New Hampshire’s state GOP has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission over a series of illegal mailers sent by a Massachusetts-based Democratic marketing firm targeting voters in the Second Congressional District Republican primary.
The complaint names “Reynolds DeWalt Corporation, a Democrat-aligned mail firm that is a sophisticated, multi-million dollar, seven-decade-old company with scores of employees” in New Bedford, Mass.
As first reported by NHJournal, Reynolds DeWalt sent out the four mailers promoting far-right Trump supporter Bob Burns in the GOP primary, helping him defeat mainstream GOP candidate Mayor George Hansel of Keene. Burns, who won 33 percent of the vote, beat Hansel by less than 1,800 votes.
After Burns’ victory, the Cook Political Report moved the NH-02 race from the “toss-up” category to “leans Democrat.”
According to the complaint, the mailers are illegal because they “failed to identify in the mailers who sent them, including a failure to provide ‘paid for by’ disclaimers on multiple mass mailings.”
“These mailers were obviously intended to appear as being generated by or for a Republican candidate or Republican political committee campaign, and the choice not to provide the disclaimer was in furtherance of this deceptive scheme,” the complaint contends. “It’s just the latest ‘dirty tricks’ efforts by Democrats to deceptively meddle in Republican primaries.”
The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office has publicly confirmed the mailers lacked legally-required disclosures.
Across the country, Democrats spent an estimated $50 million on GOP primary candidates this year, hoping to pick their opponents before the general election. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) spent more than $3 million attacking Republican U.S. Senate candidate Chuck Morse here in New Hampshire, who lost the nomination to retired Gen. Don Bolduc by just over 1 percent of the vote.
The Attorney General’s Office contacted Reynolds DeWalt about the mailers before the primary. It refused to tell the attorney general who paid for them. The company is represented by the law firm of Hillary Clinton’s former attorney Marc Elias, the attorney responsible for funding and disseminating the debunked “Steele Dossier” that helped feed the false claim of collusion between Russia and the Trump 2016 presidential campaign.
Attorney Bill O’Brien, the former New Hampshire Speaker of the House who is representing the state party, said the complaint’s goal is to “kick over this political rock and see what crawls out.”
“It’s one thing for the Reynolds DeWalt to get a slap on the wrist and pay a fine. They know they’ll get an enhanced payment in the future to cover it. It’s another thing if you can find people who are behind it, behind the ‘dirty tricks’ strategy. Marc Elias has already been sanctioned by a federal court because of lack of candor. If it turns out he or someone like him is behind a pattern of illegal behavior, then at the very least the FEC should sanction those responsible.
GOP state chairman Steve Stepanek said the action is necessary to stop this sort of illegal campaign activity from becoming a regular part of New Hampshire elections. If the Democrats get away with it this time, he asks, what with they do next?
“The only way to get the attention of these people is if a mail house gets fined enough times and faces enough sanctions. Maybe next time they’ll say, ‘Yeah, we need the proper disclosures before we mail this out.'”
The party’s filings also include a request for a protective order from the FEC for individual voters who come forward to join the complaint. O’Brien says the protection is needed because “rank-and-file Republicans are worried about speaking out publicly,” due to the rhetoric from Democrats like President Joe Biden.
“I’ve had people tell me they’re afraid to go public,” O’Brien said. “I mean, look at that speech Biden gave the other day, with all of his ‘Ultra MAGA’ talk and calling people enemies of the state. It was a speech Mussolini could have given, with this red backdrop and the military behind him.”
Rep. Annie Kuster has never condemned the illegal GOP primary mailers sent by Democrats to boost her re-election bid.
As for their interference in the 2022 Republican primaries, O’Brien had a message for Democrats: “Be careful what you wish for.”
O’Brien noted a new UNH poll showing Burns just three points behind Kuster. “Bob Burns has a darn good chance of winning. And if he does, Democrats will have helped send a real, Trump-supporting Republican to Washington, D.C.”