Author Archive | William Tucker

N.H. GOP: A criminal subculture of bullying & extortion

An explosive email exchange between New Hampshire GOP chair Jennifer Horn and party treasurer Robert Scott has exposed a profoundly dysfunctional party organization.

The email messages, first reported by James Pindell and published in full by Skip Murphy, document a bitter dispute over Horn’s access to party bank accounts.

The messages begin with Scott accusing Horn of reneging on an agreement not to sign checks on the accounts. Scott claimed they reached the agreement after being advised by the party’s counsel, auditor and insurance agent that Horn’s personal financial troubles could become a liability if she had signing authority.

Horn responded to Scott’s message, not by addressing the issue he raised, but by criticizing Scott for “a pattern of continued FEC mistakes” that occurred during his tenure as party treasurer. “I need to hear from you,” she wrote, “as to what you believe is the best course of action to restore the full faith of the Executive Board and the general membership of our party in the office of Treasurer.”

Things quickly went downhill from there. After several messages defending themselves and attacking the other, Scott denounced Horn for her “attempts to threaten, bully and extort” him to prevent him from performing his duties as treasurer:

I am profoundly disturbed by the criminal quality of this entire affair and the personal abuse that I have had to endure in my attempt to protect the best interest of the NHRSC. The recent development of this criminal subculture of bullying and extortion in our organization … must be openly challenged and cannot be allowed to perpetuate.

These criminals (threats and extortion are illegal) and their thuggery has no place in the NHGOP. If we come to accept this type of psychological violence as standard operating procedure in the NHGOP; what is the next logical step? We are the party of Ronald Reagan not Mario Puzo.

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Portsmouth Herald: ‘O’Brien for Congress is a bad joke’

An editorial in the Portsmouth Herald doesn’t mince words. The paper says the announcement by former state House Speaker Bill O’Brien that he is considering a run for Congress in the 2nd district “is a bad joke:”

O’Brien’s two years as N.H. speaker were some of the most divisive, spiteful and unproductive in recent memory.

As House speaker: he pushed gun laws that would allow felons and the mentally ill to possess weapons in their homes; he tried unsuccessfully to repeal same-sex marriage, which is now the law of the land in New Hampshire and is poised to gain further federal recognition; he worked hard to take away women’s hard-won legal reproductive rights; and he treated with contempt not just Democrats but members of his own party who didn’t drink the same Kool-Aid he was drinking.

O’Brien’s possible candidacy for the Second District Congressional seat serves as a litmus test for whether Republicans learned any lessons in the 2012 elections. Clearly, if he’s nominated, it will be proof that the N.H. GOP didn’t hear the voters’ clear message.

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ICYMI: Wrapped up in the Koch’s web

Grant Bosse recently called me out for noting the Josiah Bartlett Center had received a grant from a Koch brothers’ foundation: A sane person would look at this as a loose connection within the rather small world of public policy think tanks. But the modern left sees it as proof of just how deep the […]

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Kuster charts a ‘bipartisan’ course

2nd District Congresswoman Ann Kuster is one of six House Agriculture Committee Democrats who voted with the Republican majority and approved legislation last week that would deregulate Wall Street derivatives.

Huffington Post reports the proposed legislation “would expand taxpayer support for derivatives and create broad new trading loopholes allowing banks to shirk risk management standards created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank bill:”

Prior to the vote, the top Democrat on the Agricultural Committee, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), gave a speech warning that the legislation could repeat the deregulation debacles of the 1990s.

“You’re putting taxpayers on the hook…. At the time we did the Modernization Act, there were $80 billion in swaps, in derivatives. We gave ‘em legal certainty, we eliminated the regulation requirements, and it went to $700 trillion and it blew up on us. So just be careful: You can vote any way you want, but this could come back and haunt you.”

Kuster’s vote repeats a pattern of siding with House Republicans on key legislation.

Kuster, who represents the more Democratic of the the state’s two congressional districts, was one of 86 Democrats who crossed party lines in January and supported a Republican measure that tied a raise in the debt ceiling to congressional pay.

Kuster said she voted for the measure to “remove the immediate threat of default and ensure that America will continue to meet its obligations.” 1st District Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter voted against the bill. “The debt ceiling should not be tied to any political issue, no matter how desirable the goal may be,” she explained.

In February, Kuster again split with Shea-Porter and joined 43 Democrats who voted with the Republican majority to block a 0.5% pay raise for federal workers. “Leadership should concentrate on closing loopholes and reforming the tax code instead of shrinking middle class wages,” said Shea-Porter.

In a series of budget votes last week, Kuster was one of 35 Democrats who crossed the aisle and voted against the Senate Democratic budget and one of 28 who voted against the House Democratic budget. Kuster said the budget proposals did not “reflect the type of bipartisan compromise that New Hampshire families expect and deserve.”

Shea-Porter supported the Democratic budgets, noting they would “protect the middle class by investing in things like education, transportation, and research and development” and would “reduce the deficit in a balanced manner that closes tax loopholes, replaces sequestration’s irresponsible cuts, keeps our commitment to seniors, and cuts spending through a targeted and steady approach.“

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Joe McQuaid: D.J. Bettencourt a ‘serial liar’

D.J. Bettencourt, the former state House Majority Leader who resigned in disgrace following an academic misconduct scandal, has now been caught plagiarizing a line from Commentary editor John Podhoretz.

Last night, Bettencourt published an essay on New Hampshire Journal that began, “The last time a Roman Catholic Pope resigned, Richard the III was pulling into a very bad parking space in Leicester, England 600 years ago.”

