Evan McMullin’s independent never-Trump-never-Hillary presidential campaign earned him 700,000 votes along with footnote status in future accounts of the 2016 presidential election. One bewildered supporter tweeted to him afterward, basically asking “what now?” McMullin responded on December 4 with a series of tweets that add up to two things: he’s still not a Trump fan, and he is a great believer in the power of civics.

The president-elect and McMullin seem to have no use for each other. A few of McMullin’s tweeted recommendations, though, apply to every voter vis-a-vis every elected official. They’re about civics and about being a citizen instead of a client. I doubt President-elect Trump would take issue with these three, for example.

  • “Read and learn the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Know that our basic rights are inalienable.”
  • “Identify and follow many credible sources of news. Be very well informed and learn to discern truth from untruth.”
  • “Support journalists, artists, academics, clergy and others who speak truth and who inform.”

McMullin also advised “Hold members of Congress accountable…” I’m partial to that one, coming as I do from a state that just sent a pro-abortion all-Dem delegation to Washington (while electing GOP majorities in our State House; go figure).

Even where McMullin’s December 4 tweets took Trump to task by name, they were grounded in civics: watch every word, decision and action of this Administration….Write, speak, and act when we observe violations of our rights and democracy. 

Call me old-fashioned, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s all essential no matter who’s in the White House or the State House or even the town hall. Maybe the prospect of Donald Trump’s presidency is prompting people to take a fresh look at the things they ought to be doing anyway.

Ellen Kolb blogs at Leaven for the Loaf about New Hampshire politics & the life issues.

While you’re reflecting on things to be grateful for, include this: at least we’re not under the authority of France’s Council of State.

In 2014, a consortium of advocacy groups created a short video called “Dear Future Mom”, with the mom being a woman who is apprehensive after learning that she’s pregnant with a child who has Down syndrome. The video features people with Down Syndrome talking about their lives in a reassuring way, acknowledging the challenges but concluding that “people with Down Syndrome can live a happy life.”

That was a bit too much for the French Broadcasting Counsel, which refused to show the video. The Counsel’s decision was appealed to the French Council of State by some people with Down Syndrome and their advocates. In early November 2016, the Council came down on the side of the broadcaster.

Renate Lindeman, writing in the Huffington Post, explains the Council’s reasoning, with which she is not thrilled:

The State Counsel said that allowing people with Down syndrome to smile was “inappropriate” because people’s expression of happiness was “likely to disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices”.

In other words, a video promoting the value and worth of the lives of people with Down Syndrome is inappropriate because it might cause psychic pain to a woman who has chosen to terminate a pregnancy due to fetal anomaly of one kind or another.

In France, the score is right-not-to-be-offended 1, right-to-life 0.

The Jerome Lejeune Foundation, one of the makers of the video, is appealing the State Council’s decision to the European Court of Human Rights. That should be interesting.

Here is the video that kicked up the ruckus.

h/t Mark Shea and Renate Lindeman; see also Jerome Lejeune Foundation USA

The Clinton campaign has aimed an ad right at Trump’s underbelly: assorted negative comments made by him about women. Clinton’s kicker: “is this the President we want for our daughters?”

Careful of that glass house you’re living in, Mrs. C.

This from the campaign of a woman who likes to say that women’s rights are human rights. At the same time, she promotes abortion, which effectively makes human rights conditional on whether an individual is “wanted.” My daughters know better. Does hers?

She touts the “Affordable” Care Act every chance she gets, which is not the same thing as supporting health care. Ask the women with high deductibles who are about to hear from their insurance companies how much more they have to pay for health insurance next year. I doubt that I’m the only woman who is avoiding urgent-care medical attention because it’s unaffordable. I haven’t heard Trump applaud that.

