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Feb 16, 2016 10:41 PM

Steinhauser: O'Connor says no to PAC and super PAC $$; urges Shea-Porter to do likewise

NH1 News Political Director

MANCHESTER – Congressional candidate Shawn O’Connor’s highlighting that “I will take no PAC contributions from any PAC, no super PAC support, and no exceptions.”

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, arguing that “Shea-Porter has taken more than $1.8 million from DC special interest PACs and I just don’t think that’s consistent with the New Hampshire way.”

Shea-Porter’s campaign fired back, saying “Carol's primary opponent is trying to get noticed,” and alleging that O’Connor “has said he's prepared to spend millions to buy this seat.”

O’Connor returned fire, saying he never said he wanted to “buy” the seat.

O’Connor made his announcement Tuesday morning in an email release that was first reported by NH1 News.

Later, speaking one-on-one with NH1 News, O’Connor said he made his move “because I think that I’m only going to take campaign contributions from real living breathing human beings, doing it the old fashioned way.”

“I don’t want any financial backing from any PAC or any super PAC and I will work as hard as I can to discourage that,” he added.

In his statement, 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’s a test-prep entrepreneur from New York City who actually moved to Bedford four years ago. Last summer launched a bid for the Democratic nomination in the state’s 1st congressional district.

Minimum wage salary

O’Connor also announced on Tuesday that 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.”

“I believe in a $15 minimum wage and I think it’s absolutely immoral for me to say I’m going to take a $174,000 salary as a congressman and tell other Americans ‘it’s OK to live on $15,800 a year. So until we enact legislation, and this may go on for years and years, as long as it takes to enact legislation, even if it means sleeping in my office, I will only will only accept the minimum wage salary of $15,800 a year until we enact a minimum wage of $15 for all Americans,” O’Connor told NH1 News.

“And the remainder, the other $159,000 will be donated to Granite State charities by a citizens commission. I’ll have no say over the charities that receive the grants. I want the citizens, it’s their money, they should decide where it goes,” he added.

He’s also challenging Shea-Porter to follow suit.

O’Connor told NH1 News that “actions speak louder than words. And we’ve heard a lot of words from Carol Shea-Porter over the years. It’s been this revolving door of Carol and Frank Guinta. Both of them very tied to the special interests PAC community in Washington. And I think if you stand for a minimum wage, you should work for a minimum wage. If you stand for clean elections, you should run a clean election and I challenge her to both of those.”

Andrews responded, saying "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.”

"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.

Support from Sanders supporters

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. Shea-Porter endorsed Clinton a couple of months ago.

O’Connor told NH1 News that the Sanders endorsement is now paying dividends as he runs for Congress.

“On the ground here in New Hampshire we’re seeing numerous volunteers, Facebook followers, Twitter followers, who are flocking to us because I stood with Sen. Sanders and made that principled decision. And in terms of fundraising we’re seeing people from across the nation, these are small donations, $5 or $10. But I believe that’s how a campaign should be run. And so they’re donating to us little by little but word is getting out across the country that I was the only one in New Hampshire who stood with Sen. Sanders among federal and statewide candidates and officials,” O’Connor said.

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