotte's OWN admission, she is quitting her job just a few weeks into her new term to run for the Senate. She came right out and said it explicitly! If the Union Leader's editorial board finds that action objectionable, they should take up the issue with Ayotte herself.
- Timothy Horrigan, Durham, NH
Come on now. How can the Union Leader equate what was said about Buckley and what he said about Ayotte? They are in no way similar. He has not defamed her personally. And the difference between Governor Lynch's prior post and that of the Attorney General also can not be equate. You're stretching beyond even your criteria!
Dorothy Solomon, Albany
- Dorothy Solomon, Albany
And meanwhile, the Progressives in Concord and in Washington watch the peasants fighting among themselves about their party affiliation. And they continue to rob all of us of our money, liberty and ability to control our government.
Wake up folks, both parties are fighting for the same thing, control over every aspect of our lives and they are keeping all of us distracted with these petty squabbles.
At least the UL has been consistent in their fight to protect freedom.
- Melvin, Keene
Leave it to Democrats and Republicans to point fingers at each other for the same thing. Talk about blinders blinding.
- DM, Hampton
Always a sign of a sinking ship when a party chair posts an online response to a editorial... I vaguely remember another chair who used to post responses on this same forum. I don't think he's still in the same job right now. Never put anything in print, when you can speak it, never speak it when you can nod.... Sadly Ray has lost it.
- Andy, Milford
Ray Buckley, you are going to have to do better than the deceitful comments you made on your post here. Shame on you. But we know that you do not truly care.
- Nick, Manchester
There are two democratic parties in NH.
The new one run by the outlying fringe liberals and the old democratic party of which I am a member. When I host an event the members that think they are in charge of the NH Democratic Party do not get an invitation.
- Jack Alex, Manchester
But that is because Buckley is the sleazy politician that he accuses others of being. And when the Democratic party is handed tremendous defeat next year, it will be Buckley's actions as Chair that will help seal that Party's fate. At least we have that to be thankful to Buckley for! Great op-ed piece Union Leader!
- Thomas Thorpe, Portsmouth, NH
Considering the number of democrats who abandoned thier elected office to serve under the Obama administration there is a lot of gall involved when they critize someone else who steps down from an unelected office to run for an elected office. Clearly Buckley is a typical political operative for the democratic left, putting party before everything else. The GOP isn't the party for saints to be sure but when ever I hear the democrats complain about something I can be fairly certain that it is they who have already done whatever it is they are complaining about.
- jeff, goffstown
Right on point UL. What if anything has Buckley done to give him the status and prestige he enjoys in the state? I know of no formidable piece of legislation he crafted to make life better for the citizen's of NH. I have seen nothing but negative statements from his mouth.
Apparently the Dems are so weak in this state they have to elect Buckley to lead them. So when a strong Republican candidate full of work ethic and moral character challenges the power of the Dems they attack... What else can they do. Paul Hodes is no comparison to Kelly Ayotte. And Buckley.. he is a discredit to the democratic party.
- Frank, Manchester
UNION LEADER- YOU ARE A DISGRACE!There is a world of difference between what Mr. Buckley recently said regarding Ms. Ayotte's reneging on her commitment to the Governor and her constituents regarding political opportunism and personal ambition and what Mr. Buckley was put through. AND YOU KNOW IT! Further,this rag of a newspaper has just put itself in the same category as those it claims were wrong in their slimy attacks on Mr. Buckley by reopening and comparing the two situations with references in this editorial and links to the past accusations(unfounded I might add)regarding him. While you feign innocence and neutrality , you lob emotional bombshells into the discussion all over again in your own slippery way. You know better and therefore if there is any slime in this equation it is from the Union Leader. SHAME ON YOU!!
- al, alton
This might be the editorial to make me officially cancel my subscription to the UL. The hypocrisy and double standards in your pages DO NOT service public's interest.
So, Kelly Ayotte did her job and she's supposed to be praised? Justice is justice. If she hadn't executed this case fully she'd be without a job right now. That's like praising the mailman for delivery your letters on time--it's why we, the taxpayers, pay him. It's absolutely despicable that you would bring up these horrible charges which were baseless in a effort to make Ayotte look like a hero.
You can keep your rabid rhetoric, I'm calling today to cancel my subscription.
- Liz, Bedford, NH
You seem surprised about this. I'm not. It doesn't take a keen sense of the obvious to see that Democrat tactics do not entail debating the issue or the position. They instead attack and seek to destroy the person instead.
What will surprise me regarding this situation is no protest from the Police Union that represents the Manchester Police Department. AG Ayotte worked tirelessly to convict Addison. Hopefully the Men & Women of the Mancester PD tell Buckley to be more respectful when issuing statements about Ayotte.
- Gene Bois, Hooksett
Bravo UL ! Buckley is a disguting excuse for a human being. His filth-mongering politics, along with Kathy Sullivan's rants have gone a long way in degrading public debate in NH. 2010 can't come fast enough for me.....and I suspect for most of the sane residents of NH. The worst republican administrations were 10 times better than the last several years of democratic rule.
- Jay Collins, Laconia
Seriously? I know you guys are working overtime to prop up the failing NH Republican Party but you are going to have to do better than this editorial.
Nothing I have said this week about Kelly Ayotte's reneging on her four month old pledge to Governor Lynch to serve our her entire four year term as NH's Attorney General has been in anyway personal. Believe me I know the difference. And the words of my disappointment with Ayotte's decision pale in compared to the far too often Union Leader editorial...talk about sleazy and contemptable.
It is absurd to even try to compare the full year later decision of John Lynch to resign from the volunteer post as a UNH trustee to the 16 weeks later decision of Ayottee to abandon her position as the full time paid NH Attorney General with a desk full of important cases pending. Its not even in the same ballpark.
But I get it, you need to create phony indignations to create cover for Ayotte's going back on her word...and please understand that I am talking about her her professional word, not her personal word. Not that you truly care...
- Ray Buckley, Manchester
"Buckley cleared in porn case"
By KATHRYN MARCHOCKI, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, Friday, March 2, 2007
CONCORD – Investigators not only found no evidence state Democratic power broker Raymond Buckley possessed child pornography, but also seriously considered charging Manchester Republican Steve Vaillancourt with making a false report for lodging what proved to be a baseless complaint, the state attorney general said yesterday.
The eight-week criminal probe into the allegations raised by Vaillancourt -- a state representative who was Buckley's housemate for 16 years until 1999 -- revealed a "complete lack of evidence" that Buckley ever possessed child pornography, had it mailed to him, searched the Internet for it, or expressed a sexual interest in minors, Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte said.
"Simply put, Mr. Vaillancourt's allegations that Mr. Buckley was involved in the possession of child pornography are unsubstantiated and unfounded," she said.
Vaillancourt himself could not describe the magazine images he claimed Buckley possessed when pressed by an investigator, and none of what he could describe ever involved children engaged in sexual activity, she added.
"In fact, Mr. Vaillancourt admitted to police that he exaggerated," Ayotte said at an afternoon news conference attended by Vaillancourt, who videotaped the entire session while occasionally peppering Ayotte with questions.
Buckley and other Democratic officials were pleased -- but not surprised -- at the findings.
"It's good to have my life back," said Buckley, who denounced Vaillancourt's claims as politically motivated from the outset.
"It's been a very difficult eight weeks for my family and friends," Buckley added.
Buckley, the state Democratic Party vice chairman, was forced to drop out of the race for party chairmanship after Vaillancourt sent Gov. John Lynch a letter dated Dec. 26 claiming Buckley possessed significant amounts of child pornography, smuggled the materials into the country from Europe, used a Manchester Democratic City Committee computer to access child pornography and had a penchant for "pre-pubescent" minors.
Vaillancourt asserted he brought the matter to the governor's attention because of Lynch's tough stance on child pornography and online child predators and because Vaillancourt feared the state's first-in-the-nation Presidential primary would be threatened if Buckley's alleged behavior became public.
Lynch immediately referred the letter to Ayotte's office for investigation and withdrew his support for Buckley's front-runner candidacy for state party chairman while the matter was pending.
"We're pleased the attorney general found the allegations against Ray Buckley to be unsubstantiated," said the governor's spokesman, Colin Manning.
"This has been a very difficult time for Raymond, and these findings make it clear he has been the victim of politics of personal destruction of the worst kind. It has no place in New Hampshire and it must stop," he added.
State Democratic Party spokeswoman Kathleen J. Strand welcomed the attorney general's report.
"Today's announcement proved what we have known all along, that these allegations made by Rep. Vaillancourt were fraudulent, baseless and politically motivated. We are very happy for Raymond that he can move forward and we can put this behind us," Strand said.
Buckley's attorney, John Kacavas, thanked Manchester police and the Attorney General's Office for their "thorough, fair and professional investigation" into a "scurrilous allegation that devastated what was Mr. Buckley's life-long dream to become Democratic Party chairman."
"This transcends politics," Kacavas said. "To accuse someone of this kind of a crime is human savagery. ... It devastated him. It devastated his family and friends. And it devastated a life-long goal."
Kacavas said he has advised Buckley of his legal options to bring a defamation lawsuit against Vaillancourt.
"I'm meeting with my attorney, and we'll be looking at that some other day," Buckley said.
Ayotte released a six-page report detailing the findings of two Manchester police investigators working in consultation with a state prosecutor. It revealed police twice interviewed Vaillancourt during which he conceded never seeing Buckley smuggle child pornography into the country, instead saying Buckley "just told me about it."
During his interview with police, Buckley "categorically denied ever possessing child pornography, having any interest in child pornography or smuggling child pornography into the country," the report said.
Vaillancourt also withdrew his claim that he saw Buckley using a Manchester Democratic City Committee computer to search for child pornography, telling police he "assumed" that's what Buckley's was doing "since I knew his interest was children."
The computer the state Democratic Party turned over to police during the probe proved not to be the one that could have been used during the time Buckley lived with Vaillancourt, the report said. Police were unable to find the computer Vaillancourt described and it was likely it "was legitimately discarded long before this investigation was initiated."
Police said they interviewed 14 individuals in the case, including those Vaillancourt said would verify his claims. No witness could corroborate Vaillancourt's allegations, the report said. In addition, Ayotte said no one came forward with current allegations against Buckley despite the widespread publicity the case received.
Ayotte said authorities considered charging Vaillancourt with knowingly making a false report to law enforcement.
"We seriously considered bringing charges against Mr. Vaillancourt," she said. But since Vaillancourt's claims were presented in a letter to the governor, it would be difficult to prove he knew they would result in a criminal investigation.
"That would be a difficult hurdle for us to overcome under the statute," she said.
She could not estimate the cost of the probe, but Manchester police, whom Ayotte asked to conduct the investigation, assigned two investigators to the case.