She’s determined to keep the “Affordable” Care Act’s HHS/contraceptive mandate in place. Remember that the ACA considers contraception for women to be “preventive” care, which implies that women are broken and need to be fixed. The same mandate is what’s keeping the Little Sisters of the Poor (among others) in court. Prosecuting nuns for exercising their right to choose not to subsidize employees’ contraceptive use? So much for standing by women. I don’t see Trump taking aim at nuns.

Clinton wants to eliminate the Hyde Amendment. The more public funding of abortion, the better, in Hillaryland. Don’t like that? Prepare to pay up and shut up during a Clinton Administration. Conscience rights be damned. Trump takes a different view of Hyde.

And then there’s Clinton’s recent gleeful question about Trump: “what kind of genius loses a billion dollars in a single year?” I guess that’s the shiny object that’s supposed to divert me from a more substantive question: what kind of Secretary of State “loses” tens of thousands of emails and gets away with it? Do we want our daughters governed by a politician who thinks she’s above the law and will not come clean about her actions?

As for remarks about women, it wasn’t Trump who called Gennifer Flowers “trailer trash”  or Monica Lewinsky a “narcissistic loony tune.” In this campaign, Clinton has said that women who have endured sexual assault have the right to be believed. Tell it to Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey.

Is this the President we want for our daughters?

It’s a fair question to ask about Trump. It’s an urgent question to ask about Clinton.

Not long after Roe v. Wade federalized abortion policy, Members of Congress led by Henry Hyde moved to prevent federal funds from being used for abortions. The Hyde Amendment was finally added to the Medicaid program as a rider to the Health and Human Services budget on September 30, 1976. The rider has been added in every federal budget cycle since then. The Hyde Amendment restricts – but does not altogether prevent – federal taxpayer funding of abortion.

Abortion providers have tried to torpedo the Hyde Amendment since the day it was proposed. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is a determined foe of Hyde. Slate quotes her as saying that it “mak[es] it harder for low-income women to exercise their full rights.” Clinton and candidates in step with her are prepared to coerce all taxpayers into subsidizing abortion.

Donald Trump is reportedly willing to support the Hyde Amendment, according to Marjorie Dannenfelser, chairwoman of Trump’s pro-life coalition. “Not only has Mr. Trump doubled down on his three existing commitments to the pro-life movement, he has gone a step further in pledging to protect the Hyde Amendment and the conscience rights of millions of pro-life taxpayers.”

Absent a presidential veto, it’s the Members of Congress who determine whether the Hyde Amendment goes into the budget. A presidential candidate’s coattails will have something to do with the makeup of Congress, though, so the views of the presidential candidates matter.

As the Hyde Amendment turns 40, and acting independently of any campaign or party, a diverse group of pro-life Americans led by Secular Pro-Life has launched the #HelloHyde campaign. #HelloHyde not only marks the anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, but also celebrates the lives of children born under Medicaid since the amendment was first used. The #HelloHyde campaigners want the Hyde Amendment to be not only protected but broadened.

More power to them. From the campaign’s web site:

Medicaid should cover birth, not death….

The Hyde Amendment’s life-saving impact is hard to overstate. Both supporters and opponents agree that the Hyde Amendment has prevented over a million abortions. The disagreement, sad to say, is over whether that’s a good thing.

#HelloHyde estimates that of the people born through the Medicaid program since the Hyde Amendment was enacted (“Medicaid kids”), 1 in 9 would have died in the absence of Hyde Amendment protection. That estimate comes from a recently released report by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, which found that the Hyde Amendment has saved 2.13 million lives.

The #HelloHyde web site includes photos of  some of the Medicaid kids. I hope opponents of the Hyde Amendment see those photos, which might provoke some thought about which of those kids ought to have been killed at public expense.

 

Mother Teresa will be canonized on September 4, giving formal acknowledgment of the obvious: she led a life of heroic virtue in service to others. She’s worth emulating. Her work took her around the world, and she spent time with all kinds of world leaders. In 1994, she was the main speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. President and Mrs. Clinton were there. Mother Teresa’s words moved nearly everyone in the room to give her a standing ovation at one point. Remaining seated were the Clintons, who couldn’t quite work up the same enthusiasm for what they were hearing.

