In August 2022, a Massachusetts mail shop represented by Hillary Clinton’s attorney dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegal mailers into the New Hampshire GOP primary in the 2nd Congressional District. The mailers, which violated state and federal law, were part of a $44 million national Democratic strategy to interfere in GOP primaries.
More than 14 months later — and with the 2024 GOP primary season approaching — New Hampshire’s top cop has taken no action, even as Democrats eye the Republican primary for governor. And critics say if they can do it illegally and without consequence, why not?
The facts of the case aren’t in dispute. In the final weeks of the 2022 Republican primary in the 2nd Congressional District, voters were hit with a wave of political mailers promoting Bob Burns as the most Trump-friendly candidate in the race. The mailers also accused his mainstream GOP competitor, Keene Mayor George Hansel, of not supporting the former president — a key issue to Republican primary voters.
The mailer worked. Hansel, viewed as the strongest Republican to take on U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster and endorsed by Gov. Chris Sununu, was defeated by underfunded MAGA candidate Burns. Kuster handily defeated Burns 56-44 percent in November.
However, as NHJournal reported at the time, those mailers were sent to GOP primary voters not by New Hampshire Republicans but by Reynolds DeWalt, a Democratic political mail shop based in New Bedford, Mass., that has printed products for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
Voters had no way of knowing that because the illegal mailers had no disclosures of any kind, a clear violation of state and federal election laws.
Yet more than a year later, no charges have been filed, and no actions have been announced by New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella or any other law enforcement agency. And while the state Republican Party filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission in September 2022, the agency declined to answer any questions about whether or not an investigation is even underway.
Granite State Republicans fear the lack of enforcement means even more illegal Democratic campaign material will pour into the 2024 primaries, particularly for governor.
Formella claims his office is actively investigating the mailers, telling WFEA radio host Drew Cline in a recent interview that he is on the job.
“That [case] remains under active investigation; I’ve spent a fair amount of time on it myself because I feel it’s important,” Formella said. “The challenge is when you’re trying to investigate across state lines, getting subpoenas domesticated, getting documents, getting people to sit for interviews, it takes time. My goal is to take the strongest action possible.”
One obstacle may be the mail shop’s legal counsel, notorious Democratic operative Marc Elias, who has worked for the Democratic National Committee since 2009 and also worked for the presidential campaigns for Vice President Kamala Harris. However, Elias is best known for helping his client, the Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign, fund the now-debunked “Steele Dossier” promoting the so-called “Russia Collusion” hoax.
Plus, any federal investigation would involve the Biden administration’s Department of Justice, which may lack motivation to take down political actors inside the president’s own party.
And then there is the Massachusetts problem.
Sources tell NHJournal that any New Hampshire investigation involving out-of-state political mischief by Bay State players would go through the office of progressive Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell. Campbell’s partisan activism is no secret; she is viewed as a rising star in the Democratic Party. The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office is often used as a springboard for higher office. Current Democratic Gov. Maura Healey launched her gubernatorial campaign after winning her second term as attorney general.
Campbell’s ability to influence an investigation creates, at the very least, the appearance of a conflict of interest. Formella’s office declined to say what kind of cooperation it is getting from Massachusetts officials, if any. Campbell’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The Democratic Party’s strategy of promoting weak Republican candidates in GOP primaries in 2022 paid off, particularly in New Hampshire. In the 2nd District race, Burns spent less than $16,000 in primary ads, while the Democrats Serve PAC spent $562,000 boosting his candidacy to GOP voters.
In the U.S. Senate race, MAGA Republican Don Bolduc’s ad spend was an anemic $33,760. But Democrats spent more than $3 million helping him defeat former state Senate President Chuck Morse. Bolduc lost to the incumbent Democrat, Sen. Maggie Hassan, by nine points.
Burns has spoken publicly about entering the GOP gubernatorial primary, where Morse and former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte are already running. Even if he doesn’t, it is possible a Trump win in the presidential primary contest would inspire a MAGA Republican to enter the race and represent the activist base of the party. And thanks to Democrats, that MAGA candidate might not need to raise a penny to mount a competitive race.
Thus far, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office has done nothing to prevent that. Instead, Formella is already hinting his office may take no action at all despite the clearly illegal conduct of the Democrats.
“My goal is to take the strongest action we can,” he told Cline. But he added that, “at a minimum, we will issue reports to the public about exactly what happened.”