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AFP, NEA targeted in campaign finance complaint

Last modified: 11/4/2014 7:29:12 PM
The New Hampshire-based Coalition for Open Democracy has filed a complaint against two out-of-state organizations, accusing them of violating the state’s campaign finance law.

In a complaint dated Oct. 23, the coalition said Americans for Prosperity and the National Education Association Advocacy Fund did not register with the New Hampshire secretary of state as required by state law and did not report campaign expenses on time. Both organizations maintain state-level chapters, but the complaint targets their respective headquarters, both based in the Washington, D.C., area.

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s office confirmed it has received a complaint against the organizations and is in the process of reviewing it.

The nonpartisan coalition points to three pieces of mail – two fliers distributed by Americans for Prosperity against Republican state Rep. James Devine, and one flier distributed by NEA Advocacy Fund in support of Democratic state Senate candidate Linda Tanner – as examples of the groups’ political activities that were not reported on time. A New Hampshire resident reported receiving the Americans for Prosperity mail Sept. 8 and the NEA Advocacy Fund mail Oct. 20.

Records available on the secretary of state’s website show that NEA Advocacy Fund is registered with the state, but Americans for Prosperity is not. NEA Advocacy Fund filed expense reports dated Oct. 20, 22, 26 and 27. In the documents from Oct. 20 and 22, the organization says it spent $3,908.37 and $1,955.62 on “design, printing, postage of literature.” The secretary of state’s office said the group’s registration was received Oct. 17.

The Coalition for Open Democracy was founded by campaign finance reform advocate Doris “Granny D” Haddock to address corruption in government, with a focus on the influence of money on government.

“The least we need to do is to be sure we have the right to know who’s spending,” Coalition for Open Democracy Executive Director Daniel Weeks said. “This particular suit won’t solve larger problems, but we think its critical the state enforces the laws around disclosure.”

The coalition says it is planning to release more information on “multiple lesser violations of RSA 664 by organizations filing incomplete or unsigned reports of electioneering expenditures, as well as other campaign finance irregularities by candidates and committees” after Tuesday’s election.

NEA spokesman Miguel Gonzalez said his group learned of the complaint when contacted by the Monitor and asked the Coalition for Open Democracy for a copy.

“We take the state’s campaign finance laws very seriously, and we believe we’re very much in compliance,” Gonzalez wrote in an email. “We will respond accordingly when we have reviewed the complaint.”

Levi Russell, director of public affairs for Americans for Prosperity, dismissed the allegations as “a publicity stunt that is without merit.”

“AFP operates in full compliance with applicable law,” Russell said. “We fully expect this complaint will be dismissed, as all frivolous complaints should be.”

(Casey McDermott can be reached at 369-3306 or cmcdermott@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @caseymcdermott.)


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