A low-profile Indiana nonprofit is taking to the airwaves in New England, attacking New Hampshire Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan with a million dollar ad blitz in Granite State markets slated to begin Monday. Political disclosure forms show the ads will focus on Hassan’s “increased spending, taxes and fees.”
Hassan, who defeated Republican Walt Havenstein by five percent of the vote in 2014, isn’t up for re-election until next year, and most of the ads in New Hampshire have focused on presidential contenders — making Impact America’s purchase a standout. A super PAC supporting former New York Gov. George Pataki and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign committee are both snatching up air time in the market of the first-in-the-nation primary, while two hawkish conservative groups, the Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America and the American Security Initiative, have also aired ads aimed at federal issues.
Mike Dennehy, a GOP consultant in New Hampshire, told Sunlight that early ads attacking Hassan coincides with the budget process in the state and that the ads will be strictly focused on the gubernatorial race.
As for the money behind the group, that’s where things get murky. As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, Impact America isn’t required to publicly disclose its donors as a campaign committee would. And individuals that work for the nonprofit group are keeping mum.
Joseph Vanderhulst, a conservative lawyer based out of Plainfield, Ind., is listed as a member of the group’s executive committee on a political disclosure to station WCVB in Needham, Mass. But he told Sunlight that information is incorrect, that his firm mostly provides “bookkeeping work” for the nonprofit and that he didn’t recognize the other names listed in the disclosure.
Dennehy, who is also listed as an executive committee member on the form, told Sunlight that he “is not at that level” in the organization, when asked to disclose the group’s donors. He added that he was not aware of plans for Impact America to spend on other races.
Updated 6/8: This post has been updated with a statement from New Hampshire Democratic Party Press Secretary Aaron Jacobs:
Governor Hassan has made the tough decisions to responsibly balance the budget without a sales or income tax while investing in the critical economic priorities that will expand middle class opportunity, help innovative businesses create jobs and keep New Hampshire’s economy moving forward.
Meanwhile, New Hampshire Senate Republicans are pushing an unbalanced budget that’s filled with gimmicks and would blow a $90 million hole in the budget for tax giveaways to big, out-of-state businesses at the expense of New Hampshire businesses and families. Granite Staters won’t be fooled by misleading attacks – that have been debunked by Politifact – from an out-of-state dark money group that’s trying to distract from the fact that Senate Republicans’ unbalanced budget would hurt small businesses and middle class families while taking New Hampshire’s economy backward.