Jul 1, 2016 5:27 PM

NH Political Report-The left sees Ayotte tie to Trump University-like figures

This US Senate race in New Hampshire is much too high profile for there not be all kinds of links on the left to the politics and players near presumptive, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and to the right the devotees or associates of Republican nominee to be Donald Trump.

And sure enough, the left-wing Huffington Post sniffed out the latest Trump tie to New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte.

The liberal blog made much of the fact Ayotte attended a fundraiser this week where one of the sponsors was a lobbies to one that workws for non-profit colleges like Trump University.

They pounced on a report from WMUR’s John DiStaso that a sponsor was Jeff Pannozzo, the vice president of BridgePAC which is a political action committee that promotes Bridgepoint Education.

The firm is under investigation by several state attorneys general (of which Ayotte was one before becoming a US senator) along with the Securities Exchange Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

At least HuffPo noted that Ayotte has worked aggressively during her term in the Senate to enhance education benefits for vetrans a group that critics claim has been a target of Bridgepoint.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the $8,000 given by the Bridgepoint PAC to Ayotte’s campaign for this election is more than any member of Congress from either party.

Bridgepoint had posted on its website (before taking it down) a thank-you note from Ayotte for the financial backing.

"Thank you for your kind and generous contribution. I deeply appreciate your support and friendship," she wrote. "It is a great honor to serve in the United States Senate. No matter how difficult the political climate may be, I remain steadfast in my commitment to stand up for the beliefs that you and I share."

The Ayotte campaign says it has refunded the entire $8,000 in contributions.

"The campaign refunded these contributions when legitimate concerns about this organization’s practices were brought to our attention," Ayotte campaign spokeswoman Liz Johnson told NH1 News.


At the week’s end it was Ayotte on the offensive this time against Clinton calling upon Attorney General Loretta Lynch to recuse herself from the Department of Justice’s ongoing e-mail investigation into Clinton’s handling of e-mails while she was secretary of state.

This came after confirmed reports former President Bill Clinton met with AG Lynch for half an hour something the AG did not disclose for two days.

"As a former Attorney General, I believe Attorney General Lynch should recuse herself from this case given the importance of the investigation and the need to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest to ensure that all Americans have confidence in the outcome," Ayotte said. "I’m disappointed that she declined to do so."


The right-wing America Rising PAC used July 1st, traditionally a deadline for homeowners to pay property taxes, as the right time to bang her as a tax and spender.

"What does Hassan have to do with property taxes, you ask? Well, the 80+ ways she made life more expensive for Granite Staters included multiple votes to block property tax relief measures that would have made today’s tax bills a lighter burden for New Hampshire families – and even the state’s veterans,’" said Amelia Chasse, press secretary for the America Rising PAC.

Hassan has consistently pointed out New Hampshire’s very high standing as one with one of the lowest state and local tax burdens in the country. Even though she first vetoed them a year ago, the two-term Democrat has since pointed to her support of the first cut in business taxes in a quarter century.

Don’t think for a second that Executive Councilor Chris Sununu’s support for Planned Parenthoods family planning contracts is all a negative for his race for governor.

There is no question he’s taking on water in the short term. His on again, off again and now on again support for Planned Parenthood makes him an easy target of anti-abortion supporters and primary rivals Jeanie Forrester and Frank Edelblut.

He’s also coming under attacks from abortion rights backers like Democratic candidates Colin Van Ostern and Mark Connolly who use the controversy to question his sincerity.

So what’s the upside?

It’s only if Sununu can thread the needle (which is quite possible) and end up winning the GOP primary. There are many reasons why New Hampshire Democrats have won nine of the past 10 races for the corner office.

But one of them is clearly this big contrast over the abortion issue [-] Hassan used it well in her big, first win over 2012 Republican nominee for governor Ovide Lamontagne.

So Sununu would be the first, genuine pro-choice nominee the GOP had put up in more than 30 years.

It certainly would present the Democrat with a different dynamic.

This is an important weekend for state government and Hassan.

We won’t know for months how important once auditors present to us the final numbers but the books of state government closed Thursday at midnight.

This is more a political imperative than a substantive once since this is the end of the first year for a two-year cycle. It can often look much better or much worse than the total picture once the full budget is wrapped up.

But it is the surplus or deficit number that will be hung over Hassan as she wages her US Senate fight.

Given the fact state revenues were more than $60 million over forecast for the first 11 months of the fiscal year there is every expectation that the state budget should finish in the black.

But how good? And what of the $15 million in unexpected spending by the Department of Health and Human Services that came to the Legislative Fiscal Committee at its last meeting of the year? This reduces the robust picture but what kind of image remains?

Hassan will be able to declare an informal surplus number in the coming weeks but auditors will nail down the final numbers after Labor Day.


The transgender community is certainly happy that New Hampshire has a marquis Senate race this fall.

You may recall the New Hampshire House of Representatives made brief history in 2009 when then-House Speaker Terie Norelli, D-Portsmouth, cast the deciding vote to pass an anti-discrimination bill through the lower chamber by a single vote.

