On The Political Front: What The FEC Reports On Frank Guinta Mean

Jun 2, 2015

Federal Election Commission reports released today shed more light on the finances of district congressman Frank Guinta. 

Related: Read the reports here.

Last month we learned Guinta had settled campaign finance violations with the FEC over $355,000 Guinta plowed into his 2010 campaign, and that he’d agreed to refund the money and pay a $15,000 fine.

Guinta has -- and continues to say – he had a right to the money, which came from accounts under the control of his parents. But the FEC found - and Guinta’s lawyer signed onto a settlement - that says the money amounted to illegal campaign contributions.  

Josh Rogers talks with All Things Considered Host Peter Biello about this developing story.

 So Josh, these documents reflect the FEC’s work on the Guinta matter, what’s the big takeaway?

Well, the biggest is that Congressman Guinta’s version of things, or I guess I should say, his latest version of things, is that the $355,000 that he funneled to his campaign committee in came from a family account in which he held a “equitable interest,” is not shared by his own family. Guinta’s mother, Virginia, who wrote the 9 checks to Guinta, wrote loan on the memo line on each of them, and told the FEC she expected to be repaid.

Now the reports also suggest that Guinta’s used money from his parents in his mayoral races, too.

Yes. That information apparently came from Guinta himself as part of what the FEC refers to as his “family pot “ defense,  that the account on which his parent checks were drawn was an account that family members, including Guinta’s brother and sister,  could tap for various expenses. Guinta also used money to make mortgage payments, pay credit card bills and help fund his mayoral runs.

In affidavits to the FEC, he said he had  a “ specific commitment and pledge” from his parents that those funds were his to access. The FEC says there is no documentary evidence to suggest that’s true. Guinta’s mother told the FEC that she and Guinta’s father had decided to make $1 million available to each of their children, and that when she wrote checks to Guinta she deducted those amounts from his $1 million dollar allotment, which she called “fungible not certain.”  

The FEC report also says Guinta’s sister told the FEC that she had no idea about any so-called family pot, nor that she or her brothers enjoyed any right to any funds.

Another thing Congressman Guinta has said about this matter is that he hasn’t simply been the beneficiary of this so-called family account, but that he himself contributed to it.

Yes, he’s said he put in more money than he ever got out. The FEC called that claim unsupported and said records produced by Guinta showed between 1980 and 1994, assets totaling about $100,000 were held in Guinta’s  name. Guinta  then claimed another $41,800 in personal assets in prior to 1988. In any event, the FEC said it saw no proof any of that money ended up in the so-called family account.

OK, so those are the facts according to the FEC. Now, Frank Guinta has been under real pressure ever since the FEC settlement was first reported last month. New Hampshire's top republican official,  Senator Kelly Ayotte, has called for him to step down. Governor Maggie Hassan has said she doesn’t think he can continue to serve and numerous newspaper editorial boards from across the political spectrum have told him to resign. Does this latest release by the FEC change anything?

Not the material facts. A lot of people here and in DC were waiting to see if these reports contained anything that makes things significantly worse for Guinta, and by association, Republicans in Washington and those at the state level. Recall the state GOP executive committee last month declined to take action against Guinta.  Whether a having a congressman's mother and sister contradict his version of reality changes anything that will be up to all of these people, and of course, to Congressman Guinta.