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Mar 14, 2016 10:52 PM

Steinhauser: Ayotte campaign and NHDP fight over transparency

NH1 News Political Director

MANCHESTER – A dispute over transparency and continued fight over funding for substance abuse efforts took center stage Monday in New Hampshire’s blockbuster U.S. Senate race.

In the morning Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s re-election campaign launched a new website titled ‘Sunshine for Hassan,’ which highlights what the Republican senator’s team says are Democratic challenger Maggie Hassan’s lack of transparency and accountability as New Hampshire’s governor.

Ayotte’s campaign charged that Hassan “and her administration have been missing in action on the key challenges facing the state and have repeatedly left New Hampshire voters in the dark.”

Speaking one-on-one with NH1 News, Ayotte said “I think it’s always important that we have transparency in government and certainly I think especially now that she’s running for Senate that she answer questions about where she stands on issues.”

“Issues like Guantanamo and making sure she’s very clear on what her position is. Making sure what her position is on the many federal issues on behalf of the people of New Hampshire,” Ayotte added.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party fired back.

“Kelly Ayotte really doesn’t have a place to talk when it comes to transparency, when she deleted every single one of her emails as attorney general after being there for years. The fact that she has yet to divulge who pays for these fancy special interest trips that she goes on,” NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley told NH1 News. “When it comes to revealing Kelly Ayotte’s probably not the person who should be tossing any stones.”

And a release from the state party added that Ayotte “also still has yet to respond to a request for information on her political travel submitted by the NHDP over a year ago.”

Ayotte spoke with NH1 News minutes after heading a round table discussion of federal efforts to help support state and local efforts in the fight against heroin and prescription opioid abuse at an event with community leaders at Hope for New Hampshire Recovery in Manchester.

Ayotte discussed the overwhelming passage last week of the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, known as CARA, and received input from those working on the front lines in the battle against the epidemic.

The NHDP’s criticizing Ayotte for highlighting that the Granite State will received more than $1 million in federal funding for substance abuse treatment that resulted in grants made possible by the Affordable Care Acts, which the Republican senator has opposed.

“Kelly Ayotte has five times voted against funding for the Affordable Care Act and then takes credit for money coming from the Affordable Care Act coming to New Hampshire. That’s really why we need a new U.S. senator,” Buckley told NH1 News.

Ayotte defended her record and said the NHDP’s playing politics.

“We had a reconciliation bill on the floor at the end of last year and in that bill there was $1.5 billion designated particularly, specifically to deal with the substance use disorders and mental illness that was put in that bill at my request and also that bill extended Medicaid for two years so I know that they would like to politicize this issue but I’ve been doing everything that I can to fight for more resources,” Ayotte told NH1 News.

The race between Ayotte and Hassan's shaping up to be the most high profile, expensive and negative Senate battles this year.


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