One wonders what will go through Hillary Clinton’s head as the canonization nudges her off the “trending” list for an hour or so. Will the event rate a remark from the presidential candidate?

Mother Teresa started out mildly enough at the prayer breakfast, with the prayer of St. Francis. “Make me an instrument of your peace…” Then she spoke about human dignity, service to the poor, aid to the dying, support for families. Who could object? But then she just had to get to the topic everyone knew she would, however much it might make her listeners squirm.

“…I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child…I will tell you something beautiful. We are fighting abortion by adoption – by care of the mother and adoption for her baby. We have saved thousands of lives. We have sent word to the clinics, to the hospitals and police stations: ‘Please don’t destroy the child; we will take the child.’ So we always have someone tell the mothers in trouble: ‘Come, we will take care of you, we will get a home for your child.’ And we have a tremendous demand from couples who cannot have a child – but I never give a child to a couple who have done something not to have a child. Jesus said. ‘Anyone who receives a child in my name, receives me.’ By adopting a child, these couples receive Jesus but, by aborting a child, a couple refuses to receive Jesus.” [Find the full transcript at priestsforlife.org.]

Boom. That’s when the ovation began. It went on without Hillary Clinton’s participation. That much made the evening news.

Last January, Sean Fitzpatrick writing at Crisis magazine offered a postscript about the encounter between Mother Teresa and the First Lady.

“The address concluded, Mrs. Clinton noted the pointed nature of the nun’s words. ‘Mother Teresa was unerringly direct,’ the First Lady recounted. ‘She disagreed with my views on a woman’s right to choose and told me so.’ Tell her so she did; but though she was direct in her disagreement, she also offered something that Mrs. Clinton could applaud. Although Hillary Clinton was, and remains, a supporter of legalized abortion, she agreed with Mother Teresa that adoption was a preferable alternative. Speaking to her afterwards, Mother Teresa told Mrs. Clinton of her desire to continue her mission to find homes and families for orphaned, abandoned, and unwanted children by founding an adoption center in Washington, DC. She invited the First Lady to assist her in this endeavor, and brought Mrs. Clinton to India with her to witness her work firsthand.

“Mother Teresa’s motions were not wasted. When Hillary Clinton returned to Washington, she took up Mother Teresa’s request with a will. Keeping in contact with the saint who called her regularly to receive updates on her ‘center for babies,’ Hillary Clinton did the necessary legwork and succeeded in opening The Mother Teresa Home for Infant Children in 1995 in an affluent section of Washington, DC. Mother Teresa joined her for the opening, and two years later passed into the arms of her Lord. But she left a bright mark on the career of Hillary Clinton, who saw something remarkable in the tiny nun, and chose to do her bidding to help save lives. Mother Teresa inspired Mrs. Clinton to do a truly good work in spite of her dedicated promotion of Planned Parenthood’s agenda for ‘safe and legal’ abortions.

The center was quietly and unfortunately closed in 2002.”

The canonization will give Hillary Clinton an opportunity to point out Mother Teresa’s opposition to abortion, which she can contrast with her own reproductive-rights song and dance. Or, Hillary Clinton can take the high road, recall the work she and Mother Teresa did together, and say something like “let’s be more like her.”

Of course, if she doesn’t want to see more people like Mother Teresa, she could say that, too.

Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at LeavenForTheLoaf.com. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking in New Hampshire. See her earlier posts for DaTechGuyBlog: Ethics and PP’s Campaign Cash, Putting a Know-Nothing in His Place, Ads Say the Darnedest Things, Worried About the Court? Then Worry About the Senate, and Sunday Best. 