"There was a lot of time put into that case," Manchester Police Chief John A. Jaskolka said.
Vaillancourt held a news conference of his own, during which he defended the veracity of his claims and called the police investigation a "cover-up."
"I stand by the investigation," Jaskolka said, noting his investigators' findings were reviewed and approved by a state prosecutor and Ayotte.
Democratic officials were confident the investigation would vindicate Buckley and do not believe Buckley's political standing has been tarnished, party spokeswoman Strand said.
But state Sen. Lou D'Allesandro said he is less certain of the effect it would have on Buckley's political career.
"In a situation like this, are people going to read the 'innocent.' The negatives got big headlines, but are people going to pay attention to the decision? I hope so," the Manchester Democrat said.
The filing deadline for state party positions closed Jan. 15. The elections will be held March 24.
Buckley is a former state representative who was a key figure in the Democratic takeover of the Legislature last November. The chairman of the Manchester Democratic party, he is courted by Presidential hopefuls and local politicians alike.
He serves as chair of the Eastern Region Caucus of the Democratic National Committee and sits on the DNC executive committee. He is a national at-large board member of the National Stonewall Democrats, a lobbying group of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered party activists.
Kathy Sullivan: "Out of the gate, two GOP candidates stumble"
The NH Union Leader, Op-Ed, July 14, 2009
New Hampshire's Republicans are feeling hopeful about their prospects in 2010. Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta announced his candidacy for Congress, appearing to give Republican Party Chairman John H. Sununu a credible candidate in the 1st District. Although Chairman Sununu's preferred candidate, former Sen. John E. Sununu, decided not to seek Judd Gregg's senate seat, Attorney General Kelly Ayotte announced her resignation to mull a run.
For the GOP, though, painful realities lurk beneath the surface, and the future is not as bright as Chairman Sununu would like the party faithful to believe.
Last week, The Washington Post described Mayor Frank Guinta's campaign as a "disappointment," an apt description. It is surprising that anyone even remembers that the mayor is in the race. There have been no rousing announcement rallies, no press releases issuing glowing reports on fundraising, no weekly lists of prominent endorsements. His few public outings have cemented his position in the far right wing of his party, a losing proposition in moderate New Hampshire.
What publicity he has received in the last two or three weeks has been unfavorable. It has focused on his presence at a private Manchester social club during an altercation. When running for Congress, having your name in the same story as the words "bar brawl" is a bad thing.
While none of the press accounts described Mayor Guinta as anything but a bystander, his mishandling of the situation made it a multiple-day story. The mayor failed to give a clear explanation about why he did not contact the police for six days to report an alleged assault on an alderman. It was a major stumble, especially in a state that has shown little kindness to mayors trying to advance outside of Manchester.
Mayor Guinta's display of what most kindly can be described as bad political judgment resulted in unnecessary rumors and a spate of news stories widely quoted on both Washington and New Hampshire political Web sites. It made his campaign look less than serious.
Just as the ripples from Mayor Guinta's missteps were quieting, the Ayotte campaign got off to a rocky start. Since Gov. John Lynch's spokesman had already told the press that the attorney general had indicated to the governor she would serve a full four-year term if reappointed, she should have been prepared with a good answer about why she was leaving just four months after his decision. Instead, she gave an awkward response, saying there had been unpredictable changes to the political landscape and climate since her reappointment four months earlier.
The climate change excuse made little sense in light of the actual timing of Judd Gregg's announcement, which occurred in February, several weeks before the attorney general's reappointment. At that time, both Roll Call and The Washington Post mentioned the possibility of an Ayotte candidacy. Not only had the political climate already changed by the time of her reappointment, there already was substantial speculation about her political future. There also were multiple signs that John E. Sununu was building a career outside politics, including accepting several appointments to corporate boards.
We can argue about whether anyone should be held to a commitment to serve a full term. But the question asked of the attorney general in March was not academic. It was made against the backdrop of considerable speculation about potential Kelly Ayotte candidacies, whether for the Senate or House in 2010 or for governor in 2012. Gov. Lynch expended a significant amount of political capital in reappointing her, upsetting many Democrats who preferred someone other than Craig Benson's former legal counsel. What could have been the beginning of a smooth Ayotte rollout instead handed Democrats the opportunity to question her sincerity. The shaky start left the door wide open for other potential candidates such as Ovide Lamontagne, Charlie Bass and Fred Tausch to continue their own explorations of possible runs.
It will not get any easier for the attorney general. She will have to answer even tougher questions on the issues and her resume. The first question, and one that will be of great interest to potential Lamontagne supporters, is her position on abortion.
There also will be questions about her role in the controversies that overwhelmed former Gov. Craig Benson's administration. Did she approve the use of "volunteers" such as Linda Pepin, who had to resign over payments she received relating to a state insurance contract? Was Gov. Benson following Kelly Ayotte's advice when he refused requests from the Concord Monitor for information about the qualifications of another volunteer, Angela Blaisdell, to serve as his liaison to the state's emergency management team?
Vague responses or answers that are not acceptable to the Republican Party's base may give Kelly Ayotte the same type of lesson Frank Guinta is receiving in the realities of what it means to run for major political office. Based on what we have seen so far, Democrats have more reason for optimism than the Republicans.
Kathy Sullivan, a Manchester attorney, was chairman of the state Democratic Party from 1999 to 2007.
I am a registered independent and every time Krazy Kathy opens her mouth I am nudged further away from her party and all of my fellow independents that I coffee with are tired of her negative snipping
- Bob, Georges Mills
the dems are really threatened by guinta and ayotte. here we are over a year form primary and they are attacking. election day 2010 will be a day of reckoning. I hope you had fun sullivan, the party is over.
- mike conway, manchester
Before you diss Rasmussen, you should be aware that polling done by news organizations is often done to drive a news story they are pushing. The samples are usually about 500 adults. That is a random call of 500 people, some of whom don't vote. Rasmussen samples 1000 registered voters on a daily basis. That means they have to call more people than that to meet that criteria.
Some of the networks that you mention are often joked about by late night comics including Obama himself of being madly in love with the President. Why should anyone here or anywhere else believe the polling that they put out.
Last years Presidential Election results were 52.7% Obama 46%. When you see approval numbers for Obama in the 60% range you have to assume those numbers came from people who voted for McCain and gave Obama a chance. Now that six months have passed and a 1 trillion dollar deficit later why would anyone assume Obama can keep those McCain voters in his approval column. The Honeymoon is over.
- Chris, Merrimack
I use the website pollingreport.com to look at public opinion polling from a range of polling organizations, and I'm not finding numbers for Obama anywhere near what Tom, Campton has cited.
Obama's job approval rating is about 58% favorable to 33% unfavorable accross all polling organizations. His handling of the economy averages about 50% favorable to 40% unfavorable. On other specific issues Obama averages about 55% in favor, 35% or so against.
I don't doubt that Rasmussen published the results cited by Tom, but when those results significantly conflict with the relative consistency of Gallup, CBS, Fox, ABC, NBC, The Wall Street Journal, and all the other organizations that do public opinion polling, they should be viewed as more of an outlier than as indicators of a trend.
- Dan, Manchester
If the UL will permit me, this information is freely available via the internet from Rasmussen:
Issue Dem Rep
Health Care 46% 42%
Economy 41% 46%
Education 41% 38%
Iraq 41% 45%
Nat'l Security40% 49%
Abortion 39% 46%
Soc Security 37% 42%
Taxes 36% 52%
Immigration 34% 40%
Gov't Ethics 33% 34%
Additionally, Obama's approval is at 53% with 46% disapproving, including 28% strongly approving and 36% strongly disapproving, only 39% give Obama positive marks for his handling of the economy, only 30% trust Obama to handle the economic crisis (in fact, his numbers are in the 30's and 40's across the board on specific issues), and a whopping 61% think the country is on the wrong track.
- Tom, Campton
Kathy Sullivan is one of my favorite political leaders. But her analysis is not up to her usual standards, and neither is her political skill.
It's the Democrats that had a bad week. Their handling of the Ayotte announcement created an issue Kelly Ayotte can use against their leading candidate, Paul Hodes. He remains in his job while campaigning. And the Dems are fussing about someone leaving an office while seeking a different job? It's pretty short sighted, dump politics.
But for Kathy to attack Governor Lynch and his judgment in appointing Kelly Ayotte in this article can't possibly help any of their candidates take advantage of Governor Lynch being on the ballot, Just why did Governor Lynch appoint her if the questions Kathy raises about Kelly Ayotte in this article are valid? That's a direct attack on Governor Lynch and his judgment, so much so we'll see if those questions aren't put away real fast. Does Kathy Sullivan really think that Governor Lynch would appoint someone as a top law enforcement officer with they type of cloud hanging over her that Kathy tries to imply? He's a much better Governor than that, and Kathy better think long and hard about that.
No, the Democrats had a bad week last week. And they are self-inflicting wounds and this article doesn't just make them larger, it applies salt.
- Bob Jean, Northwood, NH 03261
Commission the ex-chair of the Democratic Party to write a column on Republican candidates and prospects, and you will get a column of partisan sniping--as you surely would if the roles were reversed--not news, and not incisive opinion.
- Spike, Brentwood NH
Tom in Campton,
It's refreshing to know that at least one Republican in New Hampshire can still dream big. It's the one thing that has been sorely missing in the party.
If you believe people now trust the GOP more than the Dems you really are a dreamer. Keep it up and maybe someday there will be a Republican who actually represents the PEOPLE in our great country.
- Jerry Conner, Londonderry
I find it interesting that kathy thinks a "far right" candidate has no chance in New Hampshire. Perhaps Kathy thinks this really is a state over run with liberals who prefer welfare jobs and government paid volunteers to real jobs? Give the choice betwen a firing squad and voting for carol shea-porter, I will choose the firing squad. Our current democrats in office are loyal only to thir party, not the bst interest of the citizens of New Hampshire they are supposd to represent.
In 2010 I don't care what is next to your name (R,I,or D). I do care about my best interests as a citizen of New Hampshire being represented in Washington DC.
- Michael Layon, Derry
Ms. Sullivan, keep yapping away, because you are no help to your party. Your party has failed in all areas, which I realize was the "Change" voters were fooled into. Now we have a huge & impossible debt to pay, for what, minimal temporary jobs.
Now your party is trying to sell a second stimulus & health care reform which will soon break us. I am sure your party is leading us to "Change" to failure as a country.
So keep yapping away, because you are not helping your party at this point. You will see "Change" in 2010.....
- Dave, Manchester
Once again, I don't see coherent discussions or opinions by the other side of the aisle. I always welcome criticism to an article in hopes of understanding the bigger picture.
Ms. Sullivan's piece addresses some noticeable problems in the GOP. These problems have and will continue to surface, no matter the author. Like an unbiased broadcast, these incidents are undisputed facts.
