The Legislative Ethics Committee approves letting Rep. Katherine Rogers, D-Concord, do legal services work for a media consulting company that has its own lobbying unit.

Jun 17, 2016 4:16 PM

Landrigan: NH Political Report. Legislative Ethics panel gives green light

The Legislative Ethics Committee weighed in recently with an opinion trying to untangle the state’s very confusing ban on gifts to lawmakers.

The dirty little secret is it’s hardly a ban at all since the number of exceptions to it is more than a dozen.

State Rep. and former Merrimack County Attorney Katherine Rogers, D-Concord, asked if it was okay for her to be paid to do legal work with a "media consultant group" that has a lobbying unit and does business with the Legislature.

Rogers offered up a client list to the ethics panel and vowed to create a Chinese wall with these firms and her legislative duties.

The committee ruled this agreement was okay under the guidelines because the work was "unrelated to her office" and done in the "regular course of employment."

If the firm does any work connected to Rogers’ conduct as a legislator, she needs to file a form that indicates whether she intends to take part in those matters.


This proved to be another successful, political week for Gov. Maggie Hassan. She had been the target of an attack ad on the drug crisis from the conservative OneNation Super PAC that her opponent, Senator Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, had called to come down because it was unfair.

At any rate, the Republican-led Legislature delivered Hassan several victories this past week, allowing her to sign bills that expand Granite Hammer statewide and also permit all 10 counties should they wish to have their own drug courts.

Also, the GOP-led House of Representatives failed to override any of Hassan’s six vetoes. The State Senate chose not to wipe the slate clean and the three Senate vetoes have not yet been acted upon.

There was plenty of debate, and at times some partisan mistrust about motives, but when all was said and done Hassan essentially got what she wanted from legislators to tackle the opioid epidemic.


Not to be outdone, One Nation returned this week with another anti-Hassan ad that will be on the air over the next 10 days.

Entitled "Troopers," it details how state taxpayer money has been used for state trooper salary and overtime for Hassan to travel outside the state.

“We’ve seen a pattern of neglect of urgent state business by Governor Hassan while she’s been on the road playing politics—and charging the taxpayers for some of it," said Steven Law, president of One Nation and former chief of staff to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “We are calling on Governor Hassan to step up and propose legislation that would stop wasting taxpayer money on politics."

Hassan's Communications Director Aaron Jacobs said the governor has studiously had the campaign reimburse for political travel. The GOP makes claims about her traveling too much out of the state and ignoring her job.

"Underscoring the hypocrisy of these blatantly partisan attacks, Ayotte's campaign co-chair, former Governor Steve Merrill, "often" traveled out-of-state as Governor in his capacity as national chairman of Bob Dole's presidential campaign, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell travels to political fundraisers with Capitol Police security protection," Jacobs said.

The Hassan campaign insists these attacks will not succeed.

"Kelly Ayotte's Washington special interest allies are desperate to distract from the fact that instead of doing her job, Ayotte has consistently put her political party and corporate special interests before the people of New Hampshire," Jacobs added.

"Ayotte missed nearly half of her Senate Homeland Security Committee meetings and was one of the first Senators to stand with her political party in obstructing the Supreme Court confirmation process, all at a time when the Senate is on pace to work the fewest days in 60 years."


Republican candidate for governor Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith, has her eye on the prize and that’s the front runner status of Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, R-Newfields.

So far, Sununu has not deigned to respond to Forrester’s several volleys to this point as no doubt her able media consultant, Mike Dennehy, knows this race only becomes winnable for his candidate if she can emerge as a stronger GOP nominee than Sununu.

This week the attack was over Sununu’s support for a limited increase in the minimum wage. Sununu said he could support a modest one if it’s tied to the inflation rate.

"I have worked with businesses on Main Street and I have listened to them. Any increase in the minimum wage will kill jobs and destroy their businesses," Forrester said Friday.

"The government should not be dictating to businesses how to operate. The government needs to get out of the way – not plant themselves in the middle. Chris Sununu is simply wrong.”


Senator Ayotte has kept her distance from Republican presidential nominee to be, Donald Trump but so far that hasn’t hurt her fundraising.

