Brian Wallstin

Digital Journalist

Brian has more than 20 years of experience in journalism.  He has done in-depth investigative reporting for a variety of publications, including The Houston Press where he was a staff writer for more than eight years.  As Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri, he taught and mentored undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Journalism.  He has held several editorial positions, including four and a half years as City Editor for  the Columbia Missourian, and has been a contributor to NHPR.org, notably during the 2012 elections.    Brian has a B.J. from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.  

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Scott Brown wasn't even an official candidate when he declined to agree to a "people's pledge" to limit the amount of outside spending in the New Hampshire Senate race.

Six months later, with Brown expected to win the Republican nomination in Tuesday’s primary, more than half of the $19.1 million spent on the New Hampshire race has come from outside groups.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Five days before the primary, more than $3.1 million has been spent on behalf of Republican candidates seeking to advance to the general election against New Hampshire’s Congressional incumbents.

In District 2, a seat held by Democratic Rep. Anne Kuster, Gary Lambert has outspent state Rep. Marilinda Garcia by a slight margin, $277,000 to $239,860, according to the most recent filings with the Federal Election Commission.

For months, Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown’s relationship with “big oil” has been the key that opened the wallets of donors to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s re-election campaign.

Now, with a recent poll showing Brown within striking distance of the incumbent, Shaheen is taking the message to the airwaves.

Chris Jensen/Ryan Lessard for NHPR

Alleged violations of the state’s campaign finance rules are once again front and center in the New Hampshire governor’s race, with the top candidates on the receiving end of accusations that they accepted illegal donations.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party was first out of the gate Tuesday, asking Attorney General Joe Foster to investigate Republican candidate Walt Havenstein for “multiple violations,” including allegedly taking money from political action committees that failed to register with the state.

Thanks to nearly $1.5 million from his own pocket, Republican candidate for governor Walt Havenstein is keeping pace in the race for campaign money with Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan.

According to reports filed today with the Secretary of State, Havenstein reports a campaign war chest of $1,989,876. That includes $1,474,000 in personal loans and another $17,000 from other family members.

Tracy Lee Carroll, NHPR

A New Hampshire judge has struck down a law requiring out-of-state students to establish legal residency before being allowed to vote.

The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union challenged the law on behalf of four out-of-state college students two years ago, shortly after lawmakers overrode a veto by then-Gov. John Lynch and passed Senate Bill 318.

The attack ads with the cartoon sheep began airing in May, followed by the negative mailers.

Paid for by a conservative nonprofit called Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, they targeted Republican state senators who supported Medicaid expansion and a four-cent hike in the state gas tax. According to a spokesman, it was just the beginning of the group’s efforts to “fight” for a more fiscally conservative senate.

Update:  Thursday afternoon an attorney for the Hassan campaign asked New Hampshire Attorney General Joe Foster to expedite a review of the Republican party’s allegations.

New Hampshire Republicans have accused Gov. Maggie Hassan of accepting illegal campaign contributions from organized labor and have asked the Attorney General to investigate. At issue is a total of $45,000 in donations to the governor’s re-election campaign from three labor unions.

Sara Plourde

A Christian legal group has asked a federal judge to block a New Hampshire law that bars demonstrators from coming within 25 feet of facilities that offer or perform abortions.

New Hampshire’s so-called buffer zone rule is set to take effect Thursday. But in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a similar law in Massachusetts, Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court to delay implementation of the new restrictions.

As expected, Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen and Republican candidate Scott Brown have shown they will have very little trouble raising money in their race for the U.S. Senate.

Shaheen's campaign announced Monday she raised more than $2.8 million for her re-election campaign between April 1 and June 30 of this year, more than double the amount she collected from supporters in the previous two quarters combined.

Steve Smith via Flickr CC

New Hampshire doctors are among the nation’s most prolific prescribers of Oxycontin and other opioids, according to a government report released Tuesday that analyzed the state-by-state use of highly addictive painkillers.

Jim Cole / AP Photo POOL

A jury has found a Dover man guilty of the murder of 19-year-old University of New Hampshire student Elizabeth “Lizzi” Marriott.

Jurors in Strafford Superior Court deliberated for less than two days before finding 31-year-old Seth Mazzaglia, a community theater actor and karate instructor, guilty of first-degree murder by strangulation. 

The jury found Mazzaglia guilty of additional charges related to Marriott's death – murder in the commission of felony sexual assault and two counts of conspiracy related to Mazzaglia’s efforts to tamper with and falsify evidence. 

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

Gov. Maggie Hassan said her administration will “closely review” how Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a Massachusetts’ law that restricts protests outside abortion clinics will affect a similar law that will take effect in New Hampshire next month.

Hassan, who is in Turkey on a trade mission, signed a bill June 10 that authorizes reproductive health facilities that perform abortions to establish 25-foot buffer zones around the entrance. The law is set to take effect July 10.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and her husband, William, earned an average of more than $472,000 a year in pre-tax income between 2006 and 2013, according to federal tax returns released by Shaheen’s campaign Tuesday.

The couple's joint returns were made available four days after Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown and his wife, Gail Huff, released eight years of joint state and federal returns. Shaheen had pledged to release her returns if her opponents did the same.

Courtesy of Gabriel Wani

Update: CNN is reporting that Meriam Ibrahim and her husband, Daniel Wani of Manchester, were arrested at the airport in Khartoum on their way out of Sudan. Wani told the network in a phone call that he, Ibrahim and their two young children were being held at the national security office, although no details were available.