Charlie Perkins, former Union Leader executive editor, responded on Twitter by pointing out the line was stolen from a Podhoretz tweet.

In a laughable attempt to cover up his misdeed, Bettencourt edited his essay — attributing the quote to Podhoretz — and then denied the allegation.

Bullshit,” answered Perkins. “You changed it after my tweet.”

Finally acknowledging his guilt, this morning Bettencourt edited his essay once again, adding this postscript: “NOTE: An early version of this column was posted that did not include attribution to John Podhoretz.”

But that was just the tip of the iceberg. A close reading of the piece turns up another couple of “sources” for Bettencourt’s essay, a Washington Post article by Jason Horowitz:

Horowitz: “The next pope may bring with him an invigorating connection to the Southern Hemisphere, a media magnetism or better leadership skills than the shy and cerebral Benedict.”

Bettencourt: “…whoever the 266th pope is needs to develop an invigorating connection to the Southern Hemisphere, be media savvy and possess better leadership and financial skills than the sometimes shy and cerebral Benedict.”

… and a piece by Seth Nidever in the Hanford Sentinel:

Nidever: “Many priests hope for a charismatic candidate like Pope John Paul II, an electric figure who brought rock-star status and worldwide popularity to the office while triumphantly affirming historical Christian beliefs.”

Bettencourt: “We desperately need a charismatic leader, a modern-version of John Paul II, a charismatic younger figure, who brings worldwide popularity and new ideas to the office while triumphantly affirming historical Christian beliefs in modern society.”

Union Leader publisher Joe McQuaid gets the last word: “Never question [a] serial liar, Charlie.”

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Protesters crash ‘Fix the Debt’ party

Writing in The Nation, Allison Kilkenny previewed the Granite Staters preparing to confront Honeywell CEO David Cote during today’s Fix the Debt forum at St. Anselm College:

Seniors and disabled veterans are planning today to crash a “Fix the Debt” party in New Hampshire hosted by Honeywell CEO David Cote. Fix the Debt, an organization comprised of many of the country’s richest and most powerful CEOs, pushes the case for cutting Social Security and Medicare as well as lowering the corporate income tax rate.

As such, the organization—and subsequent party—caught the eye of the anti–corporate tax-dodging group US Uncut and the new group Flip the Debt. … The two tax accountability groups have organized the protest, which will include seniors and disabled vets sharing their stories about how they survive on programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, then handing over their Social Security checks to Cote.

They will demand that Cote, a spokesperson for Fix the Debt, answer the question: Why are you demanding that we reduce the deficit by cutting critical social programs, when your own company practices tax-dodging that has contributed millions to the national debt?

And crash the party they did.

New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans president Charlie Balban and board member Jane Lang confronted Cote politely:


Flip the Debt’s Mark Provost, not so politely:

Matt Lawrence and I just brought a 'Fix the Debt' conference to a halt, calling out Honeywell CEO and tax dodger David Cote in front of the whole room. As Bernie Sanders said, 'Corporations love America when it comes to corporate welfare, but when it comes to paying taxes, they want nothing to do with this country.'

While I was calling out Honeywell's CEO for paying no taxes, former Congressman Paul William Hodes jumped to the defense of the CEO and yelled at me. What was he doing there anyway, he is totally irrelevant to NH politics now.

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NH House vote: Free State Project vs. Occupy

Today the New Hampshire House rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have required a super-majority vote by both chambers of the legislature to raise taxes or fees.

CACR 1 was defeated by a 149-206 vote. The only Democrat voting in favor of the amendment was Free Stater Rep. Tim O’Flaherty. Rep. Tim Smith, a Manchester Democrat who identifies with the Occupy movement, spoke in opposition and called out “those who would seek to dismantle our government entirely:”

This bill is pure obstructionism. Nothing more, nothing less. When we go back to our districts and have constituents express frustration that the government can’t get anything done, this bill – that we are about to vote on – is a perfect example of what they are frustrated about.

Trying to make it even harder for government to do it’s job, and giving huge power to the minority party if they so seek to obstruct routine functions of the general court, is an absurd model.

We have no idea what the future holds for the Granite State. … Making it harder to fund the state only serves the interests of those who would seek to dismantle our government entirely….

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The breathtaking audacity of Jennifer Horn

In a statement opposing Medicaid expansion, New Hampshire Republican Party chair Jennifer Horn declared “we should not abandon good NH programs like CHINS in deference to a federal mandate that will not even be funded.”

Horn, who has a record of rewriting history when it gets in the way of her ideological narrative, blithely ignores the fact that the Republican legislature slashed the CHINS budget to the bone in 2011.

Children in Need of Services (CHINS), which provides services to children with behavioral problems before they escalate to criminal conduct, was one of the most controversial cuts included in the 2012-2013 budget.

The O’Brien-led House proposed eliminating the program entirely before the Senate added back just enough money to handle the most severe cases. The program, which previously helped about 1,000 children a year, now serves only 50.

In the new Legislature, where the Democrats control the House,” writes Ben Leubsdorf, “the CHINS program is getting a fresh look.”

Will Jennifer Horn support Democratic efforts to reinstate the CHINS budget? I’m not holding my breath.

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Foster’s: Free Staters seek to take over our way of life

When state House Rep. Cynthia Chase called the Free State Project “the single biggest threat the state is facing today,” the right-wing media machine geared up to attack. But something got lost in translation. “A New Hampshire legislator wants her constituents to know that she feels conservatives are the ‘single biggest threat’ her state faces […]

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