We saw another reason why, as The New York Times confirmed this week that former President George W. Bush has taken to stepping up to raise big cash for "vulnerable Republican senators" including Ayotte and 2008 presidential nominee John McCain.

Like Ayotte, Bush has not endorsed Trump and both also will not be at Trump’s nominating convention/coronation in Cleveland this summer.


Democratic candidate for governor Colin Van Ostern picked up a big establishment endorsement this week with the support of the National Education Association

"Colin Van Ostern has a proven record that New Hampshire educators and families can trust," said Megan Tuttle, NEA-NH Vice President and Pembroke teacher.

"From working to lower tuition costs to championing full-day kindergarten, Colin Van Ostern is an advocate for educators and students, alike. As our next Governor, Colin will continue moving New Hampshire forward, so that everyone has a chance to succeed - not just those at the top."


It doesn’t always translate to victory but clearly state Democrats win the hustle award when it comes to candidate recruitment. They managed to field candidates for all 24 Senate seats in contrast to Republicans who left two seats open. Also Democrats got 25 more to file for House seats than the GOP did.

One of the newer faces on the Democratic side is Kristi St. Laurent, candidate for Senate in District 19.

A sixteen-year resident of Windham, Kristi is heavily involved in her community, serving her fourth term as chair of the Windham Town Democratic Committee and serving on the Windham Planning Board.

St. Laurent will have her work cut out for her in a district that party registration wise heavily favors the incumbent, Hampstead Republican Sen. Regina Birdsell. The district also includes the town of Derry.


New Hampshire’s employment economy remains strong relative to the rest of the country.

In April, the unemployment rate was the second lowest in the US and lowest in New England.

And in May the work force reached an all-time high of 728,780 and has grown still larger since to nearly 750,000.

All of this points to a state near full employment.

Hassan used this good news to press further for her Gateway to Work plan that is still pending before the Republican-led Legislative Fiscal Committee.

"With more than 1,000 additional Granite Staters getting jobs in May and our unemployment rate remaining among the lowest in the nation, the number of employed Granite Staters is at a historic high," Hassan said. "While these are encouraging signs of a strong economy, we know that there is more work to do, especially as our innovative businesses are looking for more high-skilled workers now to grow and thrive while unemployment is low."


Republican Senate candidate Jim Rubens is likely to fail, he hopes not miserably in the GOP challenge of popular Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH.

But he continues to demonstrate as he has in many campaigns past that Rubens is a candidate of substance.

The latest was his appearance on Fiscal Fridays on NH1 with his ambitious plan to cut federal spending starting with some sacred cows in the Pentagon.

Rubens would move to discontinue the $1.4 trillion F-35 fighter jet and saving up to $120 billion by eliminating all land-based nuclear weapons. Rubens also suggested a package of $150 billion in federal healthcare cost reductions, replacing the costly and failed drug war with treatment on demand, and three procedural routes to a balanced budget.

“Kelly Ayotte promised to be a fiscal conservative and then voted over the past two years for budgets that added $1.5 trillion in debt,” said Rubens. “New Hampshire needs a U.S. Senator with the backbone to stand up to the lobbyists and crony capitalists and stave off impending economic chaos’’

Ayotte gets her own response with an appearance on Fiscal Fridays next week.

The full plan is available at


Former White House Chief of Staff and moderate Republican Andrew Card will be leaving as president of Franklin Pierce University this Aug. 1. The departure comes a few months before his planned departure at year’s end and Card said the school has already achieved his goals for undergraduate recruitment and growth of the endowment.

"I fell in love with this school and its mission when I served on the board,” Card said. “That love has only deepened during my service in the presidency. I have truly enjoyed getting to know the people who make this university a success and especially the outstanding students. I will miss them most of all.”


Quote of the Week:

“New Hampshire’s current concealed carry permitting law has worked well for nearly a century – safeguarding the Second Amendment rights of our citizens while helping to keep the Granite State one of the safest states in the nation. It is a permitting system that gives an important oversight role to local law enforcement while ensuring that an appeal process is in place if a permit is denied, a law that Republican Governor Mel Thomson said was ‘a sensible handgun law.’’ [-] Gov. Maggie Hassan vetoes legislation to repeal the concealed carry gun permit and the House of Representatives sustained that move this week.

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