In a case closely watched in New Hampshire, a court in Sudan has ordered Meriam Ibrahim, the 27-year-old wife of a Manchester man, freed from a Khartoum prison.

NHPR/Josh Rogers

Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown released a trove of personal financial information Friday, including eight years of state and federal tax returns and a financial disclosure statement that showed before-tax income of more than $900,000 since the former Massachusetts senator left office in January 2013.

The Executive Council has picked an Alabama company to begin collecting data that will help physicians and pharmacists identify patients who may be abusing prescription medications.

The five-year contract awarded to Health Information Designs is the next step in the state’s effort to set up a prescription drug monitoring program, or PMP. Such programs are aimed at “doctor shopping,” in which patients visit multiple physicians for prescriptions that are then filled at different pharmacies.

Todd Bookman

Republican candidate for governor Walt Havenstein wants state election officials to rule on whether he meets the residency requirements to hold the office.

Immediately after filing paperwork to officially launch his candidacy against Gov. Maggie Hassan in Concord on Wednesday, Havenstein submitted a petition to the state Ballot Law Commission, asking for an expedited hearing on the residency issue.

New Hampshire veterans who have been waiting more than three months for an appointment to see a specialist at the Manchester VA Medical Center now have the option of receiving treatment from a non-VA physician.

Staff at the center are in the process of contacting 118 Granite State veterans who are on an “electronic wait list” of former troops who have been unable to see a VA physician in 90 days or less, said Tammy Krueger, director of the Manchester VA Medical Center.

Veterans seeking an appointment at the VA Medical Center in Manchester were able to see a doctor in 30 days or less 98 percent of the time,  according to a nationwide audit released today by Department of Veterans Affairs.

But as many as 118 Granite State veterans waited 90 days or more for their first appointment, and 98 former troops who enrolled for treatment in the last decade have yet to see a physician in the VA network.

Gov. Maggie Hassan's office said canceling a planned trade mission to Turkey would cost taxpayers $10,000 and the private businesses that will accompany the governor would lose thousands more.

In a written response to a public-records request by the conservative nonprofit Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, Hassan's chief of staff Pamela Walsh said "non-refundable travel arrangements" had already been paid for when the governor announced a freeze on hiring and out-of-state travel.

Sara Plourde

It was only a matter of time before Scott Brown’s involvement in a failed energy bill backed by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen would get the political-ad treatment.

Sure enough, on Thursday, the Senate Majority PAC launched a television spot that cites “news accounts” that Brown lobbied Senate Republicans to block the bill in order to deny Shaheen a legislative victory.

The 30-second ad is scheduled to run until at least June 4 on WMUR, at a cost of $224,000, as well as on some cable stations.

All four members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation are urging the U. S. government to secure the release of the pregnant wife of a Manchester man from a Sudanese prison.

Meriam Ibrahim Ishag, a 27-year-old physician who is eight months pregnant with her second child, was sentenced to death by hanging last week after a Sudanese court found her guilty of apostasy.

Sara Plourde

 The New Hampshire arm of Americans for Prosperity continues to pound away at Democrats over the Affordable Care Act.

The conservative non-profit's latest volley is a new television ad attacking New Hampshire’s 2nd District Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster for her support of so-called Obamacare.

Sara Plourde

Gov. Maggie Hassan is expected to sign legislation making it illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while driving or stopped in traffic.

The bill, passed by the New Hampshire House last week, represents “the most comprehensive distracted driving bill in the nation,” according to legislative testimony from Earl Sweeney, assistant commissioner of public safety.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Under the federal Clery Act, colleges and universities are required to report crime statistics. This chart measures total reported forcible sexual offenses involving students, on and off-campus, at each New Hampshire school.

The numbers are not adjusted to account for enrollment, which would allow for a better comparison. For example, with a 2012 undergraduate enrollment of 12,565, UNH sees 1.67 incidences per capita - while, with an enrollment of 6,277, Dartmouth sees 3.82 per capita.

Research suggests as many 95 percent of campus rapes and sexual assaults go unreported.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

Susy Struble was a 16-year-old high school student when, during a weekend visit to Dartmouth College, she was raped at an off-campus party.

Like many rape victims, Struble chose not to tell anyone about the assault, and two years later, she was back at Dartmouth as a student.

One night during her freshman year, she opened her door to a tall, sandy-haired man. Obviously drunk, he forced his way in, pushed Struble against the wall and tried to kiss her. Struble was able to fend off her attacker, who she realized was the same man who had raped her two years earlier.

Update: The New Hampshire Republican State Committee has submitted a complaint to the Federal Election Commission, alleging the Shaheen campaign "engaged in coordinated political advocacy communications that amount to illegal contributions." 

Republicans are claiming the campaign of New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen broke federal election law by helping to craft a television ad paid for by a Democratic super PAC.

The latest television ad attacking Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., for her support of the Affordable Care Act features a statistic on premium increases in New Hampshire that's been widely disputed.

The 30-second spot, paid for by Americans for Prosperity, focuses primarily on the so-called narrow network of providers in New Hampshire, which excludes 10 of the state’s 26 hospitals.

via SEC.gov

State lawmakers are wading into the debate over the controversial new painkiller Zohydro.

A Senate committee will take up legislation Tuesday that would impose an 18-month moratorium on the new drug, an especially potent formulation of hydrocodone.

Zohydro hit the market in March and is aimed at patients who need long-term, around-the-clock pain relief. It differs from other hydrocodone-based medications, such as Vicodin, because it isn’t combined with acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

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