David R. in Machester purports to critique the writing as if he has Strunk & White's "Elements of Style" opened - laboring over each word of Ms. Sullivan's piece. Unfortunately, it appears all he did was count the words and paragraphs and ignored the content.
Ron in Machester: "...Kathy Sullivan shows NH that you don't have to be especially bright to be a lawyer ..."? Do you think that statement helps your cause Ron? I didn't get a chance to read your published doctoral dissertation on the law profession. Could you send it my way?
I just hope for more educated and detailed responses from ones who refute a point. Otherwise, you only strengthen the authors stance, as is the case here.
- Quinn, Concord
Tom from Campton,
Could you please cite the polls that you are referring to? I think they must be polls among Fox News watchers and do not represent the way the other 99% of Americans feel.
Ok, I will give you the benefit of the doubt, it is likely Fox News watchers and Union Leader chronies!
- Robert, Dover, NH
I expected this type of release from Attorney Sullivan was she was still the Chair of the Democratic Party. She continues to be a strong voice for her party and her beliefs. I think most people would give her a pass, professionally, when she wrote op-eds like this one as party chair. Now that she is no longer the party chair, why would people who abhor partisan pickering and current level of political discourse in our state and country continue to do business (ie non-political)with her?
- David, Manchester
Yawn...Obama is crashing and burning and his approval is hovering just over 50%. He is about to lose the support of the American people, who now trust the GOP more than the Democrats on nearly every major issue.
Next year at this time Obama will be a massively unpopular, failed president as the American people continue to suffer the horrific effects of his asinine policies. The 2010 elections at all levels will be a referendum on Obama, and the GOP will make very large gains, despite the massive transfers of taxpayer money to Dem footsoldiers like ACORN and the UAW which was disguised as "stimulus".
Ms. Sullivan - your party is in power. If it wants to stay there, it had better produce some results.
- Tom, Campton
apparently you know better than Ms Ayotte does why she decided to leave her current position. Either you're full of BS or she is. Which of you is it?
- ed, laconia
On August 13, 2007 the headline in the UL read Manchester lawmaker convicted of DWI. It referred to the now ED of the Democrat party Mike Bruenelle. On March 17, 2007, now US Senate Candidate said the following about the since elected Democrat State Party Chairman Ray Buckley..."I have just reviewed a video on YouTube involving Ray Buckley, and found it highly disturbing. The proper authorities should look into the matter to determine the best course of action," Hodes said in a statement."Under the circumstances I cannot support Ray Buckley for New Hampshire Democratic Party chair." Two years later, knowing that the leaders of their own party have no moral authority to be diving into personal attacks, they once again drag out Kathy Sullivan to do their dirty work. The attacks on Frank Guinta and Kelly Ayottee are purely partisan; they have no merit and should be treated as such.
- Robert Belize, Manchester
Kathy, please, please, please stop making public comments trying to represent Democrats in this state. You are old-school, partisan BS. It's so old and tired and so are your comments. You're always so negative to the Republicans. Why do you waste your energy on them when you can be saying good things about the Democratic candidates? Seriously.
- Megan, Manchester
This is simply an attempt at trying to keep the Democrat story line advancing. The only people who give a hoot about the social club incident and Kelly Ayotte's leaving her post is the Democrat establishment who are not going to vote for either of them anyway. If we cared about people leaving their jobs to further political careers, we would not have a President Obama or Governor Lynch. As far as Mayor Guinta's social club incident, if we based our elections on what happens during a night of drinking in bars there would be no Kennedys in congress.
While I don't think Mayor Guinta is the best person for Congress, the bar is not set too high with the current occupant.
- Wayne Stanley, Manchester
Wah, wah, wah..... Everyday the whining of the republicans who comment and who cry about everything. Calling yourself the patriots and true Americans.
You make me laugh all the way to the polls where I can vote for exactly the people who drive all of you crazy.
- joco, manchester, nh
ENOUGH ALREADY! isn't the election in 2010? do we need a new marathon campaign? can you start by letting voters learn how these candidates performed in their jobs instead of how YOU personally feel about them? Please stop torturing me!
- jem, rye
Oh....Kathy said something?.........SNORE!
- Harry, Wolfeboro
Weak lame partisan spin from a MASTER...of weak lame partisan spin!! Kathy, don't ever change!
- Paul, Sunapee
More tripe from a party mouthpiece that is watching it all slip away......enjoy 2010 Sullivan because that's when this democratic circus comes to an end.
- Jay Collins, Laconia
After 12 paragraphs and 823 words, it still reads like a 10th grade term paper that failed to make the minimum word count. To be honest, it ran out of substance at just under 500 words.
Since the muzzling of Mr. Brunelle, it seems that the author has become Ray Buckley's new yapping attack Chihuahua.
- David R, Manchester
"Flowers -- not embarrassment -- for parting Ayotte"
examiner.com - By Paul Briand
Manchester Democrat Examiner, July 17, 2009
For a going-away gift New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch didn't put departing Attorney General Kelly Ayotte on the spot.
Instead, he gave her flowers.
And a University of New Hampshire sweatshirt, which was appropo for two reasons:
. Ayotte's last meeting with the governor and Executive Council was held at UNH's home in Durham;
. And Lynch, after all, is a 1974 graduate of UNH.
The congeniality was a marked contrast to the tart "I thank her for her service" comment from the Democratic governor on the news that Republican Ayotte would resign as AG in order to pursue the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate race in 2010.
There had been some blog-o-chatter that Lynch could potentially embarrass Ayotte if he ordered her to join Massachusetts in a federal lawsuit that is challenging the government's definition of gay marriage.
But Ayotte's resignation was accepted by the Executive Council and she departs without the drama of having to sign on to an issue that might upset the conservative Republicans (and maybe some right-leaning Democrats) who she'll need as she goes forward with her Senate campaign.
Which raises the question for Lynch? Did he give her a Get Out of Jail card as a third going-away present?
As a Democrat, he could have bolstered the Democratic efforts in the Senate race, now being carried forward by the lone Democratic candidate, Paul Hodes, currently representing the folks in the 2nd Congressional District.
It will be interesting going forward to see just how Lynch spends his political capital on behalf of his party cohorts in the 2010 election. His popularity may be down because of some wishy-washy leadership during the legislative session, but he's still very, very popular in the state.
Polls (and granted it's still real early) show a close race in a supposed race between Ayotte and Hodes.
A new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll shows Ayotte at 39 percent, Hodes at 38 percent and 21undecided, with 2 percent wanting someone else altogether.
A Granite State Poll from the UNH Survey Center from earlier this month had Ayotte at 39 percent, Hodes at 35 percent, 24 percent undecided and 2 percent wanting someone else.
"Kathy Sullivan: Questions for Ayotte, Lamontagne"
Op-Ed, The New Hampshire Union Leader, 8/11/2009
The 2010 election is more than a year away, but already there is a constant buzz about the race to replace Judd Gregg in the U.S. Senate. As a sitting congressman, Paul Hodes, the one Democrat in the race, has a voting record on a number of issues. He also has spoken publicly about where he stands on a variety of topics, ranging from the economy to health care reform to cutting federal deficits.
As for the Republican candidates, we know that Ovide Lamontagne is a member of the very socially conservative wing of the Republican Party. When he was chairman of the New Hampshire Board of Education, he refused to allow the state to accept federal Goals 2000 money. He would not intervene when a local public school considered teaching creationism, and he stated that the Bible could be used in a classroom to provide anecdotal evidence to support the theory. On many current issues, however, Mr. Lamontagne's positions are unknown.
Former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte's stands on pretty much everything could be described the same way Churchill characterized Soviet foreign policy: a puzzle inside a riddle wrapped in an enigma. News stories about her campaign have focused on process questions, such as former Gov. Craig Benson's alleged promise to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for his former legal counsel and whether possible interference by Washington will boomerang against her and help Mr. Lamontagne.
I hope Ayotte and Lamontagne will start talking soon, in detail, about what issues matter to them, and what it is that is prompting them to run. People should want to serve in the U.S. Senate because they can make a difference on substantive policy issues, not because it seems like a nifty career move.
As a guide, and because I am as curious as anyone about where both Lamontagne and Ayotte stand on the issues, here is a list of 20 questions that will help tell us more about them. Their answers to these questions will tell us a lot about their political philosophies. Most only require simple yes or no answers, so that both the candidates can run through them quickly.
1. Do you believe American troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan?
2. Should the United States recognize Cuba?
3. Should Roe v. Wade be overturned?
4. Name two federal agencies, departments or programs you would eliminate.
5. Do you believe global warming is a serious problem, or do you, like state Republican Party Chairman John H. Sununu, believe it is based on junk science?
6. Would you have voted to end the F-22 fighter program?
7. Would you have voted with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to oppose the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act?
8. Would you vote to end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military?
9. Would you have voted to confirm Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court? (Lamontagne already has said he would not have voted for her.)
10. Did George H.W. Bush make a mistake when he appointed David Souter to the Supreme Court?
11. Should the federal government continue to engage in stimulus spending in an effort to lower unemployment?
12. If elected, what is the first bill you would want to introduce?
13. Do you believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States?
14. Do you believe that background checks should be required before gun purchases?
15. Should U.S. senators be subject to term limits?
16. Do you support private school vouchers?
17. Would you vote to amend the Defense of Marriage Act to permit same-sex married couples to have the same federal tax treatment as other married couples?
18. Do you support federal legislation that gives states the option to adopt medical marijuana programs?
19. Do you agree with state Sen. Peter Bragdon and Republican Party Chairman John Sununu that the proposed use of the surplus from the JUA to help balance New Hampshire's budget was an attempted theft?
20. Did you vote for John Lynch or Joe Kenney in the 2008 gubernatorial election?
Questions 19 and 20 are not federal issues, but they are fair questions that are pertinent to the candidates' political philosophies. Over the next few weeks, voters, whether Republican, Democratic or independent, should start coming up with their own lists of questions to ask all the candidates in both parties. It is the only way we all can develop a sense of who these people are and why they want to be our next senator.
Kathy Sullivan, a Manchester attorney, was chairman of the state Democratic Party from 1999 to 2007.
Here's how I hope Ms Ayotte answers Comrade Sullivan's inquisition:
1. After we have won.
3. Depends on the case and the facts.
4. Dept of Energy, and Dept of Education.
5. NO it is definitely junk science designed to cripple the US economy.
11. As long as the stimulus is to produce long term jobs by lowering costs and taxes on companies that create jobs, not the government.
12. I would introduce a bill to close the borders and send every single illegal alien home, wherever that is.
14. They already are.
15. Definitely yes and I will agree to abide by it.
20. It's none of your business.
Return control of the US government and the state governments to the people, not lobbyists and special interest groups!
- Melvin, Keene
Thank you UL for reminding me why I am a republican.
