Just before September’s primary, former state Republican party boss Fergus Cullen had this to say about first district congressional candidate Frank Guinta:
Guinta is a deeply flawed candidate. I don’t believe his vague and shifting explanations about the origins of the $355,000 he lent his campaign (he says he forgot he had the money) or how he’s being paid now for consulting on a senate campaign in Louisiana. He’s not being honest. The Republican Party cannot afford to risk nominating a candidate who is one subpoena away from a full-blown scandal. Shea-Porter wants to run against Guinta again; after all, she beat him last time.
Republicans voters ignored Cullen’s warning and nominated Guinta, a former Tea Party Congressman from the red wave of 2010 who campaigned on abolishing Social Security and, once in office, voted to voucherize Medicare.
It didn’t take long for Democrats to notice what an error first district conservatives made in nominating Guinta. This new ad is now running:
So what is this all about?
Very simple, actually. Back in 2010, candidate Frank Guinta loaned his campaign money multiple times, adding up to $355,000. Candidates, remember, can loan their campaigns any amount of money, but supporters are bound by strict limits, a mere fraction of such a sum.
Reporters noticed that, given Guinta’s career thus far from alderman to insurance industry employee to mayor of Manchester, it was extremely unlikely that he was the source of this money, even when accounting for a few modestly successful real estate deals. The implication, then, is that someone else was. If true, that would be illegal.
Influential New Hampshire Republicans saw this scandal coming in 2010 and unsuccessfully tried to stop it before Guinta, a Tea Party favorite back when that was a thing, became the nominee.
State Senator, and former US Congressman, Jeb Bradley:
“If there’s not a satisfactory explanation,” Guinta “absolutely,” should drop out, Bradley told POLITICO…“I think it’s very damaging … how you forget something like that is just pretty hard to explain. The average person wouldn’t forget,” Bradley said. “If you were Warren Buffett, possibly.”
And former NHGOP Chair Fergus Cullen:
…Frank Guinta quietly amended his financial disclosure report to list a mysterious bank account valued between $250,000 and $500,000. Guinta failed to report the existence of this account on not one but two previous financial disclosure reports.
Guinta says he simply forgot about the account. Would you forget about a bank account containing between $250,000 and $500,000?
If Guinta is telling the truth – that he had this money all along and simply forgot to report it – he can prove it easily. All he needs to do is release bank statements on the mystery account going back two years. That Guinta has declined to do this speaks volumes.
Candidate Guinta went on to win the 2010 primary and general election. Congressman Guinta either wouldn’t or couldn’t produce a simple bank statement to end the matter once and for all, went silent on the matter, hoping it would go away. Complaints were filed with the FEC by members of both political parties. A case number was assigned. Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington compiled a detailed summary of the case, causing them to label Guinta one of Congress’ “Most Corrupt.” NHPR did a definitive investigative report on the implausibility that Guinta is telling the truth about the $355,000.
So here we are, four years later. Guinta still will not produce a copy of a bank statement that would make this go away once and for all. The FEC, dysfunctional by design, has been quiet despite what looks like an open and shut case of campaign finance corruption in front of them.
If the IRS or a US Attorney were to get involved, Fergus Cullen’s warning could come true. All it would take is one subpoena for this to turn into a full-blown scandal. It would likely torpedo his campaign, or, if elected, send his Congressional career into disgrace and ruin.
The election is one month away.