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, notably during the 2012 elections.    Brian has a B.J. from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.  

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Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Is Gov. Maggie Hassan preparing to take on U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte in 2016? Hassan hasn’t said yet, but two national political groups that back Republicans seem convinced she is.

Crossroads GPS, a conservative non-profit founded by GOP operative and former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove, released a radio ad Thursday attacking Hassan’s proposed budget. The 60-second spot comes a day after the National Republican Senatorial Committee launched a web ad that ridicules Hassan’s proposal to hire a chief operating officer.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The owner of the state’s largest chain of pain clinics would be forced to forfeit his financial interest in the practice if legislation pending in the House becomes law.

House Bill 517 would require physicians who lose their licenses to practice to cut their ownership ties to any health-care facilities.

The lead sponsor, Republican Rep. Don Leeman of Rochester, said the bill is aimed at one of the state’s most visible medical practices: Dr. O’Connell’s Pain Care Centers, Inc.

Brian Wallstin for NHPR

Lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday on a House bill to bring keno to New Hampshire bars and restaurants. Sponsors say the electronic game could raise some $8.5 million annually for education, while Gov. Maggie Hassan’s two-year budget projects $26 million in keno revenue.

NHPR’s digital journalist Brian Wallstin reported on keno legislation a year ago that died in the Senate, and he joins us now to give us an update on this year’s proposal.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

Lawmakers took testimony Tuesday on a senate bill to change workers compensation payments. It's an issue that's come up before.

New Hampshire has high workers comp costs, twice the national average according to the Insurance Department, and making the system less expensive is a priority for lawmakers and the Governor.

Gov. Maggie Hassan issued the following the statement Sunday evening:

"As we continue our response to last week’s winter storm and another one approaches, state emergency management officials are working with utilities and local communities to make preparations and take every precaution to support local communities. The Emergency Operations Center will open tomorrow morning at eight a.m., and closely monitor the storm and provide updates as needed. I encourage all Granite Staters to plan ahead for the morning commute, to follow all traffic and safety alerts, and to drive safely.”

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Today, Governor Maggie Hassan begins her second term facing a far different political landscape than she faced two years ago. Scroll down for real-time updates from the Statehouse featuring news, tweets from NHPR reporters and photos by Allegra Boverman. Click through additional photos in the gallery above.

Visit the official inaugural committee website here. 

StopnLook via Flickr CC

A commission studying ways to reduce workers compensation costs in New Hampshire released its final report Friday, but did not go so far as to recommend a cap how much health providers can charge for the care of injured workers.

Instead, in the 38-page report, a majority of commission members recommends the panel continue its work for another year.

Marc Nozell via Flickr CC

Former state Rep. Kevin Avard upset Democrat incumbent Sen. Peggy Gilmour on Tuesday, adding at least one seat to the Republican’s majority in the New Hampshire Senate. 

Avard took 50.8 percent of the 21,335 ballots cast in the District 12 contest to beat Gilmour by 323 votes. The narrow margin gives Republicans a 14-10 majority in the Senate, with at least one race that was too close to call.

In District 7, Democratic incumbent Andrew Hosmer had a lead of about 100 votes over Republican challenger Kathy Lauer-Rago.

Marc Nozell via Flickr CC

Hoping to retain the GOP’s slim majority in the state Senate, if not build on it, the New Hampshire Republican State Committee has spent tens of thousands of dollars on an advertising push over the final weeks of the campaign.

The party has focused its spending on a handful of races that could determine who takes control of the state’s upper chamber, which Republicans now control 13-11.

The NHGOP has poured a total of roughly $72,000 into two rematches from 2012 that Republicans won by the slimmest of margins.

Sara Plourde

Spending on the New Hampshire Senate race cracked the $46 million mark this week to become the most expensive election campaign in Granite State history.

And to the surprise of no one, outside groups have far outspent the candidates: party organizations, political action committees, super PACS and other non-candidate groups have poured $28.7 million into the race, one of a handful of closely watched contests that will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

Brian Wallstin for NHPR

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was in New Hampshire Wednesday pushing for stronger gun laws.

Giffords was shot in the head during a campaign event in 2011, and is in the midst of a nine-state tour. She says strengthening gun laws would protect victims of domestic violence.

She made stops in Manchester and Concord on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions.

Executive director Pia Carusone says keeping the state’s Congressional Democrats in office is critical to the organization’s cause.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Scott Brown has tried to make the New Hampshire Senate race about national security, illegal immigration and incumbent Jeanne Shaheen’s political fidelity to an unpopular president.

But the Republican candidate has spent a lot of time the past two weeks defending his somewhat ambiguous record on abortion rights. The issue boiled over Tuesday at a hastily organized “media availability” in Derry, where Brown was set to talk foreign policy with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla).

Taylor Quimby / NHPR

10:27 p.m.

For the third time, former Congressman Frank Guinta will face Carol Shea-Porter for New Hampshire's District 1 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Guinta won the Republican nomination in Tuesday's primary, taking 49 percent of the vote.

Dan Innis, former dean of the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire and co-owner of Portsmouth’s Ale House Inn, received 41 percent, while libertarian Brendan Kelly won 8 percent.

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.