- joekelly, manchester
Another question to add to her list:
"Do you believe Congress should exempt itself from most laws it legislates for the rest of us?"
- Guy Plante, Manchester
Ms. Sullivan - are you still at it? It is YOUR party that will have to answer to the voters in 2010 for their catastrophic performance. Good luck with that!
- Tom, Campton
What amazes me is that anyone actually thinks there is a difference between dems and repubs. The minority party always blames the majority party for screw-ups, and the public follows along, having voted to elect the majority of the moment in the first place.
Watching politics is like watching a bad tennis match, the blame is knocked back and forth, ad nauseum, until someone actually wins (at least they think).
Democrats spend too much, Republicans spend too much, and all of them do their level best to win re-election and keep or gain majorities.
If the electorate TRULY cared about the problems facing this country, we would have a myriad political parties represented in COngress and State Legislatures nation wide.
Stop whining and run for office yourself if you're that ticked off!
- Corey, Sandown
Actually, all they need to do to get elected is say: I am against Barack Obhama and I am against Socialism...it will get my vote...kinda'like that George Bush hate fest you folks employed.
I am glad to see you actively invovled again...your party must be scared!
- jay tiffany, warner nh
I don't understand why the UL continues to print Sullivan's rants.
Heck she couldn't get her Dems in office to answer these questions. In fact Hodes is too busy to read the bills and they all support a bill that isn't even written. They are paid 150+ Grand to act like royalty.
Sulilvan's rants are a waste of ink and a waste of my time.
- Annie, Henniker
Democrats have been ruining New Hampshire since they took control of the state legislature in 2006. They are the ones who should be answering questions and they are the ones with all the explaining to do! We must not allow them to turn this great state into Massachusetts-north! The tide is changing and voters will take back New Hampshire in November 2010! Vote every Democrat out of office!
- Bill, Brookline, NH
I have two questions for Paul Hodes:
1. Has your former law partner (Bill Shaheen) ever contacted you regarding arranging stiumulus funding for clients of your former law firm?
2. Am I un-American for asking?
- Ron, Manchester
Ms. Sullivans article is just an act of desperation. She knows the Democrat party leadership has gone too far. Most Democrats don't agree with them. Ms. Sullivan is desperately trying to stop the firestorm that is coming in the mid-term elections next year.
Ms. Sullivan you forgot the most important question anyone constituent can possibly ask, "Will you introduce an amendment to create term limits in Congress?"
- Don Diamant, Milton, NH
This is a fascinating assortment of questions.
- Miner, Concord
Well, Ayotte will never get a vote from me, she quit the state to run for senate, so being a cop, and wanting to climb the political ladder, not wanting to help her state nor the citizens in it. She urged Gov. Lynch to treat sick poeple as criminals and endangerd countless by keeping them in the black market.
- Patric, berlin
Ms. Sullivan: Why don't you ask Senator Shaheen why she marches "in lockstep" with the democrats (remember her campaign commercials)? She continues to spend taxpayer money with each and every vote.
- Tony, Londonderry
Is she serious with asking if they believe that the President was born in the US?? I am pretty sure we have kids dying in Iraq and Afganistan... I think I'd like to have our next senator concentrate their efforts on fixing that, and not part of the partisan politics of personal destruction...
- James, Manchester NH
Based on her 20 questions we know that Kathy Sullivan is a member of the very socialist liberal wing of the Democrat Party, and the Democrats only have that one wing now-a-days so their ship only flies Left.
ps. Where is Tom LaBrie's KoolAid ad hominem today?
- Ed Holdgate, Sandown, NH
Kathy, when Shaheen, Hodes and Shea-Porter can actually answer questions put to them by their constituents with some honesty then maybe the GOP hopefuls will work on your list of questions.
- William Smith, Manchester, NH
Here are a couple for the current Democrats representing us in DC:
1) Would you hold a town hall meeting and face your constituents to explain your support for the current health care bill (HR3200)?
2) Why have you voted to spend trillions of dollars on government programs without even taking the time to read what it was you were voting on?
3) Will you denounce the violence perpetrated by 4 members of the SEIU against a person who was exercising his constitutional right to petition the government by selling flags on a sidewalk?
4) Do you believe the white house should be compiling an "enemies list" of those opposed to the current health care bill (HR3200)?
5) Do you believe that people protesting the current health care bill are Unamerican as your party leadership, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer stated in their USA Today op-ed yesterday?
- Wayne S, Manchester
I believe that since Ms. Sullivan is from New Hamsphire that this would make her qualified to be a New Hampshire voter and as you stated as a voter she matters and can ask the candidates a question.
Your second point was that Kelly Ayotte is ahead in the polls because the voters know where Hodes is on the issues and think he is wrong and therefore prefer Ayotte.
I ask you this. Do you really think New Hampshire Republicans are so small minded and simple that they will vote for someone just because they label themselves as a Republican? You are saying that New Hampshire Republicans vote for a label and not the person? Please don't disrespect the rest of the state's Republicans. They are not all like you.
- Scott Mullen, Dorchester
Gee Ms. Sullivan, who do you think you are (Democrat party chair?) to be demanding answers on where the GOP potential Senate candidates are on issues.....10 months before the sign up period--they are not even officially candidates yet for goodness sake! As they travel the state they will answer those questions to the people who matter--NH voters.
However, I think we can answer what is "prompting them to run" ---- because they agree with the majority of the citizens of our state that the Congress is going in the WRONG direction. Why is it that challenger Kelly Ayotte---someone you say that we don't even know where she is on issues---is even with or ahead of Hodes in recent polls? Could be because the people KNOW where Hodes is on the issues....and they don't like it.
- Fran Wendelboe, New Hampton
Former state attorney general Kelly Ayotte mingles with voters during a Winnipesaukee Republican social in Wolfeboro last night. The potential U.S. Senate candidate made a 15-minute statement of political views that largely touched on local and national security. (SCOTT McINTYRE / Concord Monitor staff)
Wolfeboro, New Hampshire
"Ayotte stresses security: Law-and-order image takes shape"
By SHIRA SCHOENBERG, Concord Monitor staff, August 12, 2009
In her first public speaking appearance as a potential U.S. Senate candidate, former state attorney general Kelly Ayotte presented herself as a law-and-order Republican.
"We need to do everything we can to keep our streets, our community and our nation safe, and that's going to be a top priority for me," Ayotte said.
The first policy statement she made in her 15-minute address at a Winnipesaukee Republican social in Wolfeboro last night affirmed the right to gun ownership. "One of the important ways we're going to keep our nation safe is by vigilantly protecting the individual right to bear arms so that we can protect ourselves," Ayotte said.
Ayotte cited her record as attorney general and talked about prosecuting Michael Addison, the killer of Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs.
"I came to appreciate in a very personal way the sacrifice our law enforcement, and I would add military officers, make every day for us, to keep the streets safe," Ayotte said. That is why, she said, she asked for the death penalty for Addison - "the strongest penalty available under law."
Ayotte, who is still deciding whether to run for Senate, described herself as part of a middle-class family. She is a mother of two young children and the wife of a man who serves in the National Guard, who fought in the Iraq war, and who founded a small landscaping and snowplowing business.
Many were looking to last night's speech as an indication of where Ayotte stands on a variety of issues. She has spent the past five years serving as state attorney general - a nonpartisan position to which she was appointed by both a Republican and a Democratic governor.
In interviews with the press, she gave some indications: When asked by the Monitor, Ayotte said she is pro-life. She later clarified that she would support abortion in limited cases, such as rape, incest or medical emergency. Ayotte said she is against same-sex marriage and believes marriage is between a man and a woman.
When a reporter asked how to improve public safety on a federal level, Ayotte talked about supporting members of the military when they returned from overseas, ensuring they have proper health care.
And when a reporter asked whether she would have voted to confirm Sonia Sotomayor, an Obama nominee recently sworn in as a Supreme Court justice, Ayotte responded that although there are areas where she disagrees with Sotomayor, the U.S. Senate must look at a person's qualifications. "I think I would have approved her," Ayotte said.
On fiscal policy, Ayotte said she supported small business and small government. "It's not government that creates jobs, it's small businesses," she said.
She criticized government's bailouts of the banks and the auto industry as well as the fiscal stimulus package. "They spent nearly $1 trillion of our money and said this is something that will stimulate our economy," Ayotte said. "You look at that bill, some of that spending doesn't even occur until 2019. You tell me how that's going to stimulate the economy right now."
Ayotte criticized Congressional Democrats for raising the country's deficit. "They are placing a debt on our children that we cannot afford," she said. "They are mortgaging our children's future."
Ayotte talked about sitting at a kitchen table with her husband, prioritizing where to spend money. Government, she said, should do the same: "We can't spend money we don't have."
The criticism angered state Democrats, who pointed out that Ayotte previously supported aspects of the economic stimulus bill. Ayotte, for example, worked with Gov. John Lynch to use federal stimulus money to open a cold case unit within the state police.
"Did her D.C. handlers tell her that she now has to be against the bill she previously endorsed?" said Victoria Bonney, communications director for the New Hampshire Democratic Party. "Is she just taking orders from Washington insiders who would rather play politics than ensure our country's economic recovery?"
Critics from both parties have recently criticized Ayotte for trying to curry favor in Washington, D.C., before her campaign is official.
On the day President Obama visited New Hampshire to advocate for health care reform, Ayotte also jumped into that debate. She said something must be done to stop the rising costs of health care and to reduce the number of uninsured Americans. But she criticized the Democrats' current plan as a way to raise taxes on small businesses and increase the deficit while paving the way for "government-run health care."
"Can you imagine going to a government bureaucrat and asking that person to make decisions about medical care for you or your children?" Ayotte said.
Before and after her talk, Ayotte spent more than an hour shaking hands with the 60 or so attendees and taking questions. When one questioner asked about energy use and oil, Ayotte advocated "responsible drilling" in reserves in the U.S. She expressed concerns about the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, in which several states have launched a cap-and-trade market for carbon allowances, as a regional solution that will not solve a global problem.
In answering a question about climate change, Ayotte said that global warming is a "real issue" and that scientific evidence has shown human activity could have contributed to higher temperatures. But at the same time, she warned against addressing climate change in a way that costs jobs, results in higher energy bills or puts the United States at a competitive disadvantage to countries such as China and India.
"Kelly Ayotte: Health care reforms that don't need back-room deals"
By KELLY AYOTTE, Op-Ed, The New Hampshire Union Leader, December 22, 2009
With health care costs growing at unsustainable rates, it is becoming increasingly difficult for small businesses to provide coverage for employees and more expensive for New Hampshire families to obtain affordable coverage. Congress needs to enact meaningful health care reforms that lower costs and improve quality.
