Candidates sign AFP pledge to cut taxes, oppose Obamacare

Last modified: 7/31/2014 1:00:53 AM
More than 200 candidates for state office have signed onto an Americans for Prosperity pledge saying they’ll cut taxes, fight to pass a right to work law and oppose Medicaid expansion.

Americans for Prosperity is a politically active non-profit backed by the Koch Brothers that fights for smaller government and individual freedoms. The state chapter, Americans for Prosperity Foundation - New Hampshire, held an event today to highlight candidates who have signed the pledge, including Republican gubernatorial candidate Andrew Hemingway. His primary opponent Walt Havenstein also plans to sign the pledge, his campaign said, but could not attend today’s event due to a fundraiser in Virginia.

The pledge was mailed out last Wednesday and candidates can still turn it in. The pledge includes five promises: Cut taxes and oppose tax increases, cut spending and the size of government, pass a right to work law, oppose Obamacare and Medicaid expansion and to uphold the state and federal constitutions. A key purpose of the pledge is creating accountability, state director Greg Moore said.

Incumbent Republican Sens. David Boutin of Hooksett and Nancy Stiles of Hampton signed a similar pledge last year but later voted for Medicaid expansion and to increase the gas tax. AFP has already sent out direct mail pieces telling voters that both candidates broke the pledge while in office, Moore said.

“Those of us here today hold principles that do not have a Nov. 4, 2014, expiration date,” said former House Speaker Bill O’Brien, a Mont Vernon Republican who was named AFP New Hampshire’s Conservative of the Year in April.

Neither Boutin nor Stiles has signed the pledge yet this year, but their Republican primary opponents, Jane Cormier and Steve Kenda, have. Reached by phone yesterday, Boutin said he hasn’t yet received the pledge so he hasn’t decided whether to sign it. Stiles also said she has to go through the pledge before deciding whether to sign it. She opposes a sales or income tax but said the Senate needs to be open to assessing user fees and deciding whether slight changes are necessary. She also noted that the majority of the Senate Republican caucus, seven senators, voted for the Medicaid expansion.

Sitting Republican senators who have already signed the pledge include Sens. John Reagan of Deerfield, Sam Cataldo of Farmington and Russell Prescott of Kingston. A total of 18 Republican state Senate candidates have signed it. Moore said he hasn’t gone through all of the papers yet so he does not know if any Democratic candidates have signed the pledge.

The pledge is mainly for state candidates, but it is sent to federal candidates as well. U.S. Senate candidate Bob Smith is the only federal candidate to sign it so far, Moore said.

In a press release earlier this week, the New Hampshire Democratic Party said that Havenstein’s and Hemingway’s decision to sign the pledge meant they were showing allegiance to “the Tea Party agenda” and loyalty to the Koch Brothers.

But AFP-NH honorary chairman Tom Thomson said the pledge grew out of the no sales or income tax pledge created years ago his grandfather, former Governor Meldrim Thomson.

“This pledge originated from Gov. Thomson, and I chose to carry that forward,” he said. “And this pledge was not written by the Koch Brothers. It was written by myself.”

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or or on Twitter @kronayne.)

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