We have now uploaded all of the exhibits provided to the Attorney General’s Office and provided a receipt showing the time and date of delivery. Thank you for your patience. ~Publius
September 2, 2016
Attorney General Joseph Foster
New Hampshire Department of Justice
33 Capitol Street
Concord, NH 03301
Delivered in hand
I am writing to request you investigate what appears to be illegal campaign coordination per RSA 664:2 between the Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) and the gubernatorial campaigns of Republican Jeanie Forrester and Democrat Colin Van Ostern. At the core of the complaint is the Concord lobbying firm Dennehy & Bouley, owned by paid Forrester for Governor consultant Michael Dennehy, a Republican, and Van Ostern for Governor supporter and contributor Mayor Jim Bouley, a Democrat.
Here are the actions and the dates on which my complaint is based:
- On August 18, 2016, SCAN announced its endorsements of gubernatorial candidates Colin Van Ostern and Jeanie Forrester in two separate press releases. (Exhibit A and Exhibit B)
- On August 24th and 30th and September 2nd, SCAN filed documents with the New Hampshire Secretary of State reporting $305,558.32 in independent expenditures in support of Van Ostern and Forrester’s candidacies. (Exhibit C1, Exhibit C2 & Exhibit C3)
- Importantly, among other expenditures the 8/24 report included $50,500.00 for a “research survey” on the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial primaries conducted by TargetPoint Consulting Inc. of Alexandria, VA.
- Save The Children Action Network lists its address as 17 Depot Street, Suite 3, Concord NH as its address on these forms.
My wife, a registered Republican who always votes in party primaries, has received two Save the Children Action Network mail pieces supporting the election of Sen. Forrester. Both include a political disclaimer that reads: “Paid for by Save the Children Action Network. Not Authorized by Any Candidate or Candidate Committee” and includes the same 17 Depot Street, Suite 3, Concord NH address. (Exhibit D1 & Exhibit D2)
According to its website, the lobbying firm Dennehy & Bouley, is located at 17 Depot Street, Suite 3, Concord, NH (Exhibit E). And, as disclosed in reporting forms on file in the Secretary of State’s office, both Bouley and Alex Koutroubas, an employee of Dennhey & Bouley are registered lobbyists for Save the Children Action Network (Exhibit F).
Mr. Dennhey has been quoted in numerous media reports as a paid consultant and spokesman for the Forrester for Governor campaign. In my capacity as a radio talk show host, I have received numerous press releases from Mr. Dennehy about Sen. Forrester’s campaign. According to a campaign finance report filed with the Secretary of State on August 24th, 2016, the Forrester for Governor Campaign paid “The Dennehy Group” $33,598.15 for “signage” and “consulting.” The Dennehy Group also lists its address as the same 17 Depot Street, Concord, NH address used by Dennehy & Bouley and SCAN (Exhibit G, see last page in report).
In an August 23, 2016 WMUR.com article (Exhibit H), Mr. Dennehy touts an internal Forrester for Governor campaign poll of 2,850 likely primary voters. WMUR reports that despite circulating this information to the media, “Dennehy declined to identify the pollster.”
A review of Forrester’s campaign finance report shows no polling expenditures. Given that, it seems more than likely that Dennehy, a paid consultant for Forrester campaign, leaked the TargetPoint Consulting poll conducted by his firm’s client, Save the Children Action Network, as an “independent expenditure.”
Councilor Van Ostern lists Mayor Bouley as a public supporter of and donor to his gubernatorial campaign (Exhibit I1 and Exhibit I2 see page 27). Mayor Bouley is a registered lobbyist for Save the Children Action Network and his firm is located at the same address listed on its independent expenditure report on behalf of the Van Ostern Campaign.
As you know, RSA 664:2 Part XI states that: “’Independent expenditures’’ means expenditures that pay for the development and distribution of a communication that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate or candidates or the success or defeat of a measure or measures, which are made without cooperation or consultation with any candidate, or any authorized committee or agent of such candidate, and which are not made in concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, any candidate, or any authorized committee or agent of such candidate.”
With all this, it would seem to strain credulity to believe that the Forrester and Van Ostern campaigns are acting independently of the Save the Children Action Network. Are we to believe that Mr. Dennehy, a paid consultant of the Forrester campaign and Mayor Bouley, a public supporter of the Van Ostern campaign, whose firm has been retained by the Save the Children Action Network that lists their firm’s address as their own, are somehow not aware of their own activities and, therefore, not violating the statute prohibiting campaign coordination? Mr. Dennehy’s action in leaking an internal primary poll to the media, despite his candidate not having paid for any polling, certainly calls into question whether or not he is illegally using information from his other client, Save the Children Action Network, which, of course, is supporting the gubernatorial candidacy that has him on the payroll.
Again, in asking that you act swiftly to investigate this matter, I also ask you direct SCAN to cease and desist from any and all campaign activities in support of their endorsed candidates for governor to preserve the integrity of the upcoming gubernatorial primaries here in the Granite State.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Exhibits C: SAVE THE CHILDREN REPORT
Exhibits D: MAILERS
Exhibit E: DENNEHY AND BOULEY WEBSITE
EXHIBIT F: LOBBYING FORMS
EXHIBIT G: FORRESTER FILING
EXHIBIT I2: Van Ostern filing showing Bouley contributions