Unfortunately, the $1.3 trillion, budget-busting bill passed by Rep. Paul Hodes and the House of Representative takes us in the wrong direction. Hodes' plan raises taxes on small businesses and makes it more difficult for them to provide health care for their employees; it cuts Medicare for seniors; and it paves the way for government rationing of health care.
The Senate Democrats drafted their 2,733-page bill in secret, cutting back-room deals and holding their vote at 1 a.m., the weekend before Christmas. Why all the secrecy? They know the American people will be outraged by their plan, which raises taxes by $518 billion, cuts Medicare by $470 billion, and Congressional Budget estimates show will increase overall expenditures on health care by $200 billion over the next 10 years.
Congress should take a time-out and start over. We need to agree that any reform should meet the following principles: You should be allowed to keep your current plan if you choose; families and small businesses should be able to design a plan that meets their individual needs; Washington bureaucrats should not come between patients and their doctors; and it should not increase taxes or drive up our deficit.
I believe there are some common-sense reforms Congress could enact that would bend the cost curve of health care.
We should start with medical malpractice reform to reduce frivolous lawsuits. In underserved areas, the threat of these lawsuits has forced doctors out of practice, and this is especially true for obstetricians. As I travel the state, many doctors have told me they feel forced to practice defensive medicine out of fear of frivolous lawsuits. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that we could save $54 billion over the next 10 years if we enacted medical liability reform.
We should look more seriously at wellness programs that provide economic incentives for people to live healthy lives and use preventive care programs that have been implemented successfully by many large companies. Countless examples demonstrate that when wellness programs are used, insurance premiums go down and employees' health improves. Wellness is a win-win because we end up with lower health care costs and healthier families.
We need more transparency in our health care system. Health care is one of the only services we purchase where it is tremendously difficult to compare the prices of procedures and to obtain reliable information on quality. Consumers should have access to better information on the costs and quality of health care so they can make informed decisions about their own care.
We need to improve the efficiency and delivery of care with electronic medical records and better coordination of care. Patients who have chronic illnesses or diseases often have multiple doctors caring for them. Without coordinated care and physicians having access to complete information, a patient may receive duplicate tests or fail to receive the appropriate complementary treatment. Having electronic medical records and better coordination of care would save billions of dollars and provide patients with improved care.
We should allow small businesses to form a pool to purchase health insurance together. My husband, Joe, started a small business when he returned from serving in the Iraq War. Like other small business owners in New Hampshire and around the country, he has seen his health care costs explode over the last several years. By allowing small businesses to join together to purchase insurance, small businesses would have the same negotiating power as big companies. This can, and must, be done in a way that protects consumers. It is also inarguably true that when small businesses have lower health care costs, they are in a better position to create more jobs.
Finally, we should allow the purchase of insurance across state lines. This would create competition, driving down the cost of insurance. Additionally, it would give us more options to choose from when purchasing insurance.
There is no single silver bullet to solve our nation's health care problems. However, by using common sense, Congress can enact reforms drafted in the public's eye --instead of through back-room deals -- that reduce costs and provide us with better health care without raising taxes and driving up our deficit.
Kelly Ayotte, former state attorney general, is running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Judd Gregg.
Kelly Ayotte - You are going to have to get a lot more original with your OP-ED's and much more conservative with your mindset and character. Read the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights for starters, and begin to base your thoughts and ideas on those documents.
New Hampshire certainly doesn't need to replicate the Snow / Collins ideology from Maine. Meaning..we're fed up with Liberals and Progressives pontificating in Republican dress. If you are truly conservative and believe Washington has gone way out of whack, say so and shout it out like you mean it!! Until then..you'll be assumed as a RINO.
- Dan Lloyd, Kingston NH
Talk about easy things, Spike has all the answers. Just say no to anything. Already having his, he wants to prevent anyone else from getting theirs. No reform, no change, no global warming, no gay marriage, no flouride in the water, no ozone layer hole, no taxes, no railroads, no highways, no military, no schools, no help for the disadvantaged. This is NO program. The only thing about which anyone agrees is that what we have now can not continue. Health care costs will bury us, increasing world temperature will drown us, Republicants will keep hanging on to the last great thing and denying everything else. Can't, shouldn't, wouldn't, oughtn't, pain, fear, end of the world as we know it. All this bleating is just the same as when Social Security started, Medicare started, Medicaid started, social programs started, anything Democrats have tried to do to improve the conditions of our citizens have been obstructed, denied, overturned (producing the economic crises now on). Aren't you tired of being duped by these same rich greedy jerks?
- Bert, Deerfield
Ms. Ayotte misses the point in most of what she has to say. What is at
stake here are issues of basic liberty and freedom. Health care is between
a doctor and their patient, and an insurance carrier if the patient so choses to purchase insurance. Due to government interference, there is little
competition in health insurance. We need to get the federal and state
governments out of the business of regulating, providing, and further subsidizing healthcare, and let the free market system work. The current healthcare package will only make more people dependent on government healthcare, reducing their incentive to make responsible healthcare decisions.
- Raymond, Deerfield
in the congress it is not allowed to give a back door deal for a vote,why should the senate be any different? i think they should all get pink slips in there christmas stockings
- glen wyman, wentworth
I've learned to decipher koolaid code:
"It's easy to observe a rising trend (medical costs or CO2) and declare it 'unsustainable.' It's easy to view the medical businesses as a 'system' in need of 'reform.' Reform will replace government mandates with different government mandates. Perhaps Kelly can tell us why the fact that we spend 16% of OUR money on health care is a problem requiring salvation from Washington in the first place."
Translation: Spike does not know why rising medical costs matter to our large democracy of working families with kids, living with crap for insurance.
"Lawsuit reform and price transparency are obvious solutions to problems created by Congress. But interstate sale of insurance is a mere workaround to the Shaheen-era rules that drove companies out of NH, as Congress is just as eager to dictate the terms of our insurance policies, starting with abortions."
Translation: Spike does not know how our health care payment system came into being.
"And moving all our medical information to Washington "for safe keeping" resulted in massive theft when we let a previous generation of legislators do it to our pensions, on the same assumption: that Americans are too stupid to manage our own lives."
Translation: Spike does not understand medical records databases.
"Setting out to deliver "reform" of a problem defined by the Democrats was what led Judd Gregg to his most recent posture--Socialism Lite, and with the courage to raise taxes to "pay for it." Judd is no foe of back-room deals, provided he is in the room. Is Kelly different?"
Translation: Spike does not understand we have a health care problem.
Take THAT Kelly Ayotte! And the Dems too!
- Binnie, Hampton
Are you referring to Ben Nelson, the Democratic Senator from Nebraska, who betrayed a lot of people who supported him and cost the taxpayers millions? Sorry Jack, ALL the republicans have voted against it and will continue to do so. If you have a 22 year old child, you should be old enough to remember true misery under the Carter administration. If you have forgotten, don't worry, our current president will have us back there in no time if we don't change congress in 2010.
- Jeannine, Weare
While you criticize Senate Democrats for acting "in secret, cutting back-room deals," may I remind you of your own back-room activities that undermined Public Counsel Peter Roth's arguments against Granite Reliable Power's application for the Millsfield project.
How are they different?
- Brian Ruth, Lancaster
Kelly, what does R-I-N-O spell?
You might be a registered republican, but you are about as conservative as John McCain.
You lobbied hard against the right to self defense in one's own home. Now you are attacking Paul Hodes, who will sink his own ship, and offering nothing new in terms of the healthcare discussion. The congressional budget office may be non-partisan, but it always assumes to be true what it is told. In analyzing both healthcare bills the CBO assumed a savings in medicare fraud equal to 100% of what they were told it would be.
Tort reform has already been mentioned, as has pooling resources and buying insurance across state lines. All of your proposals would help drive down the cost of healthcare. What you entirely ignore, as have all of our elected officals, is a careful analysis of the reasons healthcare is so expensive in this country. You can't have reform that meets your criteria if you do not understand the root causes of skyhigh health care costs. Imagine going in to a mechanic and telling him your car is getting really poor mileage. He immediately sells you tires and an oil change. Sounds like it should fix the problem. Too bad he didn't ask you more questions and determine that it was a just a faulty spark plug that he had previously installed.
Now replace the car with a person and the mechanic with the government. Any chance that past government intervention, though well intentioned, is actually a significant factor contributing to the rediculouly high healthcare costs? Its a bitter pill to swallow, but until the root causes of high healthcare costs are determined, no amount of legislation is going to fix it.
- Michael Layon, Derry
Thanks to Kelly for speaking out about this issue but I don't understand why she, and almost everybody else, fails to mention the one cost free change that would answer most of her questions; namely the ending of low or no co-pay benefits and the establishment of high deductable coverage with ealt-savings-account. That one chage would encourage people to price-shop and create real conpetition.
- Ernie Bridge, Unity, NBH
Like you say Ms. Ayotte, there is no silver bullet. So what is wrong with adding the health care bill? Granted, too much pork but it was you fellow Republican Nelson who demanded it. Talk about holding the uninsured hostage! Your spin is the same old Republican crap. The Republicans have nothing and bring nothing to any debate. They only want to create fear and blame someone else for 8 years of misery under Bush and Cheney.
As in independent there is no way I will vote for you nor will anyone in my family. When was the last time you tried to buy health insurance for you kids? My 22 year old - $14,000.00 Cobra? A joke. Who can afford $14,000.00/year when they are laid off?
- Jack Burns, Concord
This sound good, but you forget one thing...there is no common sense in the government or the country for that matter. Government needs to get out of the business of running our lives. I can do that on my own, I don't need government to tell me what to do and how to do it.
- Ruthie, Fremont
Give it up. You are a light weight. There is absolutely no way you will win a Republican primary. AG does not immediately make you a main stream candidate.
- Bob, Bow
While you criticize Senate Democrats for acting "in secret, cutting back-room deals," may I remind you of your own back-room activities that undermined Public Counsel Peter Roth's arguments against Granite Reliable Power's application for the Millsfield project.
How are they different?
- Brian, Lancaster
"There is no single silver bullet to solve our nation's health care problems. "
Actually, there is - let's mandate that every American be enrolled in the same plan as enjoyed by Congress. Further, let's require that members of Congress be restricted to only that public plan, for the duration of their tenure. If they want a better plan than the public plan, they can have it, if they pay for it, and if they first resign from office.
I suspect We'd see meaningful reform fairly quickly.
- tom, candia
It's easy to observe a rising trend (medical costs or CO2) and declare it "unsustainable." It's easy to view the medical businesses as a "system" in need of "reform." Reform will replace government mandates with different government mandates. Perhaps Kelly can tell us why the fact that we spend 16% of OUR money on health care is a problem requiring salvation from Washington in the first place.
