A recent column by former Representative Jim Splaine criticizing Colin Van Ostern for campaigning for Secretary of State contains numerous factual errors and significant misrepresentations.
Colin is running against an incumbent Secretary of State who has been in office for 42 years, who has a staff of over 100 employees on state payroll. To suggest it should be illegal for someone to raise grassroots donations in order to organize and educate legislators and citizens about the key issues of the office, and get one’s message out, is to suggest the incumbent should be Secretary for life. That’s not democracy. No one is entitled to this job.
To be clear about the facts:
Colin has volunteered thousands of hours, as have dozens of other New Hampshire volunteers helping this effort. Our campaign has only three young paid staff, including myself, whose primary work has been to organize and build dozens of public forums with hundreds of legislative candidates on voting rights issues all across New Hampshire this summer and fall.
Colin has been explicit since day one that his campaign is nonpartisan and focused on advancing issues of free & fair elections, and providing a platform for legislators and candidates who share these values, regardless of party.
This work was funded only with fully-transparent private contributions: 82% of contributions were $100 or less; 89% were from NH; zero were from any PAC, corporation, or special interest.
Aside from staff payroll and healthcare benefits, the primary expenses of the effort have been on online organizing help, event notices, stamps, printing, and online list-building organizing work so that we could successfully host over 200 state legislative candidates at public forums on voting rights & civic engagement in dozens of libraries, living rooms, and senior centers across the state — with dozens of engaged citizens at each. This is how democracy works.
It is understandable that Rep. Splaine wants to help his longtime friend Secretary Gardner, but publishing errors and smears do not reflect well on either man, especially as Splaine is escorting Secretary Gardner around to meet with state legislators about his re-election campaign at the same time.
Colin is not going to trade personal attacks and smears like these, and will instead focus on the real issues at play in the election for Secretary of State: how we can better protect the rights of every eligible voter; end the confusion and errors and political agenda coming from the SoS office today; and run a modern, accountable Secretary of State’s office. To read about his detailed, positive, and nonpartisan policy proposals for strengthening the office, see here: http://vanostern.com/our-platform-free-fair-new-hampshire/
Shannon MacLeod, Executive Director of Free & Fair New Hampshire
Views expressed in columns and opinion pieces are those of the author and do not reflect those of InDepthNH.org.