Release: The Pay-to-Play Plot Thickens for Governor Maggie Hassan
MANCHESTER - Governor Maggie Hassan has faced a torrent of revelations about her and her administration's willingness to participate in pay-to-play schemes in recent days. But this is nothing new for our governor.In June of 2014, less than a month after putting a freeze on out-of-state travel, Maggie Hassan ignored her own travel ban and went on a taxpayer-funded junket to Turkey. The taxpayers of New Hampshire paid $15,000 in travel costs for the governor and her entourage, but received no economic benefits in return.
Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire led the charge in 2014 criticizing Governor Maggie Hassan for her actions. Our right-to-know requests also successfully forced her administration to give Granite Staters more information than Governor Hassan had originally planned to release to the public.
What we didn't realize at the time was that weeks before leaving for Turkey, two lobbyists from the same firm contributed $12,000 to Governor Maggie Hassan's campaign coffers. Representing the firm, one of the lobbyists then joined her on the trip.
- On May 12, 2014, James Demers, president of the lobbing firm Demers and Blaisdell, Inc., donated $7,000 to Governor Maggie Hassan's campaign.
- Also on May 12, 2014, Robert Blaisdell, senior vice president of the lobbying firm Demers and Blaisdell, ponied up $5,000 to Maggie Hassan's campaign coffers.
- On May 22, 2014, due to a budget shortfall, Governor Maggie Hassan issued an executive order "directing a freeze of Executive Branch hiring, purchasing, equipment, and out-of-state travel to reduce state general fund expenditures."
- Despite harsh criticism from the press and organizations like Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, Governor Maggie Hassan ignored her own travel ban and spent $15,000 of taxpayer money to go on a trade mission to Turkey between June 20 - 27, 2014.
- James Demers joined Governor Maggie Hassan and a handful of business representatives and state employees on the trip to Turkey.
- Hinckley Allen, another lobbying firm represented on the Turkey trip, also had employees who donated a significant amount, with members contributing nearly $7,000 to Hassan mostly in the months that followed the trip.
- While Governor Maggie Hassan's campaign coffers appears to have benefited from the trade mission to Turkey, it seems like taxpayers got nothing for the $15,000 they were forced to cover.
- A year later, the Associated Press reported that "New Hampshire residents [were] sill waiting for results" from the trip. "The trip cost taxpayers $15,000 and included more than 100 matchmaking meetings with businesses, yet no specific deals [were] announced."
Derek Dufresne of Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire stated:
"Pay-to-play is nothing new for Governor Maggie Hassan. This disturbing pattern of selling access to contributors goes back years. Under Maggie Hassan, if you want something from the state government, whether it's a contract, a special favor, or a seat on the plane for a junket to Turkey, the best way to do it is to slip a big check into the Governor's campaign coffers.
"The door to the corner office in Concord is blocked by a toll booth, and the price of the toll is high. The people of New Hampshire are left out, but they're still the ones left with the bill."