Sununu vetoes election finance reform bills 

Monitor staff
Published: 7/10/2019 6:03:43 PM

Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed a series of Democratically-backed election finance reform laws Wednesday, blocking attempts at increased transparency and oversight while citing free speech considerations.

As part of a batch of 42 bills signed and 10 vetoed, Sununu struck down Senate Bill 156, a bill supporters said would close the “LLC loophole.” That bill would remove the ability for members of limited liability companies to donate to candidates through their LLC without hitting individual contribution limits. The legislation would require those donations to attach to the donors’ names, imposing a de facto cap; it would also subject those LLCs whose members donate to public disclosures of members.

Sununu said it would lead to a “chilling of political speech” and business development, arguing it would force LLC owners to decide whether to donate to political campaigns or remain anonymous.

He also struck down a bill, SB 106, that would broaden who counts as a political advocacy organization — and is thus subject to greater disclosure.

And the veto list included SB 68, a bill to allow the voter registration database to be shared by request of a court order – a bill that would have significantly affected a lawsuit against a 2017 voting bill working its way through the Hillsborough Superior Court.

Plaintiffs in that lawsuit, lodged against Senate Bill 3, have been unsuccessfully seeking access to the state voting rolls to attempt to demonstrate that the law has affected voting turnout. Sununu said sharing the info could erode confidence in the vote. “Voters need to have confidence that when they share confidential information, it remains confidential,” the governor wrote in his veto message.

The governor also vetoed House Bill 504, which would call on Congress to support a U.S. constitutional amendment to increase regulation over “role of money in elections and governance.” That bill, he said, was “part of a national campaign designed to overturn constitutional protections of free speech” and represented more of the Legislature attempting to stifle speech from those they disagree with.

In a statement, Democratic majority leader Dan Feltes, a Concord Democrat, slammed the vetoes on the bills, many of which he had lead, accusing Sununu of siding “with corporate special interests.” “Governor Sununu is holding New Hampshire back from making meaningful progress on campaign finance reform and transparency in elections,” Feltes said. 

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