New Hampshire Democrats Want More Answers From Guinta

By John Celock

In the wake of U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.) being fined by the Federal Election Commission for illegal donations from his parents, Granite State Democrats want more answers.

During a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon organized by the state Democratic Party, former New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairwoman Kathy Sullivan said that Guinta should give more information about the funds and his past behavior. Guinta’s campaign was fined $15,000 by the FEC Tuesday for accepting $355,000 in donations from his parents. The campaign also has to repay the funds.

“There are many more questions that he needs to answer,” Sullivan said on the call.

Guinta said that the funds were part of a family bank account that he has paid into and had a stake in. He had previously said that he had not accepted funds from his parents.

Guinta, a former Manchester mayor, has been dodged by issues surrounding the account since his first election in 2010, including saying in the past that he did not remember having the account. Guinta was first elected in 2010, defeating Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.), only to lose to Shea-Porter in 2012. Guinta would defeat Shea-Porter again in 2014.

Shea-Porter has questioned Guinta’s campaign finance in the past, asking if he took funds from his parents for his campaign, which he denied in those races. Sullivan noted on Thursday’s call that a 2010 Republican primary opponent had raised questions on the impact the funds had on that primary.

Andrew Werbrock, an election law attorney with Perkins Coie in Washington, said on the call that the FEC action was significant. Werbrock said he was not being paid by the state Democratic Party to participate in the call.

“This is a pretty significant matter. The congressman agreed to pay a civil penalty of $15,000 which is sizeable,” Werbrock said. “The campaign will also refund the $355,000 loan and the campaign is banned from being enjoined in this type of activity in the future.”

Sullivan said that she would like to see from Guinta documents that prove the funds he used from the account were his own. She noted that former state Republican Party Chairman Fergus Cullen had asked for the documents several years ago.

Guinta on Tuesday blamed the error on difficulty with handling campaign finance regulations.

“In 2010, I loaned my campaign money; and, in the course of navigating the bureaucracy of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) as a first time candidate, I made an inadvertent error on the financial disclosure form,” Guinta said in a statement reported by the Union Leader.