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Feb 16, 2016 9:06 AM

Steinhauser: O'Connor says no to PAC & super PAC support, challenges Shea-Porter to do likewise

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – Shawn O’Connor says he’ll discourage anyone from forming a political action committee or a Super PAC to support his bid for Congress.

And the Bedford businessman is urging his rival for the Democratic nomination in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, former U.S. Rep. Carol Shea Porter, to do the same.

O’Connor made the news Tuesday morning in an email release.

“I am running for Congress to fundamentally change the way that Washington works. To address the rigged economy, we must first eliminate the power of special interests in Washington. Thus, I will only accept campaign donations from human beings. No PACs. No Super PACs. No Exceptions. I will only be accountable to the people of the Granite State who elect me,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor then zeroed in on Shea-Porter, who served three terms representing the 1st CD and is now fighting to win back the seat she lost in the 2014 election to GOP Rep. Frank Guinta.

“Over the last 12 years, Carol Shea-Porter has accepted more than $1,800,000 in donations from Washington special interests (excluding donations from Members of Congress, party committees, and the DCCC). This clearly does not align with her claim that she supports campaign finance reform and clean elections. I, therefore, challenge her to return the $66,000 in special interest PAC contributions that she has already received this cycle and to join me in refusing any PAC donations and in fighting the creation of a Super PAC to support her candidacy,” O’Connor stated.

Shea Porter's spokeswoman, Naomi Andrews, responded with a statement to NH1 News.

"Carol's primary opponent is trying to get noticed, as he has already poured $1 million of his own money, or 83% of the total ‘so-called’ money raised, to self-fund his campaign, and he has said he's prepared to spend millions to buy this seat. He’s a former Republican Wall Streeter who worked at Lehman Brothers and made his money charging wealthy New Yorkers top dollar ($8,000 for five applications) to help them get into top law schools," wrote Andrews.

"He recently moved from New York City to run for the Senate seat, then switched to the House. He has only voted in one federal election in New Hampshire, the 2014 election, so he does not know Carol's strong history of practicing campaign finance reform," she continued.

O’Connor also said if he wins election to the U.S. House of Representatives, he’ll only accept the current minimum wage salary of $15,080 as his congressional salary “until we enact legislation to incrementally raise the minimum wage to $15/hour for all Americans.”

O’Connor said the remainder of his congressional salary ($159,000 annually) would be donated to New Hampshire charities chosen by a citizens commission.

“It would be unconscionable for me to accept a $174,000 salary as a public servant and then tell other Americans that they should make do with $15,080,” O’Connor said.

He’s challenging Shea-Porter to follow suit.

"The other pledge, to live on $15,000 a year, is just another attempt to get noticed. If he pledged not to use any of his own money to supplement his living costs, he would soon find that it is not possible. Wages really are too low," responded Andrews.

"If he is still going to live his lifestyle by using his own money, then it's an insult to those in our state and country who are really struggling on those wages to pretend he is living like they are. Carol actually did raise the minimum wage in Congress and signed onto legislation to raise it again," she continued.

O’Connor’s following in the footsteps of the Democratic candidate he endorsed for president, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders has also sworn off super PACs O’Connor was the only Democratic statewide or federal lawmaker or candidate to endorse Sanders, who crushed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by 22 percentage points in last week’s presidential primary.

That endorsement on January 4th was first reported by NH1 News.

O’Connor’s a businessman from New York City who moved to Bedford four years ago. Last summer launched a bid for the Democratic nomination in the state’s 1st congressional district.

O’Connor’s endorsement of Sanders was first reported Sunday morning by NH1 News.

Shea Porter endorsed Clinton a couple of months ago.

O’Connor, a test-prep entrepreneur, has already dropped more than a million dollars of his own money into his bid for the House seat. But he told NH1 News last month that“at the end of the day it’s not about me spending my own money. It’s about the grassroots movement that we have. We have more than 2,000 people who have donated to this campaign, over half of them from New Hampshire who have donated under $200 to this campaign. So we are raising a lot of money from Granite Staters who are ready for change.”

And he added that “I believe that I am the true progressive in this race and I look forward to having many debates in this race, as many debates as Carol Shea Porter would like, because I think that once we put our ideas forward that I will prevail in this.”

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