Opinion/Guest View: Sen. Shaheen calls for standing up for Granite State voices in election
By Sen. Jeanne Shaheen
September 15, 2020
Politics is personal in New Hampshire, and it should be. It is what distinguishes our state from so many others and why our first-in-the nation primary is so unique. Campaigning in New Hampshire is about talking to voters directly and taking their questions. That’s what set us apart before this pandemic, and what will set us apart once we get through this.
Every election there are more and more threats to our citizen-first democracy. Untold millions in attack ads by dark money groups, anti-democratic attempts to suppress the vote, and hostile foreign adversaries hard at work — each threaten to drown out New Hampshire voters. We can’t let that happen. New Hampshire voters deserve leaders focused on making a difference for them, and campaigns focused on the urgent issues affecting our state. To that end, I have asked my opponent to join me in signing an agreement to discourage outside spending from dark money groups, prevent illegal tactics that suppress votes, and block foreign adversaries from influencing our election.
During recent U.S. Senate campaigns in New Hampshire, outside spending by dark money groups has been excessive, with tens of millions of dollars being spent in both the 2014 and 2016 elections. Just last year, Wall Street firms cashing in on surprise medical bills spent $30 million against me and other Senators, both Democrats and Republicans, all to block reform legislation that would lower health care costs. Despite these ads, I am still pushing to stop these firms from ripping off Granite Staters with exorbitant and unexpected medical bills. Unfortunately, they did succeed in derailing the bipartisan compromise that would have stopped surprise medical bills.
Wall Street private equity firms spending millions of dollars in dark money to block reform and to protect billions of dollars in profits shows what is wrong with our campaign finance system. It’s also something we can fix, at least for this year’s election in New Hampshire.
By joining me in signing the Clean Elections Agreement, my opponent can help stop advertising by dark money groups by pledging to donate 50 percent of the cost of the ads benefitting his campaign to charity. That agreement would make their ads a liability and would discourage Super PACs from spending here.
In the past, New Hampshire campaigns have been influenced by illegal campaign tactics designed to suppress certain votes. From phone-jamming on Election Day, to sending out targeted mail with false voting information, these illegal tactics have resulted in fines and even jail time for the perpetrators. But the punishments were not fast enough to stop their influence on Election Day.
By joining me in signing the Clean Elections Agreement, my opponent can help stop dirty tricks or illegal efforts to suppress the vote.
This summer, U.S. intelligence agencies in the Trump Administration and the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee confirmed that a foreign enemy, Russia, tampered with our last presidential election. Last year, President Trump’s former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, a former Republican Senator, said foreign interference will be used “to try to weaken democratic institutions, undermine U.S. alliances and partnerships and shape policy outcomes in the United States and elsewhere.” U.S. intelligence has already reported that Russia is doing everything it can to interfere in the 2020 elections, and government officials in China and Iran are actively working to hack American political campaigns in the run up to November.
These are direct attacks on our democracy, and Granite Staters deserve better. So far my opponent has refused to commit to join this Clean Elections Agreement and stand with me in making the people of New Hampshire the focus of this election. I hope he will reconsider.
Protecting Granite Staters’ voices and role in our election should be a priority for Democrats and Republicans. If dark money groups can sink millions of dollars into our elections to push their own agendas, if Granite Staters lose out on the opportunity to vote because they are victimized by illegal campaign tactics, and if foreign adversaries can dictate or influence who wins our elections, our democracy is threatened.
We must stand up and protect it.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, is seeking reelection for a third term in November.