A note to readers: This is my last pitch as one of DaTechGuy’s Magnificent Prospects. DTG will be judging the entries in Da Magnificent Tryouts by hits-per-post and hits to DaTipJar. If you hit DaTipJar after reading one of my posts, please mention my name so Da Boss knows I’m earning my keep – and thank you! (Look for a tip jar link at the right side of the page if it’s not visible below.)




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A local cultural observation, just to break up the campaign coverage for a minute…

The Latin Mass can pack a room, and it ain’t all about nostalgia. (Or, as friend used to spell it, “naustalgia,” which I always took to mean the past making you sick.) One of the old ethnic churches in my New England city has just been re-opened after being shuttered for 15 years. Our bishop asked an order of priests dedicated to the Tridentine Mass to set up shop, and the order obliged. The first Sunday Mass was held recently, and it was an eye-opener.

First of all, the number of young families was staggering. They’re looking to the future. Talking with them after Mass was like a tonic.

The church was packed, people standing in the back, even 40 or so standing on the steps outside when the church filled up. It’s possible some were there for the novelty, or to see what a Latin Mass was like. There were a few folks who had been parishioners back in the days when it was “the Polish parish.” There were certainly some pre-Vatican II Catholics who wanted the liturgy of their youth. Most of the attendees, though, looked like they’d been born well after the mid-1960s.

Second, the bumper stickers out in the parking lot indicated a lot of politically-engaged people in attendance. There were humorous (not to say barbed) slogans and serious ones, many explicitly pro-life, few explicitly partisan, yet all designed to give a Democratic nominee the vapors.

So what?

I’ll tell you what this looks like to me: these people praying together are not cultural refugees. They’re not wringing their hands. They’re looking past the next election. They’re steeped less in tradition per se than in faith in God. And they’re bringing that faith with them as they raise their kids, go about their daily business, and prepare to vote.

If the Republican nominee prevails, these are people who will keep him on his toes. If the Democratic nominee prevails – and she won’t, if these folks have their way – these are people who have the makings of resistance, if not outright defiance. People who take their religious faith and their American citizenship seriously are a force to reckoned with, with or without a “win” in November. Let others talk (without a constitutional basis) about separation of church and state – just don’t expect separation of faith and daily life.

Am I giving too much credit to one event in one small city? Maybe. Still, there’s something about that church full of savvy young families that shook up my pessimism about the upcoming election. I needed the reality check.

As for the Mass itself, it was a revelation to me. I’m a post-Vatican II cradle Catholic. Let’s just say there seem to be riches I’ve yet to discover.

Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at LeavenForTheLoaf.com. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking in New Hampshire. See her earlier posts for DaTechGuyBlog: Ethics and PP’s Campaign Cash, Putting a Know-Nothing in His Place, Ads Say the Darnedest Things, and Worried About the Court? Then Worry About the Senate. 

A note to readers: I’m still one of DaTechGuy’s Magnificent Prospects, striving to earn your thumbs-up. DTG will be judging the entries in Da Magnificent Tryouts by hits-per-post and hits to DaTipJar. If you hit DaTipJar after reading one of my posts, please mention my name so Da Boss knows I’m earning my keep – and thank you! (Look for a tip jar link at the right side of the page if it’s not visible below.)




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I suspect that those of us who find Trump & Hillary equally unacceptable are going to be voted off the conservative island before this election’s over. I’m being harangued by perfectly nice people saying “butbutbut HILLARY!!”, along with what’s supposed to be the clincher: “Supreme Court!” An awful prospect, to be sure. The thing is, I don’t see that Trump offers any more hope in that department. Neither candidate appears to have the constitutional moorings, never mind the pro-life moorings (since the right to life precedes any written constitution), to be sensibly guided in the choice of Justices.

That leaves the Senate as the firewall against any mischievous molding of the court that a President Clinton or President Trump might want to try.

To likeminded voters who won’t support either of the major Presidential nominees, I say go to the polls anyway. Don’t stay home in a snit on November 8. All those downballot races are going to affect how the next Chief Executive does business. And of all the downballot races, those for U.S. Senate are most critical.

