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State Sen. Jerry Little, R-Weare, remains an odds-on favorite to become banking commissioner.

Feb 26, 2016 6:30 PM

Landrigan: NH Political Report. Business leaders are optimistic about both the state and national economic future


CONCORD - New Hampshire residents are feeling better about the state of our economy.

The big change in a new business poll is that people here are only slightly less optimistic about the national economy.

A University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll of 534 for the Business & Industry Association found half expect state businesses to do well in the next year with the national mood here running with 40 percent believing the country is headed for good financial times.

The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percent.


Project Veritas Action is at it again.

The anti-voter fraud activist group run by James O’Keefe has released a new video on the New Hampshire primary that alleges members of the Australian labor party were lured to campaign here for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders by being offered paid stipends for travel, lodging and the like.

"We kept meeting up with these young Australians in the Bernie Sanders campaign," O’Keefe said in the recent video. "When we heard why and how they came to be in the U.S. we were really curious."

The new series shows these members of the Sanders team destroying Donald Trump campaign signs that were on private property.

The group claims the Australians were financially supported by their country’s party which would be a clear violation of U.S. campaign finance laws.

"Federal election law is clear. Foreign nationals can volunteer for campaigns, but they must not be compensated. The fact that these Australian volunteers had their airfare paid for and that they are receiving a daily stipend as well as getting their housing paid for is a problem. It is especially a problem because the money is foreign money," the group maintained.

The video includes this conversation with Australian "volunteer" Ben Kremer:

"…and so like my flights and my travel amounts is all paid for, technically by the taxpayer, so they have had issues in the past, where like if I post a photo of myself in front of the Statue of Liberty, and the next morning it will be on the front of a newspaper, they’d be like, you know like, ’21-year-old student uses taxpayer’s money to go on holiday.' Like, what a disgrace… …There is nothing wrong with what I am doing here because the money is literally given to us for that sole reason, but if we post on social media it gives the current government an excuse to get rid of the program to save money. If that makes sense.”

The Sanders campaign has criticized O’Keefe’s group and charged they were illegally recorded.

New Hampshire law requires that both parties consent to a recorded conversation unless a judge approves a warrant from law enforcement to do a wiretap of a criminal suspect.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Joseph Foster’s office has already opened an investigation into videos that allege ineligible people cast ballots on Primary Day by claiming Sanders campaign headquarters as their legal address.

State prosecutors have asked O’Keefe’s group to turn over all of the unedited video footage.

Russell Verney, a spokesman for the group, says they’ve taken the request under advisement and want to comply with it as long as it retains the group’s journalistic integrity.


Is Banking Commissioner nominee Jerry Little in trouble?

The Republican state senator is in fine shape and will be appointed to a six-year term as long as all three Republicans on the five-person Executive Council stick together.

There’s the rub. The Weare Republican senator meet individually with councilors this week and not a single member of the group publicly has said he will vote against Gov. Maggie Hassan’s nominee.

Privately the man in the middle clearly is Councilor Chris Sununu, R-Newfields, principally because he’s also the GOP hopeful who is running for governor.

As we’ve written in this space before, Hassan has had her work cut out for her in the coming months as she mounts a campaign for US Senate and still tries to avoid becoming a weak, lame-duck chief executive.

This happened to then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen in 2001 when she was running for the US Senate and the all-Republican council at the time blocked many of her key appointments.

But Sununu has told associates he likes Hassan’s choice and his only concern is that this appointment should be put off until the end of the legislative session so Little’s constituents are represented.

If the council made this appointment by March 15, it would have to hold a special election under state election law. After that point it is not required and would not likely happen.

A petition started by the liberal, Moveon.org has generated 1,000 signatures. Former, Democratic nominee for governor and radio talk show host Arnie Arnesen has been leading the opposition.

They maintain his long service as president of the New Hampshire Bankers Association should call into question whether he can be independent.

Hassan came to Little’s aid this week insisting that since leaving the banking lobby four years ago he has stepped out from the industry’s shadow.

"On securities legislation last year, he was outspoken in calling for even stronger reforms," Hassan recalled.

Also, Little supporters point out that during a public hearing on the Banking Department’s budget in 2015, Little pored over their numbers and successfully called for the agency to reduce its spending requests.


Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley can hardly contain his delight at the prospect of running this fall against Donald Trump, the now-likely Republican nominee for President.

Buckley predicted Senator Kelly Ayotte and Republican candidate for governor Chris Sununu are headed for disaster.

"Establishment Republicans are lining up to denounce Trump, including Chris Sununu’s own father (former Gov. John H. Sununu,” Buckley said during a media conference call .

"But Ayotte and Sununu have remained silent. It’s clear they are willing to hitch their wagons to a candidate running on fear, anger and hatred.”

Buckley did misstate the facts on Sununu, however, noting the Republican councilor has been an opponent of Medicaid expansion.

Not anymore. Sununu told NH1 Political Director Paul Steinhauser this week that he’s on board with the Senate Republican-led rewrite of Medicaid Expansion that would renew it for two more years as long as the hospital and health insurance companies agreed to pick up any state taxpayer costs caused when the federal reimbursement goes down in later years.

Republican State Chairwoman Jennifer Horn put out an attack press release of her own about the Democratic frontrunner.

"The Democrats are stuck with one of the most extreme and damaged field of candidates in modern political history,” Horn said. “Gov. Hassan will be forced to run with either a radical socialist like Bernie Sanders, or a untrustworthy liar like Hillary Clinton, who is being investigated by the FBI. Instead of launching dishonest attacks, Democrats should focus on worrying about the very real possibility that their presidential nominee could end up under criminal indictment and in a pair of handcuffs by Election Day.”


At week’s end the Obama administration bragging about clean energy advances thanks to the federal stimulus law that turned seven years old this week.

Renewable energy generation has gone up 70 percent since 2008.

The Recovery Act’s 1603 program provides businesses a 30 percent tax credit to purchase clean energy technologies and backed tens of thousands of renewable energy projects throughout the country, including 46 in New Hampshire.

The state power generated here was enough to power 63,000 homes.


Quote of the Week:

"No matter when you called her she'd answer the phone, and she's always have a little joke to tell you. and always want to know what she could do for you." - Former Executive Councilor Ruth Griffin, a Portsmouth Republican, pays her respects to the Gate City’s most well-known Democrat, the late, Portsmouth Mayor and longtime State Senator Eileen Foley.


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