Lawsuit reform and price transparency are obvious solutions to problems created by Congress. But interstate sale of insurance is a mere workaround to the Shaheen-era rules that drove companies out of NH, as Congress is just as eager to dictate the terms of our insurance policies, starting with abortions. And moving all our medical information to Washington "for safe keeping" resulted in massive theft when we let a previous generation of legislators do it to our pensions, on the same assumption: that Americans are too stupid to manage our own lives.
Setting out to deliver "reform" of a problem defined by the Democrats was what led Judd Gregg to his most recent posture--Socialism Lite, and with the courage to raise taxes to "pay for it." Judd is no foe of back-room deals, provided he is in the room. Is Kelly different?
- Spike, Brentwood NH
"Native daughter targets entitlements"
By ALBERT McKEON, Staff Writer, The Nashua (NH) Telegraph, 4/6/2011
Nashua native Kelly Ayotte gave her first speech on the U.S. Senate floor Wednesday, calling for the reform of Medicare and Social Security and greater fiscal restraint in government.
The Republican’s Senate address came as Congress and the White House continued to negotiate an overdue budget for 2011 that if not extended or finalized could shut down the federal government Saturday.
“Back home in New Hampshire, people – especially small-business owners – are astounded to learn that our federal government is currently operating outside the confines of a strict budget,” Ayotte said, according to a transcript of her speech.
Ayotte, who replaced retired Republican Sen. Judd Gregg in January, contrasted the budgetary struggles of families to “our addiction to spending in Washington.”
“With limited resources, they make hard choices to distinguish between ‘wants’ and ‘needs.’ It’s time for the federal government to do the same,” she said.
To rein in spending, every program in government should be reviewed to eliminate waste, duplication and fraud, Ayotte said. She also voiced support for a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, as well as statutory power to freeze funds if Congress fails to meet deficit targets.
Looking at the long term, Ayotte endorsed reform of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, calling it an issue that should bring together political parties and one that “requires presidential leadership.” The country deserves “a substantive, responsible debate on how we can preserve these programs in a fiscally sustainable way,” she said.
In a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon from Washington, several hours after her speech, Ayotte said several Democrats approached her after her address and said they looked forward to working on reducing the annual budget deficit and the nation’s long-standing debt, which now exceeds $14 trillion.
“The numbers are what they are,” Ayotte said. “They’re not Democratic numbers. They’re not Republican numbers. They’re not independent numbers. … We have to address them now.”
Ayotte said she hadn’t yet reviewed a budget proposal for 2012, released Tuesday by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that tries to reform Medicaid and Medicare.
In essence, Ryan wants the government to pay private insurers for senior citizens health care, instead of having Medicare being a guaranteed entitlement. And Medicaid payments would be dispersed through block grants at the state level. The budget proposal doesn’t address Social Security.
Entitlement spending on those two programs, and Social Security, account for as much as 80 percent of the national debt, according to several estimates.
“I appreciate he has come out with a proposal that’s substantive, and it’s a very important discussion to have,” Ayotte said. She added that if people oppose Ryan’s plan, she hopes they will create alternative proposals to add to the discussion.
“If we don’t address it now, the choices become much more difficult,” Ayotte said.
Ayotte said it “was a real privilege and humbling to think of the history in that chamber” as she gave her speech. It was enough history to make her “feel the butterflies,” she said.
Ayotte considers the need to fix the government’s fiscal position as this generation’s greatest challenge. In her speech, she compared tackling that challenge to the courage of her 95-year-old grandfather, Nashua resident Joe Sullivan, and others in his generation, to fight in World War II.
Later, Ayotte said she wasn’t sure if her grandfather heard her speech, but her family would make sure he sees the video if he missed it.
Albert McKeon can be reached at 594-5832 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
"New Hampshire's all-female Congressional delegation honored at sold-out event in Manchester"
By DAVE SOLOMON, New Hampshire Union Leader, December 7, 2012
Gov.-Elect Maggie Hassan, from left, Rep.-Elect Ann McLane Kuster, Rep.-Elect Carol Shea-Porter, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen share the stage during New Hampshire's Fist In the Nation Women event at St. Anselm in Manchester on Friday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
MANCHESTER -- The slogan on the T-shirts for sale in the lobby said it all: "New Hampshire, where women rule."
The YWCA contingent selling the souvenirs was part of an overflow crowd at St. Anselm College on Friday, celebrating the state's all-female congressional delegation, and the fact that women now hold leadership positions in all three branches of state government - as governor-elect, Speaker of the House and chief justice of the state Supreme Court.
On hand for the occasion, hosted by the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, were Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan, newly elected U.S. representatives Ann McLane Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter, and incumbent U.S. senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte.
In a conversation moderated by chamber president and CEO Robin Comstock, they touched on issues ranging from the likelihood of a woman President to the pressures of politics on family life. Comstock told the audience at the outset that people across the country viewed the New Hampshire election outcome as historic, and the panelists agreed.
"Pink is the new power color in New Hampshire," Kuster joked.
Shaheen reminded the crowd, however, that equality for women in many areas remains elusive. "Even though we've elected a number of women in New Hampshire to lead the state, the fact is doors are still not open for all women, and part of what we've got to do is make sure the doors are open for all women, for everybody, so people have the same access to opportunity in New Hampshire and the country."
Wage equality, affordable child care, domestic violence and the need to preserve a social safety net were recurring themes at the gathering.
"No matter what your opinion is on these issues, there are no longer women's issues, per se," Kuster said. "These are people issues."
She pointed out that 50,000 women in the state are the sole head of household. "There's no other money coming into those households, and 10,000 of those families are living in poverty," she said. "So if we could pay each woman a dollar for a dollar's work, instead of 73 cents, we could bring all those kids up."
Violence against women is taking a terrible toll, she said, calling it "an issue people would prefer not to know about; prefer not to talk about. We've got to address women's safety."
Shea-Porter warned that women would be particularly hard hit by reductions in Medicare or Social Security, since many more women than men retire without a pension or substantial savings. "They contributed so much," she said, "but they are not protected in old age because they did not get that big job, or that education. Those doors were closed."
Ayotte, whose children are 8 and 5, said women are still considered the primary caregivers, no matter their profession. "When I was campaigning I got a lot of questions about what's going to happen to your children," she said, "and actually I think those questions are there much more for women than they are for men. That's just the reality."
Much of the conversation focused on the role of women mentors, particularly the examples set by mothers, and the support of husbands and other family members that made political life possible for the five women. "We all struggle with work and family balance," Hassan said. "We all still think about the impact that service has on our families, what it's like for our kids."
All agreed that women are particularly important in politics at a time when the public is placing a premium on consensus building and demanding an end to gridlock.
Shaheen described how all female senators meet four times a year. "We have dinner together," she said. "What's said at that dinner stays at the dinner. But we joke a lot that if we were running things, we could deal with a lot of the problems more successfully because we have that relationship."
All five agreed that the country will see a woman President, perhaps in the near future. "Maybe in 2016 when Hillary (Clinton) runs," said Shaheen, to loud applause.
The size of the crowd and the mood of the audience reflected Kuster's observation that the 2012 election was "a real watershed moment" for women, with New Hampshire leading the way.
Young girls are growing up with expectations made possible by the female role models they now see around them, Ayotte said, describing how one daughter asked if she planned to run for President.
After dismissing the notion, Ayotte said, "Why do you ask?"
"I don't want you to run for President," the daughter replied. "I want to be the first woman President."
"Ayotte calls for mental health system bill"
The Nashua Telegraph, September 18, 2013
CONCORD (AP) – In the wake of the deadly shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., is calling for Senate consideration of a measure to strengthen the nation’s mental health system and for a hearing to examine federal contractor hiring practices at military installations.
Ayotte said the Senate voted earlier this year in favor of a bipartisan amendment that would provide support for training programs to help identify, understand and address crisis situations safely. It also would provide grants for mental health training programs for teachers, first responders, police, and others.
She also said that with reports indicating gunman Aaron Alexis had a troubled past, senators need to fully understand contract hiring practices at military installations, ensure that contractors are fit to serve, and don’t pose a danger.
"Bedford Democrat quietly preparing to run for U.S. Senate against Kelly Ayotte"
By James Pindell, WMUR.com - Political Scoop, November 25, 2014
BEDFORD, N.H. — A young entrepreneur from Bedford has been quietly meeting with Democratic politicians and operatives in preparation for what appears to be a run for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte.
Shawn O'Connor moved from New York City to Bedford last year and has not been particularly active in local Democratic politics. He has not given money to any federal candidates, including U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, according to the Federal Election Commission website. Though a day before the Nov. 4 election, he did give a $1,000 each to the Manchester Democratic Committee and to Executive Councilor Chris Pappas.
Interviews with three people who have met him recently describe O'Connor as nice, earnest, and unknown.
All stressed to O'Connor that the political climb for the U.S. Senate could be a bit difficult, particularly if Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan decides to run for the seat.
On Monday two job ads appeared in the Capitol Hill newspaper, Roll Call, for a finance director and deputy finance director for a gay Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in New Hampshire. That description would fit O'Connor. After those job posts were revealed on Twitter, they were deleted.
He is a graduate of Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School, O'Connor started a test prep company in Manhattan that recently opened a New England branch in Bedford.
When reached Monday O'Connor declined to comment.
"What about Ayotte?"
fosters.com - Letters, May 23, 2015
To the editor: This whole scandal surrounding Frank Guinta accepting $355,000 in illegal campaign contributions and then repeatedly lying about it for over 5 years has left me thinking. Not about Frank Guinta, this new information only confirms what I’ve suspected to be true about him for years, but rather about Kelly Ayotte.
For years Ayotte has been a big supporter of Frank Guinta, even going so far as to give her “damned liar” colleague $20,000 in campaign contributions. She obviously knew about the allegations against Guinta but clearly didn’t bother to ask any serious questions about them before giving him tens of thousands of dollars. Now, realizing that Guinta has become politically toxic, Ayotte is trying to run away as fast as she can.
Ayotte was vulnerable in her re-election effort long before the current Guinta scandal. For years Ayotte has put special interests in front of the people of New Hampshire. And there are already many examples of this, as Granite Staters know. Who can forget about Ayotte going against the wishes of nearly 90% of New Hampshire voters when she voted down, after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, the bipartisan Manchin-Toomey gun background check measure? What about all those times she’s voted to cut funding for Pell grants for thousands of Granite State students? How about her going against 75% of her constituents with her staunch opposition to same-sex marriage? And of course, there is her attempt to sabotage U.S. foreign policy by signing that partisan letter to Iran.
Time and again, Ayotte has sided with special interests and her party’s leadership against the will and best interests of the people of New Hampshire. Just as we deserve better than Guinta, so too do we deserve better than Ayotte.
"Ayotte’s Guinta problem"
The Concord Monitor, Letters, May 25, 2015
Dear Sen. Kelly Ayotte: Recently you condemned our president as living in an “alternative reality.” Actually, since your becoming a U.S. senator, you have been quick to condemn virtually everything our president has done.