Thirty-four Senate seats are up for grabs. It’s not enough for a candidate to point to the top of the ticket and say “I’m with him” or “I’m with her.” What I want to know is, are you for religious liberty? Do you recognize the right to life? How about respecting First Amendment free-speech rights for peaceful protesters with whom you disagree? Are you ready to defend and expand the Hyde Amendment?

No moot points there. The Little Sisters of the Poor are still waiting to hear if the Court will respect their religious beliefs regarding helping to procure contraception for their employees. The Hobby Lobby decision is still under fire, and so is McCullen – the former a religious liberty case,  the latter a victory for peaceful pro-life witnesses outside abortion facilities. The recent Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision has accommodated abortion providers while making substandard health care for women a constitutional right (and wasn’t that a neat trick?).

Democratic candidates for Senate seem to be consistent in praising Hellerstedt and condemning the other decisions, though I would be pleased to hear of an exception. Republicans are all over the place, to the extent that I can make no assumptions whatsoever about what an “R” means when it comes to judicial matters.

Does a candidate squirm or stand tall under questions about the Court decisions I’ve mentioned?  That’ll tell me a lot about whether I want a particular candidate in the Senate. If Trump gets elected with a bunch of Republican senators who are OK with Hellerstedt and not OK with the Little Sisters, or who are meek about either, Hillary will get the Court she seeks, even if she’s not President.

My own state is in play, with Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) being challenged by Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan. I’d much rather have Ayotte voting on judicial nominees. But will she campaign on the threat of a dangerous shift in the Supreme Court or a loss of the Hyde Amendment if Hassan gets the seat? Don’t I wish.

Frankly, in the year of Trump, Republican Senate candidates can’t trust either party’s standardbearer when it comes to the Court. It’s time to lead. Visualize a bloc of Senators telling the new President, Your nominees will have a history of respecting the right to life and the First Amendment, or they don’t stand a chance of confirmation. Better yet, visualize GOP Senate candidates saying that now, putting Dems on the defensive for once. Litmus test? You betcha.

Think about that if you’re tempted to stay home in November.

Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at LeavenForTheLoaf.com. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking in New Hampshire. See her earlier posts for DaTechGuyBlog: Ethics and PP’s Campaign Cash, Putting a Know-Nothing in His Place, and Ads Say the Darnedest Things

A note to readers: I’m still one of DaTechGuy’s Magnificent Prospects, striving to earn your thumbs-up. DTG will be judging the entries in Da Magnificent Tryouts by hits-per-post and hits to DaTipJar. If you hit DaTipJar after reading one of my posts, please mention my name so Da Boss knows I’m earning my keep – and thank you! (Look for a tip jar link at the right side of the page if it’s not visible below.)




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As a social media nerd (perhaps you know the type), I take note of the political ads in the sidebars and footers of the blogs and pages I follow. The unseen forces that affect ad-placing algorithms have figured out that I’m pro-life, and most of the political ads I see are for more-or-less pro-life candidates. A pro-Hillary ad like the one that crossed my social media feed today is jarring. (How did she find me?)

A pro-life physician whose blog I enjoy took Democratic VP candidate Tim Kaine to task recently for Kaine’s personally-opposed-but position on abortion. No surprises, until I got to the end of the post and saw a pro-Hillary ad at the bottom of the page.

The blogger sure didn’t place that one. The platform hosting his blog did. I took grim pleasure in thinking how few clicks the ad must have gotten from the blog’s usual audience.

This, I reminded myself, is why bloggers need to bite the bullet and pay for self-hosted sites. When we don’t, we’re at the mercy of the lovely and talented ad team at WordPress or Google or whatever. It’s just plain annoying to know that even in an ad rotation that’s largely non-political on a pro-life blog, something like the Clinton promo can slither in. Free social media isn’t altogether free, a fact I wish I could ignore. If we’re using space on someone else’s property, be it Facebook or Twitter or a blog that’s not self-hosted, the landlord gets to set terms.

