Paul Hodes’ Opinion: Sununu’s Just Like Trump

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Former Congressman Paul Hodes


Gov. Chris Sununu says he’s a Trump guy “through and through.” While Sununu’s style and personality differ from Trump’s, he’s brought Trump’s corrupt agenda to the corner office. Just like Trump, Chris Sununu has been abusing his office for profit, enriching his donors, himself, his family, at the expense of taxpayers.

First, just like Trump, it’s “pay for play” in the corner office. He’s taken over $1 million from corporations and their PACs and done their bidding in the corner office. During the pandemic, when Granite Staters need help and deserve integrity, Sununu quietly doled out taxpayer funded, no-bid contracts to his big donors. Sununu gave over $3 million to ConvenientMD, whose co-founder hosted a political fundraiser for Sununu’s campaign at the governor’s house last year. Sununu also gave a company owned by the former Chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party a no-bid contract worth over $450,000.

That former Republican Party Chair has hosted two fundraisers for Sununu after he received a no-bid contract. When Sununu was asked about these no-bid contracts, Sununu responded by saying, “I don’t care; we don’t ask those questions.” Sununu also directed tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars meant for COVID-19 relief to crisis pregnancy centers that push dangerous, anti-choice messaging and restrict women’s health care choices. Just like Trump, Sununu has used his office to help his corporate special interest donors and not Granite Staters.

Second, just like Trump, Sununu has used his position to benefit himself and his family. Sununu singled out his family’s Waterville Valley ski lodge for special tax breaks – all paid for by taxpayers. Sununu’s designation of Waterville Valley, home to his family’s ski resort business, as an Opportunity Zone also raises serious questions about whether any of the 78 low-income eligible New Hampshire communities were more deserving of an economic boost but were denied because of Sununu’s personal and financial connections to Waterville Valley.

An analysis of all low-income eligible tracts found that 50 census tracts denied Opportunity Zone status have a higher poverty rate than Waterville Valley’s tract, and 45 census tracts denied this special tax designation have a lower median household income than Waterville Valley’s tract. What did Waterville Valley have that those communities denied didn’t have? The Sununu family.

And finally, just like Trump, Sununu refuses to release his tax returns, raising serious questions about what conflicts-of-interest he might be hiding. Trump refused to release his tax returns after saying for years that he would if he ran. We found out why Trump hid his tax returns from public view, he’s paid little in taxes and he’s so deep in debt it’s a national security risk. But, we don’t have answers for what potential conflicts-of-interest Sununu has when making decisions that affect all Granite Staters. What is Sununu trying to hide? Is it additional income he’s made since he took a $31,000 government raise while blocking a minimum wage for Granite Staters?

 Or, is it that his family’s close business relationships are tainted by foreign involvement? Just like Trump, Sununu’s family’s business investments, and political donations come from special interests with connections to countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, China, Syria and many other foreign powers. Sununu even absconded from the Corner Office for a week and took a secretive trip to Dubai — funded by a foreign entity — without disclosing details of the trip to taxpayers. Secrecy, special favors for donors, and a “so-what” approach to integrity have no place in the oval office or in New Hampshire’s corner office.

Corruption stinks. We need a governor who is determined to make Concord work for Granite Staters, not for special interests. Dan Feltes led the fight to pass strong anti-corruption bills in the State Senate. As governor, Dan will increase government transparency, limit the influence of money in politics, and curtail the rank abuse of office we’ve seen from Donald Trump and his guy, Chris Sununu.

Paul Hodes is a Democrat from Concord who served in the U.S. House from 2007-2011. He was the author of the landmark bi-partisan healthcare reform legislation “Michelle’s Law.” He wrote and passed the legislation establishing the Northern Border Regional Commission and also focused on small business and renewable energy issues, including passage of the first federal tax credit for heating with wood. He was elected president of the historic freshman class of 2006 and was a national co-chair of the Obama for President campaign in 2008. Congressman Hodes was the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire in 2010, and has an extensive background in law, business, the arts and not-for-profit institutional leadership. He serves on the National Council on the Arts. He is co-host of “Off the Record” on WKXL AM-FM. He is of counsel to Shaheen & Gordon, P.A., a member of Shanti Energy, LLC and the lead guitarist for the roots rock band, Calamity Jane.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

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