Ayotte, Hassan clash over ‘People’s Pledge’ in NH Senate race

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/02/16/ayotte-hassan-clash-over-peoples-pledge-in-nh-senate-race/

CONCORD, N.H. – The “People’s Pledge,” conjured up by then-U.S. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, attempted to curb outside influence over the Bay State’s 2012 Senate race.  Today, New Hampshire’s Republican senator Kelly Ayotte is attempting to breathe new life into the pledge in her race for reelection against challenger Maggie Hassan, New Hampshire’s Democratic governor who seeks to oust Ayotte from the Senate.  

On Sunday, Ayotte wrote a column in the New Hampshire Union Leader accusing Hassan of making false accusations and slamming the Granite state’s governor for not agreeing to curb the influence of outside money in their highly competitive race.

“We owe it to the people of New Hampshire to have an honest discussion of our respective records and stand behind the ads run on our behalf,” Ayotte said in her column.   “But excessive spending by third party special interest groups threatens to undermine the meaningful debate that New Hampshire citizens expect and deserve.”

The senator said she had asked the governor to sign the pledge “to keep third party spending out of this race and keep the focus on New Hampshire priorities.”

In the 2012 Massachusetts Senate campaign between Brown and his successful opponent, Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren, both candidates agreed that if outside groups ran television spots in the race, the candidate who benefitted from the commercial would donate half the cost to charity. The version that Ayotte has asked Hassan to sign would apply to radio and online advertising as well.

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, also proposed a People’s Pledge in her 2014 re-election battle with Brown, after he moved to the Granite State to run against her. But, that time, Brown declined.

In her column, Ayotte said:

Since announcing her run, Gov. Hassan has repeatedly spoken out against third party special interest groups, and she has falsely accused me of standing with them despite my strong bipartisan record of delivering results for New Hampshire families. If she is genuinely concerned about the impact of third party special interest groups, she will join me in signing this pledge to keep them out of this race.

Instead of agreeing to the pledge, Ayotte said Hassan responded first with delays.

Now,” Ayotte wrote, “she’s trying to change the subject with a new proposal, rather than sign the same agreement that was good enough for Jeanne Shaheen and Elizabeth Warren.”

In an interview with ABC-affiliate WMUR-TV that aired Monday, Hassan said she had returned a strengthened, signed pledge to Ayotte last week but believed the senator would insist on her original proposal. Hassan added a $15 million campaign spending cap for each candidate in her response.

Ayotte’s expected stance “is the way Washington works, but not the way we work in New Hampshire, where we actually talk to each other and try to improve things,” Hassan said.

“What I hear from the people of New Hampshire is how frustrated they are with the system in Washington, where it seems like special interests control everything, run the show, to make sure special interests are taken care of at the expense of middle class families. I think that’s wrong.”

In her Sunday column, Ayotte accused the governor of engaging in misdirection.

“Gov. Hassan’s new proposal is politician speak for ‘I do not want to sign the People’s Pledge,’” the senator wrote.

“Her decision to totally change the intent of the People’s Pledge is an attempt to kill it,” Ayotte added. “I have already signed the People’s Pledge and if Gov. Hassan is serious about keeping out millions in third party special interest group spending, she will change her mind and sign it too.”

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or on Twitter @karabettis.