This was a minor annoyance, but it was just pesky enough to annoy me. It was my lesson for the day, and I share it with you at no charge: blog your heart out, and own your platform if you can. Hillary is lurking for your readers.

A follow-up to my July 28 post, “Ethics and PP’s Campaign Cash”: A report in the New Hampshire Sunday News says that the New Hampshire Executive Branch Ethics Committee has dismissed the ethics complaint against Gov. Hassan and Councilor Van Ostern, who took Planned Parenthood campaign money and then supported state contracts with PP. Nothing to see here, folks.

Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at http://leavenfortheloaf.com. When she's not writing, she's hiking in New Hampshire.
Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at Leaven for the Loaf. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking in New Hampshire.

A note to readers: DaTechGuy has given me a chance to earn a regular gig here, and I hope I can earn your thumbs-up with this week’s post along with my earlier ones (here and here). He’ll be judging the entries in Da Magnificent tryouts by hits-per-post and hits to DaTipJar. If you hit DaTipJar after reading this, please mention my name so Da Boss knows I’m earning my keep. (Look for a tip jar link at the right side of the page if it’s not visible below.) Thank you!

FYI from DaTechGuy Ellen’s first piece was Ethics and PP cash her second was The portrait’s gotta go: Putting a Know-Nothing in his place.



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A determined little group met at the Massachusetts State House this week with a simple message to legislators: move the portrait of 19th-century Know-Nothing governor Henry Gardner away from its place of honor outside legislative chambers to someplace more appropriate. The basement, maybe.

Former ambassador and Boston mayor Ray Flynn led a roster of speakers at the Pioneer Institute event promoting educational choice for Massachusetts students, including students from economically disadvantaged families. “Move this Portrait: The Know-Nothing’s Governor and Barriers to School Choice” was about more than moving a Know-Nothing’s portrait. It was about repealing the anti-aid measure, also known as the Blaine Amendment, that was added to the state constitution by anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant legislators in the 19th century.

Flynn reminded his listeners of something that Abraham Lincoln said in 1855, when the Know-Nothing party’s brief ascendancy was leaving its legacy. “When the Know-Nothings get control, the Declaration of Independence will read ‘all men are created equal – except Negroes, foreigners, and Catholics.” Flynn urged a repudiation of the Know-Nothing’s legacy, represented by Governor Gardner’s portrait. He knows this calls for united action by determined Massachusetts residents. “If you can’t effectively articulate a point of view, injustice prevails. Determined people can change just about anything.”

Gerard Robinson of the American Enterprise Institute asked a good question, a bit tongue-in-cheek, but thought-provoking. “When did it become unpopular with liberals to give poor people money?” Of course if disadvantaged families are paying taxes, it’s their own money. Their sacrifices to send their kids to non-public schools amount to double taxation.

One step at a time, urged the event’s six speakers. Vouchers, education tax credits, education savings accounts: all are measures that would assist poor families, and each one would be a step in the right direction.

Jason Bedrick, one of the event’s speakers, pointed out that the anti-aid amendment was passed in the days when public schools were effectively non-denominational Protestant. It was designed to prevent public money from going to support of Catholic schools, which at the time were depended upon by many immigrant families. Times have changed, but the anti-aid amendment has not. It’s time to change that, said Bedrick, and he pointed out the “tolerance and respect” he enjoyed as a Jewish man who attended Catholic schools. “School choice fosters cooperation and respects minorities, and fosters students more likely to extend political tolerance to people with whom they disagree.”

Take that, Governor Gardner.

Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at http://leavenfortheloaf.com. When she's not writing, she's hiking in New Hampshire.
Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at Leaven for the Loaf. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking in New Hampshire.