Then the critics went to work labeling it the ``bathroom bill’’ that would allow cross-dressing predators to prey on children in same-sex bathrooms. The State Senate soundly rejected it.

But with the furor over North Carolina’s own bathroom bill, Governor and Senate hopeful Hassan made herself the darling of the Human Rights Campaign by giving the transgender, gay and bisexual community the next best thing [-] an executive order outlawing discrimination based upon gender identity.

"This critically important step by Governor Hassan will help protect thousands of transgender Granite Staters," said HRC Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. "We congratulate the governor on her leadership and vision and her willingness to fight for a world where everyone including LGBTQ people, can live free from fear of discrimination."

He’s got an uphill climb for a campaign but Democratic candidate for Executive Council Dan Weeks made an impressive journey to underline commitment to the grassroots.

Weeks, a Milford resident, claimed he traveled 243 miles over 15 consecutive hours and in so doing visited all 33 towns in Council District 5.

This was one Thursday on what’s known as National Handshake Day.

"Although I’m proud of my New Hampshire heritage and was fortunate to grow up here in District 5, I cannot take my prior knowledge of the towns and their people for granted," Weeks said.

Weeks says his family roots go back to the first generation of English settlers in Portsmouth and Lancaster, NH.

"As a candidate and public servant, my job is to reach out to my constituents, listen to their concerns, and faithfully represent their interests in Concord. This tour is just one of many ways I am working to earn the people’s trust," Weeks added.

For his part this remains a Republican-tilted district by party registration and Councilor Dave Wheeler, R-Milford, remains the clear favorite.

"More than anything else, I want to know that my elected officials are representing me, that they'll listen to what I have to say and return my call," said Catherine Sofitikis, a resident of Nashua who met Weeks Thursday outside Nashua City Hall with her dog.

"Dan knows this District like the back of his hand and will stop at nothing to hear what other people have to say, even people he doesn’t agree with. He is setting a positive example of how campaigns should be run."

Weeks had a petition campaign kick off his campaign and helped lead the New Hampshire Rebellion, a grass roots movement that has crisscrossed the state twice in support of campaign finance reform.


How’s this for a real life experience about the opioid crisis from a New Hampshire politico and this one while he was visiting Boston.

Here’s the story of Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, who recently signed up to run for a 10th, two-year term.

"Two days ago, I saw a young man shoot up with heroin and almost die. This was a shock to me, to say the least, as I saw this happen up close," D’Allesandro began.

"As I walked into the men’s room at South Station in Boston, I saw a man on the floor turning blue. He was in a stall and had the door locked. A man was trying to assist him but could not open the stall door. Another guy got over the wall and was able to open the door. A group sprang into action trying to help. One person called 911 and was told how to deal with the man’s condition. The police came and the EMT’s followed. You could see the needle he used to inject himself and his belt was tight around his arm. The man was close to death when one security man gave him a shot of Narcan. He came around but needed a second shot before he came to. I was there in the middle of all the action."

D'Allesandro said lawmakers need to take a hard look at what they did on this front, which was a lot, and make sure there isn’t more they should do.

"I don’t have the answers. I know we must fight this terrible problem. As a society, we must join together to put a stop to this plague that has come upon us. I saw this up close and can only hope that we stand up and fight those who put people in harm’s way."

Friday was also an important milestone for New Hampshire’s Medicaid.

That’s because as of that date all 140,000 in the federal and state-subsidized health care program has access to substance abuse, prevention and recovery services.

This expansion has been available already to the 49,000 in the Medicaid expansion plan known as the New Hampshire Health Protection Program.

"Increasing access to substance misuse treatment services is a critical part of our comprehensive approach as we continue working to combat the heroin and opioid crisis," Gov. Hassan said.

"Last year, we worked together across party lines to reauthorize our bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program, which has provided substance misuse and behavioral health services to thousands of Granite Staters, and today, we take the important step to extend that same critical coverage to our traditional Medicaid population as well."


Co-Quotes of the Week:

"You know, I don’t hide behind the fact that I’m pro-choice. I’ve always been pro-choice. But, that isn’t what this is about. This is about healthcare. I voted consistently on this for the first few years. Last year was the only year we said no because this group was under investigation. And so whether you’re a snowplow driver or Planned Parenthood, you know, we don’t do business with companies that are under investigation. Look, that’s all clear. All those investigations are now gone. That’s been, for a lack of a better term, debunked. So, we have to treat them as fair as any other company. To do differently, in my mind, very clearly would be unconstitutional." [-] Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, R-Newfields, speaks during a radio interview this week on his decision to support restoring contracts for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

"Chris Sununu might want to erase his 2015 Planned Parenthood vote, but he can’t erase the videotape. New Hampshire voters have learned that the only thing consistent about Chris Sununu’s positions is that he’ll always put Chris Sununu first. This brazen flip-flop shows that Sununu can’t be trusted to stand up for New Hampshire residents. New Hampshire voters deserve a governor who will always fight to protect women’s healthcare and reproductive rights, not just when it is politically convenient." Democratic Governors Association Communications Director Jared Leopold offers his cynical view of Sununu’s record regarding Planned Parenthood.

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