During this same period, your record regarding Frank Guinta has been substantially more accommodating. While he was condemned as being one of the most corrupt people in Congress, no small feat, you showed unwavering support. When Guinta was consistently condemned for playing fast and loose with campaign finances, you donated $20,000 to his campaigns. You have also been quick to let us know you’re not just an attorney, but also a former state attorney general, which gives you added insight in your current position as a U.S. Senator.
With such insight, perhaps you can tell us how you failed to see the problems with Guinta? It appears your “insight” is conveniently selective. Read partisan. Did you choose to ignore the obvious signs; was it simply an opportunistic choice; or was it from living in your “alternative reality”? New Hampshire deserves an honest answer.
Another View -- Kelly Ayotte: "A simple way to increase women's access to safe, effective contraceptives"
By Kelly Ayotte, Op-Ed, NH Union Leader, May 28, 2015
In the United States Senate, there is bipartisan agreement that contraceptives are safe, effective and play an important role in allowing women to prevent unwanted pregnancies and manage certain health conditions.
Yet, despite the many positive benefits of contraceptives, barriers to access exist that can pose a challenge to women seeking to use safe and effective contraception, a finding confirmed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in a December 2012 opinion.
I and several other senators recently introduced the Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act, which seeks to remove those barriers and expand women’s access to safe and effective contraceptives, made available to them around the clock and without a prescription.
By encouraging manufacturers of contraceptives to file applications with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to move their products over-the-counter (OTC), our bill is a commonsense proposal that would allow women more convenient access to a wide spectrum of safe and effective contraceptives.
While some critics of the bill have falsely claimed it would eliminate insurance coverage, nothing in the bill changes current insurance coverage of contraceptives or prevents insurance companies from continuing to cover contraceptive costs.
In fact, as more products move from prescription to OTC, the costs of the products themselves have come down.
For example, a popular allergy drug available only with a prescription costs $30 a month, while an OTC option is priced at $17.40 per month. In 2004, after a well-known heartburn medication was approved for sale OTC, its monthly price decreased from $132.90 to $21.49.
In 2012, Consumer Reports found that a health care consumer could save $148 a month on allergy drugs by switching from prescription to an OTC option; save $192 a month on switching to OTC for heartburn drugs; and save $265 per month using an OTC option to treat joint pain.
There are also potential savings to the health care system as a whole. According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, every dollar spent on OTC medicines accounts for $6 to $7 in savings for the U.S. health system.
Additionally, our legislation would give women greater ability to save for their health care costs by repealing Obamacare’s restrictions on consumer-directed health plans like health savings accounts, medical savings accounts, and flexible spending accounts (FSAs).
Obamacare included a provision that prohibited the use of these accounts to purchase OTC medications without a prescription, and it limited the total annual amount of contributions that could be made to an FSA.
Our bill would eliminate these restrictions, thereby giving women more purchasing power and giving them more control over their own health care decisions for a number of medications.
It’s important to note that our proposal would not interfere with how the FDA determines safety and efficacy, nor does it mandate that contraception be made available OTC, instead maintaining the authority of FDA scientists and experts to make the final decision on whether a contraceptive should be made available OTC.
Ensuring that the FDA is able to continue to do its job will make sure that any OTC contraceptives are held to the FDA’s same high standards of safety and efficacy.
ACOG expressed support for OTC contraception in its 2012 opinion, saying that “a potential way to improve contraceptive access and use, and possibly decrease unintended pregnancy rates, is to allow over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives.”
I share the goal of increasing women’s access to safe and effective contraceptives and I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this critically important legislation, which would be a victory for women’s health.
Kelly Ayotte, a Nashua Republican, represents New Hampshire in the United States Senate.
"Trump isn’t the only problem for Kelly Ayotte"
The Boston Globe, Letters, August 10, 2016
WHILE SENATOR Kelly Ayotte to date has only issued a tepid “I support the nominee,” it is far from clear that a disavowal of Donald Trump will mean anything unless Senator Ayotte is prepared to disavow the Republican Party platform as well, which is fully endorsed by Trump and was enthusiastically adopted at the recent Republican convention (“Ayotte should disavow Trump — now,” Editorial, Aug. 8).
The question is whether Ayotte is prepared to speak up in opposition to any of the following planks: requiring the Bible be taught in public high schools, no exceptions for abortion even for rape or a woman’s health, promoting coal as a “clean energy source,” return of federal lands to the states, barring female soldiers from combat, reversal of the Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision of a year ago, using religion as a guide in lawmaking, and protecting merchants who would discriminate against gay customers. And is Kelly Ayotte prepared to oppose Trump’s oft-promised intention to “build a wall” across the Mexican border, or stand in opposition to Trump’s oft-promised plan to round up some 11 million undocumented immigrants and rapidly export them all?
There is no evidence whatsoever to date that Senator Ayotte would disavow the Republican Party’s positions, and Trump’s, on any of the foregoing. It goes without saying that her opponent, Governor Maggie Hassan, stands opposed to all of the foregoing Republican Party planks.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, D-N.H. on Capitol Hill in Washington earlier this year. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)
EDITORIAL - The Boston Globe
"Kelly Ayotte should disavow Donald Trump — now"
August 8, 2016
MORE THAN 180 years ago, well before Donald Trump stamped the words “Make America Great Again” on his campaign swag, a French political scientist named Alexis de Tocqueville toured the United States. He wanted to suss out the secret sauce, to ascertain what accounted for our country’s success in sustaining a representative democracy, so visible from his perch overseas. And, from a European perspective, so rare.
Again and again on his tour, he found evidence for a simple but powerful principle: “America is great because she is good,” he wrote. “If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
But these days, no one needs a French observer to tell them that some of the bedrock principles of our democratic system need a bit of shoring up. As the GOP front-runner, Trump is leading a prairie fire of a campaign that scorches the landscape daily. But instead of repudiating Trump, Republican candidates are tying themselves into knots, decrying Trump’s most disgraceful statements but still offering support.
There’s a particularly glaring example of this in New Hampshire, where Senator Kelly Ayotte is locked in a tight race with Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan. The latest polls, averaged by Real Clear Politics, put Hassan ahead slightly, at 45.6 percent, and Ayotte at 44.6 percent. Tellingly, as the Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert reported last week, Ayotte is attempting to have it both ways, by not “endorsing” Trump but saying she still will “support the nominee.”
After days of toying with her, Trump endorsed Ayotte Friday night. But Ayotte, a highly visible attorney general before she ran for Senate, should nevertheless immediately disavow Trump. Is this risky in a state that thumbed its nose at the GOP establishment in the primary? Of course — 100,000 New Hampshire Republicans voted for Trump in February. But Ayotte needs to infuse her campaign with the courage of her convictions as a matter of moral suasion. Trump’s comments attacking the Gold Star Khan family alone should disqualify him in her eyes: Ayotte’s husband, Joe Daley, flew combat missions in the Iraq War, and she is a member of the Armed Services Committee. As a senator, she had the gumption to cross party lines to vote for federal clean air rules to protect the New Hampshire environment and has been part of bipartisan efforts on domestic violence. Trump’s commentary on women throughout his campaign can’t be lost on her.
Donald Trump said he’s more popular than she is in New Hampshire — a state which, he suggests, she no longer deserves to represent.
In a tough fight for reelection, Ayotte seems to be making a purely political calculation that she cannot buck Trump’s surge — he has, after all, raised $82 million in small donations in short order. The threats are readily apparent on her Twitter feed: “No Trump endorsement and you will not get my vote,” @fernm43, identified as a New Hampshire resident, tweeted, calling her a RINO — Republican in Name Only.
But President Obama has it right when he asks the simple question on every right-thinking voter’s mind: How can Ayotte and other Republicans continue to support Trump and the America he represents? Disavowing him is not only right, but can serve to strengthen what’s truly great about our democracy.
"Ayotte, despite criticism from Trump, maintains support"
By Stephanie Ebbert, Boston Globe Staff, August 4, 2016
Here’s what Donald Trump had to say this week about Senator Kelly Ayotte, his fellow Republican who is facing a battle for reelection: He’s more popular than she is in New Hampshire — a state which, he suggests, she no longer deserves to represent.
“I know she’s given me no support, zero support, and yet I’m leading her in the polls,” Trump told the Washington Post — incorrectly. “And I’m doing very well in New Hampshire. We need loyal people in this country. We need fighters in this country. We don’t need weak people. We have enough of them.”
Ayotte, who has twice denounced Trump’s inflammatory comments about veterans, is nonetheless still playing the good soldier. A day after Trump jabbed at her, musing, “Are these people that should be representing us?” she won’t disavow him.
Though Ayotte has been careful to say she isn’t “endorsing” Trump, her campaign on Wednesday said she will still “support the nominee.’’ But what does she have to gain by continuing to support him when he doesn’t support her?
Ayotte would not address the question with the Globe, instead issuing a statement through a spokeswoman.
Trump turned his ire to US senator from New Hampshire, a Republican who has tried to distance herself from the GOP nominee.
“Kelly has a strong record as an independent voice who delivers results for New Hampshire, and that’s what our campaign is focused on,” said Ayotte spokeswoman Liz Johnson.
Democrats trying to link Ayotte to the increasingly controversial Trump are goading her to take a stronger stand against him. The Democrat who is challenging her for reelection to the Senate, Governor Maggie Hassan, charged that the senator’s continued support of Trump “tells Granite Staters all they need to know about Ayotte’s lack of political courage.”
But political analysts say her silence may be golden. In an election year in which Trump has dominated virtually all discourse, he just did what she’s been delicately trying to do for months: put distance between the two of them.
“He did her a favor the other day by bringing her name up,” said Neil Levesque, executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. “She’s being tied to him in every possible way by the Democrats here in New Hampshire, and he came out and separated himself from her.”
Despite Trump’s claims that he’s doing better than Ayotte in her own state, polls show Ayotte and Hassan roughly neck-and-neck.
In the presidential race, Democrat Hillary Clinton is leading Trump 43 percent to 39 percent, according to an average of recent New Hampshire polling data from Real Clear Politics.
But in a fight this tight between Ayotte and Hassan, each woman will rely on strong institutional support from her respective party, said Andrew E. Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.
And Ayotte can’t risk alienating her party by dismissing its nominee — or the 35 percent of GOP voters who supported him in the state’s Republican presidential primary.
“She needs not only financial support and organizational support from the party but she has to have the support of the voters in the party,” said Smith. “You can’t throw your own party leader overboard.”
Both of the major-party candidates for president are “wildly unpopular” in New Hampshire, Smith noted. Trump registers an unfavorable rating of 61 percent, while Clinton is viewed unfavorably by 58 percent, he said.
