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AG: Havenstein violated campaign finance rules

Last modified: 10/18/2014 12:03:03 AM
Walt Havenstein’s campaign violated state campaign finance rules earlier this year but will not face penalties because it has since corrected its errors, the attorney general’s office ruled yesterday.

The political committee for Havenstein’s gubernatorial campaign was registered April 2, but its first campaign contribution – a loan from the candidate – and expense had been made almost a month earlier, Associate Attorney General Richard Head wrote in the ruling. The loan was made March 1, and a payment “for strategic consulting services” was made March 5, according to the ruling.

In doing so, Havenstein’s campaign did not follow state requirements for documenting campaign contributors in its initial filing and should have registered before spending money on the consulting services, the ruling said.

Havenstein’s campaign committee has since “filed an amended report of contributions and expenditures with a corrected list of contributions,” according to the ruling, and will not need to take any additional action at this time.

Gov. Maggie Hassan, the Democratic incumbent whom Havenstein is trying to unseat, has also faced campaign finance violations this year in relation to donations from the Local Union 131 Volunteer PAC and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers PAC. Hassan returned $33,000 to the committees in August.

The attorney general later found, in response to a second complaint, that Local Union 131 Volunteer PAC violated registration and reporting guidelines on contributions to the governor’s 2012 campaign. Hassan did not have to return that money, the attorney general’s office ruled.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party filed the complaint against Havenstein in August. The New Hampshire Republican State Committee filed both complaints against Hassan’s campaign. Both organizations, after the rulings have been released, have swiftly condemned the opposing candidate’s violations as a sign of larger ethical issues.

Havenstein has pledged to take several steps to reform campaign finance in New Hampshire, including addressing what he calls the “Hassan Loophole” – which would impose the same contribution limits on political committees as individuals, according to his website.

In an interview with the Monitor’s editorial board yesterday, conducted before the release of the most recent ruling, Hassan said she has “long supported campaign finance reform in New Hampshire.”

“If some of the folks on the other side of the aisle who have objected to that in the past are now willing to come to the table on it, I’d be happy to work with them on it,” she said.

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


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