A note from DaTechGuy: I hope you enjoyed Ellen’s piece (so does Ellen!). Remember we will be judging the entries in Da Magnificent tryouts by hits both to their post and to DaTipJar. So if you like Ellen’s work please consider sharing this post, and if you hit DaTipjar because of it don’t forget to mention Ellen’s post is the reason you did so. If you missed her post from last week, it’s here.

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Following the money can be an intriguing political exercise. Take one Planned Parenthood affiliate’s political expenditures, for example. When a candidate benefits from PP expenditures and later has to vote on a PP contract, when does business-as-usual becomes a matter of ethical concern?

Darlene Pawlik wants to find out. She’s checking things out close to her New Hampshire home, and she has filed a complaint with the Executive Branch Ethics Committee against Governor Maggie Hassan and Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern. The complaint might be heard formally at the committee’s next meeting, scheduled for August 3.

Pawlik was prompted to act by a June 2016 “do-over” vote by the state’s Executive Council that sent “family planning” money to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England only months after the same Council turned down a similar PPNNE contract proposal. It’s unusual for a contract denied in a fiscal year to be re-introduced and approved in substantially the same terms later in the same fiscal year, but that’s what the Executive Council did with its 3-2 vote on June 29.

A bit of background: PPNNE is the region’s largest abortion provider, although the New Hampshire contracts are for “family planning” services and are not meant to be used for abortions. (Thereby hangs a tale for another day.)  The denial of the original contract hardly de-funded PPNNE, however much the denial gave PP supporters the vapors. PPNNE’s budget is $20 million a year. The original contract was for $638,000; the do-over contract was for a little less than that. By comparison, PPNNE spent $1.5 million on “public policy” in 2014. That doesn’t count campaign donations and independent campaign expenditures by PPNNE’s political arm.

Back to the do-over vote. The more recent contract passed because executive councilor and GOP candidate for governor Chris Sununu switched his vote from 2015. PPNNE’s Action Fund stayed out of Sununu’s race in the 2014 election.  On the other hand, the campaigns of Governor Hassan and Councilor Van Ostern were the beneficiaries of PP donations. Hassan, a Democrat who is running for U.S. Senate, named a pro-PP commissioner of health and human services earlier this year who promised during his confirmation process that he would “bring back” the PP contract. Van Ostern was the chief cheerleader for PP on the Council during the recent reconsideration vote. He is a Democratic candidate for governor.

In her ethics complaint, Pawlik alleges that as recipients of PP donations, Hassan and Van Ostern should have recused themselves from any action on contracts with PPNNE. The governor has no vote on the Executive Council, but she presides at Council meetings and was more than happy in that capacity to speak in PP’s favor at the June meeting before the contract vote was taken.

It’s hardly news that political committees get involved in elections, and it’s hardly news that governments do business with entities associated with those committees.What’s news is that a concerned citizen is taking action to clarify how much back-scratching is too much. The same-fiscal-year reconsideration of a rejected contract begs for further scrutiny.

The New Hampshire Union Leader quoted PPNNE’s vice-president for public policy as saying “PPNNE and its Political Action Fund are ‘separate and distinct organizations with different funding, different activities and different tax status.’” Presto: no conflict of interest, says PP.

Look again, says Darlene Pawlik.

She is appealing to an Ethics Committee that is under most New Hampshire residents’ radar. The Committee itself has been moribund for several months, with its three most recent scheduled meetings cancelled. There’s a meeting scheduled for August 3, though, and we know now that at least one complaint should be getting a hearing.

Stay tuned.

Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at http://leavenfortheloaf.com. When she's not writing, she's hiking in New Hampshire.
Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at Leaven for the Loaf. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking in New Hampshire.

A note from DaTechGuy: I hope you enjoyed Ellen’s piece (so does Ellen!). Remember we will be judging the entries in Da Magnificent tryouts by hits both to their post and to DaTipJar. So if you like Ellen’s work please consider sharing this post, and if you hit DaTipjar because of it don’t forget to mention Ellen’s post is the reason you did so.




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