“It's not surprising that she is having to walk that tightrope between not wanting to be seen at Trump’s side, but not alienating herself from Republican voters who will find reasons to vote for Republican candidates up and down the ticket,” said Smith.
The contortions made by Ayotte and other Republicans running for reelection have been increasingly complicated. Ayotte has been trying to tread carefully around a Republican standard-bearer who is prone to dropping rhetorical bombs. Though Ayotte declined to “endorse” Trump, she said she would support the party’s nominee — a semantic distinction that left many bemused.
She also steered clear of the Republican National Convention. And she has issued careful denunciations of Trump comments she deemed “offensive,” beginning last summer when Trump suggested Senator John McCain was “not a war hero,” because he’d been captured and held as a prisoner of war. In June, Ayotte criticized Trump’s assertion that a judge of Mexican heritage was biased against him.
This week, Ayotte, whose husband is a military veteran, blasted Trump for his critical reaction to the parents of an American Muslim soldier who had died in service. (The late soldier’s parents appeared onstage at the Democratic National Convention and condemned Trump’s treatment of Muslims.)
“I am appalled that Donald Trump would disparage them and that he had the gall to compare his own sacrifices to those of a Gold Star family,” Ayotte said.
But since Ayotte didn’t withdraw her support for Trump, she was slammed by her Democratic rival’s campaign.
“Ayotte’s decision to support Trump for president — and to continue to stand by him as he reinforces every day just how temperamentally unfit he is to serve as president — raises serious questions about her judgment,” Hassan said in a statement.
That same day, President Obama put the pressure on elected Republicans, asking how they can continue to support Trump while they issue “repeated denunciations” of his statements.
“If you are repeatedly having to say, in very strong terms, that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him?” Obama said. “There has to be a point in which you say, ‘This is not somebody I can support for president of the United States.’ ”
McCain also criticized Trump for his statements this week and House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke up for the family, but neither withdrew his support for Trump’s campaign.
Still, in the same interview with the Washington Post in which he was asked about Ayotte, Trump toyed with both McCain and Ryan, withholding endorsements in their own contested races for reelection.
“This is a tough spot for all of these Republicans,” said Smith, who noted they would typically follow former president Reagan’s 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.
“Democrats are the same way,” Smith said. “It’s very difficult for them to disavow somebody even if they don’t like them.”
Ayotte did not disavow Trump, even after his dismissive comments about her were publicized Tuesday night. Instead she took to Twitter to issue her defense.
“I call it like I see it,” Ayotte wrote in a Tweet. “And I’m always going to stand up for our military families and what’s best for the people of New Hampshire.”
Stephanie Ebbert can be reached at Stephanie.Ebbert@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @StephanieEbbert.
U.S. Senate race
Sen. Kelly Ayotte
According to Ayotte’s most recently filed report, through Aug. 24 she received $15.1 million in total contributions. Of that amount, contributions from individuals total just less than $11 million, while contributions from political action committees total nearly $4.1 million or 27 percent of the overall total.
Some examples of big PAC contributors to Ayotte, contained in her second quarter report, are:
-- $10,000 so far in the campaign from the Majority Committee PAC, affiliated with U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Cal.
– $10,000 from the Continental Resources Inc., PAC, based in Oklahoma City. The company calls itself “a top 10 independent oil producer in the U.S. lower 48 and a leader in America's energy renaissance. Continental is the largest leaseholder and one of the largest producers in the nation's premier oil field, the Bakken of North Dakota and Montana.”
-- $10,000 campaign total from the Safari Club International PAC, based in Tucson, Ariz. The Safari Club describes itself as a “nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of wildlife, education of the people, and the protection of hunters' rights.”
-- $10,000 campaign total from the AGL Resources PAC, based in Atlanta, Ga. The company describes itself as “the largest natural gas-only distribution company in the United States.”
-- $10,000 from the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, based in Washington, D.C., an association of independent insurance agents.
The Center for Responsive Politics, meanwhile, lists the largest contributor to Ayotte from 2011-2016 as NorPAC, which describes itself as “a non-partisan political action committee whose primary purpose is to support candidates and sitting members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives who demonstrate a genuine commitment to the strength, security, and survival of Israel.”
See more on Ayotte PAC receipts from the center’s OpenSecrets.org here.
Source: "Some NH candidates receive big contributions from special interest PACs"
WMUR.com finds PAC giving totals about $7 million to US Senate, House candidates, By John DiStaso, WMUR NH News, September 5, 2016
"Ayotte doesn't rule out serving Trump administration"
By Dan Seufert, NH Union Leader Correspondent, November 11, 2016
BOSCAWEN — U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, said Friday she is still “regrouping” after her election defeat Tuesday to Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, but she did not rule out playing a role in the Trump administration.
Rumors circulated nationally Friday morning that Ayotte could be tapped for a position in the new administration, despite her break from statements during her Senate campaign that were seen as supporting Trump.
Asked by reporters numerous times about the rumors and her plans after the Veterans Day Ceremony at the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery Friday, Ayotte said it’s too soon to say what she will do next.
“President Trump has a great opportunity to bring people together. We’ve had our differences but I wish him the very, very best,” she said. “If I can help him in any way, I will. But I want to make sure that people come together now, and we put (aside) any of our differences now.”
After spending nearly 30 minutes after the ceremony meeting a crowd of veterans and their families who gathered to say farewell to her and thank her, Ayotte told reporters she was unwinding with her family after the election, which she lost to Hassan by about 1,000 votes.
Asked if she might run for office again, or possibly challenge Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in 2020, Ayotte said it was too soon to say.
“I’m just regrouping with my family right now, but I will always find a way to serve our state and our country, even as a private citizen, this is so important to me, I love our country and I love our state, I just want to make sure we succeed. We have a real opportunity to do this now,” she said.
Last month, during a debate with Hassan, Ayotte said Trump was “a role model,” but hours later walked back that statement, calling it “a mistake.”
On Friday she was asked if the Trump statements played a role in her loss to Hassan.
“I think this was a very close election,” she said. “We were outspent, too, almost $17 million on television, so you could look at any factor.”
“I wish my very best for Governor Hassan. This was a spirited campaign, but now it’s time to work together,” she said. “I would also like to congratulate President Trump.”
"Rumors swirling about Ayotte’s future after loss to Hassan"
By Allie Morris, Concord Monitor staff, November 16, 2016
Defense secretary. Ambassador to the United Nations. New Hampshire voters narrowly ousted Kelly Ayotte from the U.S. Senate and now rumors are swirling about the Republican’s next step.
Ayotte has remained tight-lipped on future prospects. And while reports have surfaced that Republican President-elect Donald Trump is considering the Nashua resident for a cabinet position, both Ayotte backers and his local supporters cast doubt on the idea.
“I would be surprised,” said Rep. Al Baldasaro, a Londonderry Republican and the Trump campaign’s veterans advisor. “I’m still not happy she did not endorse Trump.”
Ayotte hasn’t made many public appearances since losing her seat to Democrat Maggie Hassan by a little more than 1,000 votes. But she told NH1 at a Veterans Day ceremony last week that she was focused on regrouping with her family. Ayotte lives with her husband and two school-aged children in Nashua.
“I will always find a way to serve our state and our country, even as a private citizen,” Ayotte said when asked whether she would serve in a Trump administration.
Through a campaign spokeswoman, Ayotte declined to comment about what’s next or whether she has been invited to join Trump’s cabinet. Following other failed U.S. Senate campaigns, candidates have turned to the private sector and academia.
“I have told her to take some time to relax and rest,” said Steve Duprey, an Ayotte backer and member of the Republican National Committee. “She will have terrific opportunities.”
The loss represents a stunning fall for Ayotte, who had become the state’s top Republican after winning the U.S. Senate seat in 2010. In Washington, Ayotte also carved a name for herself as a foreign policy hawk, signing a warning letter to Iran over nuclear talks and battling the Obama administration for information about detainees kept in the U.S military prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Ayotte’s tumultuous relationship with Trump may have played a role in her election downfall and it’s a prime reason why supporters dismiss reports she is being considered for his cabinet.
Throughout most of the campaign, Ayotte supported but refused to endorse Trump’s candidacy. He verbally lashed out at the New Hampshire senator over the summer, accusing Ayotte of giving him no support during an interview with the Washington Post.
Weeks later, Ayotte called Trump a role model during a televised debate, but quickly walked it back saying she had “misspoke.”
Ayotte eventually denounced Trump’s candidacy altogether after a 2005 video surfaced showing the businessman talking about groping and kissing women without consent.
News outlets began reporting that Ayotte was under consideration for a cabinet post after columnists for the Washington Post and the National Review opined last week that the Republican would be a good fit.
“Her elevation would signal that Trump campaign cronies won’t be moving into the West Wing – or the Pentagon; Trump would get credit for selecting a mainstream, serious person,” wrote Jennifer Rubin, a conservative who writes for the Washington Post.
A Trump spokesman did not return a request for comment.
Before joining the U.S. Senate, Ayotte was the state’s first female attorney general, appointment by Republican Gov. Craig Benson and twice reappointed by his Democratic successor, John Lynch. Ayotte oversaw the team that prosecuted Michael Addison, which resulted in the state’s first death penalty conviction in decades.
Ayotte served briefly as legal counsel to Benson in 2003 and spent the preceding years at the attorney general’s office and in a private practice. She graduated from Villanova University School of Law in 1993.
After losing her first bid for U.S. Senate in 2002, Jeanne Shaheen continued in politics, taking over as national chairwoman of John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. She was then named Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2005. She ran again for the U.S. Senate seat in 2008, successfully defeating Republican incumbent John E. Sununu in the pair’s second matchup.
Sununu, a one-term senator, moved to the private sector following the loss. He became a senior policy advisor at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, a lobbying and law firm in Washington, D.C. He kept up a public profile, writing op-eds for the Boston Globe.
While Ayotte has stayed mum on her own future, she is weighing in on the fate of others. The Republican told the Union Leader this week that Gordon MacDonald, a partner at the law firm Nixon Peabody, would be a good fit to head up the state attorney general’s office. Republican Governor-elect Chris Sununu is reportedly weighing the Manchester attorney to replace Joseph Foster, whose term is up at the end of March.
“Gordon is a highly respected and talented attorney who possesses great intellect and integrity,” Ayotte told the Union Leader. “He would be an excellent choice to serve as attorney general.”
(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or email@example.com.)
- Jonathan Melle
- Amherst, NH, United States
- I am a citizen defending the people against corrupt Pols who only serve their Corporate Elite masters, not the people! / My 2 political enemies are Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., nicknamed "Luciforo" and former Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. / I have also pasted many of my political essays on "The Berkshire Blog": berkshireeagle.blogspot.com / I AM THE ANTI-FRANK GUINTA! / Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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