In the wake of a complaint filed Monday by seven Republican members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, Open Democracy Executive Director Olivia Zink urged state officials to “hold all political organizations to the same standard.”
“Granite Staters are tired of having out-of-state organizations tell us how we should vote,” Zink said. “It’s even more offensive when the group sidesteps political disclosure laws by calling themselves a nonprofit organization.”
“We commend the Representatives who have asked for this review. New Hampshire voters have a right to know who is spending money to influence our elections,” she said.
“If a group is targeting specific candidates, either for or against, they ought to register and report their donors and spending. It’s that simple,” Zink said. “Comply with our state laws: let the public know whose money is being spent to influence elections.”
“We hope the Attorney General and Secretary of State will take a critical look at these mailings and ensure that the public can learn whose donations are paying for them,” she said. “We also encourage voters to question these groups and their messages. There are so many organizations with patriotic-sounding names, these days; but you don’t really know who’s behind them. Voters don’t need to believe everything they read – particularly if they don’t know the source of the money behind the mailing or attack.”
The seven Representatives have asked the Attorney General and Secretary of State to review recent mailings by Americans for Prosperity because, according to their complaint:
We believe that AFP is misusing their non-profit 501(c)(4) social welfare status by engaging in targeted political attack advertisements against many NH state representatives and/or candidates that have opposed AFP endorsed bills, including “Right to Work”. We believe that AFP is intentionally avoiding the reporting requirements of NH RSA 664 by registering as a social welfare organization while acting in fact as a political committee by targeting individual public officials and/or candidates that do not support the AFP agenda. We believe groups acting as a political committee must register as a political committee and comply with NH RSA 664.
The full document is available here.
Open Democracy’s latest poll shows 54% of Republicans and 55% of Democrats think ‘Big Money’ is a ‘major problem’ in New Hampshire elections; and only 12%, in both parties, believe voters have more influence than special interests.