Thursday, May 08, 2008

Out of State Interests

Late last month, NH’s junior Senator, John E. Sununu, Jr. published an editorial in the Union Leader, NH’s own Republican newspaper. Sununu waxed poetically about NH’s admirable record for protecting our water, air, and land. Luckily he didn’t pat his own back too, far, since his own environmental record is less than stellar. His reason for writing, however, is that he’s miffed at the Sierra Club, of whom he says, “I don’t endorse its Washington-based approach of lawsuits and partisanship.” Apparently the Sierra Club is trying to stop some timber harvesting in the White Mountains. One wouldn’t know that from reading Sununu’s editorial, however. He states that the Sierra Club is trying to stop timber harvesting, a calculated move to ensure that the average UL reader reads ALL timber harvesting, without him actually saying so.

Senator Sununu is running for re-election in 2008. He is running against former Governor Jeanne Shaheen. We last saw this same election matchup in 2002, the year of the infamous GOP phone jamming incident. Governor Shaheen was endorsed recently by the Sierra Club, which has the GOP in a tizzy. I don’t remember the Sierra Club’s endorsement of Charlie Bass in 2006 as generating any GOP commentary. Our very own local state Representative Gene Chandler had a letter to the editor in the Conway Sun this week, and that same letter was sent out to (the erroneously named) Foster’s Daily Democrat. Chandler went on at great length about out-of-state interests making decisions for NH, the subtext, of course, being that Shaheen is the tool of the aforementioned out-of-state interests. The implication is of course that conversely Senator Sununu is not a tool of out-of-state interests.

That, of course, would be incorrect. Take a trip to and find out where Sununu’s campaign funds are coming from. HINT: not NH. Over 75% of Sununu’s contributions come from out of state. They come from places like Washington (that place of lawsuits and partisanship), New York, Houston, Maryland, and Virginia. His top contributor is the Club for Growth PAC. The Club for Growth is so firmly entrenched in reality that there’s a commentary on their website saying George Bush may turn out to be a top economic forecaster. Other contributors include FMR Corp, an investment and wealth management company, Citigroup, Goldman-Sachs, AT&T, and Verizon. The top four industries who have contributed to Sununu’s campaign thus far are: Securities and Investment, Insurance, Leadership PACs and Lobbyists.

Senator Sununu has said that he wants to see more research on climate change before he joins the rest of the world in recognizing that there is such a thing. Thousands of scientists around the world have issued reports saying they believe humans are contributing to climate change. Sununu isn’t buying that. He says we need to put more money into research to understand how different greenhouse gasses affect long-term global temperature. Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farms was quoted in 2007 as saying, “At this point there are only about three people on the planet who are denying that humans are heating our planet. Two of them are in the White House, and the other one is Senator Sununu.”

Senator Judd Gregg has acknowledged he seriousness of climate change, pointing out that overwhelming scientific evidence cannot be ignored. Sununu has said that he supports making all cars and light trucks meet fuel-efficiency standards - yet he’s consistently voted against increasing CAFE standards both as a Senator and a Congressman. In 2003 he voted against the Climate Stewardship Act, which would have created a cap-and-trade program. Gregg voted for it.

This regressive viewpoint puts him squarely at odds with most of his NH constituents. In 2003, 2004, and 2005 he voted against bipartisan proposals to reduce greenhouse emissions. In 2006 he opposed cutting carbon emissions, saying the environmental impact would be minimal but the costs to business would be substantial. After Hurricane Katrina, he voted against a bill that would have made gas-price gouging a federal crime.

Senator Sununu voted with George Bush 90% of the time. In early December 2007, he voted against a modest increase in LIHEAP funds, which would have eased the burden of heating costs for some NH families over the course of this long NH winter. He chose to side with out-of-state interests, rather than represent the in-state interests he’s supposed to be concerning himself with.

At the Carroll County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner, a thank you letter (and bumper sticker) signed by Henry Mock, was handed out, thanking Sununu for voting against “higher energy taxes.” The vote mentioned was not about higher energy taxes, it was about removing $13 billion in taxpayer subsidies to the oil and gas companies. The money would have been used to create renewable energy incentives and 3 million green jobs. It was a part of the tax package on the Energy Security and Independence Act. Sununu cast the deciding vote against it. He’s received over $210,000 from the oil and gas lobby, including a contribution from Chevron the day of the vote.

Governor Shaheen is currently ahead of Senator Sununu in the polls. Senator Sununu is in danger of losing his job. He’s supported an extremely unpopular president (22% approval ratings) 90% of the time. He’s been a strong supporter of the war in Iraq. He’s told businessmen in Concord to stop complaining about the high costs of health care, because nothing can be done about it. At every opportunity, John Sununu shows us just how out of touch he is with the voters of NH. He’s doing real well, though, with those out of state interests.

"The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously."  Hubert Humphrey, on lobbyists

The ad pictured at the top was done by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

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