Op-Ed: Let’s Stop Billionaires From Taking Over Our NH State Government

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Leonard Witt lives in Sandwich, NH

By Leonard Witt

I am worried about the fate of some GOP NH state legislators. They voted against HB 1634 that would have allowed the government to force low- and middle-income taxpayers to underwrite our state’s richest children’s private school education. 

Those brave Republicans — Karel Crawford (R-Moultonborough), Joseph Guthrie (R- Hampstead), Travis O’Hara (R- Belmont), John Sytek (R- Salem) and Dan Wolf ( R-Newbury), Jim Fedolfi, R-Hollis, David Milz, R-Derry, joined the Democrats who voted against and stopped this latest uncapped give away to the rich.  See correction below.

Now they could pay a political price, not pushed by their Republican constituents but by hundreds of thousands of dollars that will be sent this way from billionaires to push out anyone who defies their extremist mandates. 

In our state the divisive dark money is being funneled through Texas-based Young Americans for Liberty (YAL). Last cycle they invested tens of thousand dollars to unseat moderate Republicans like Brodie Deshaies from Wolfeboro. The YAL director in charge of that unseating bragged how YAL ousted RINOs in the primaries and won more than 50 NH house seat races overall.  Remember that bragging is coming from Texas operatives, supported by at least $1.4 million from billionaire Charles Koch’s family foundation. 

This state takeover by billionaires is insidious and everywhere. Texas also tried to push a similar vouchers for the rich bill. It failed because 16 rural Republicans refused to vote for it. They are ultraconservatives from rural towns where the local schools help define who the people are and hold their already fragile communities together. They rightfully worried that the vouchers would pull just enough students away that the public schools could no longer be financially viable. 

According to the Dallas Morning News, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was outraged that his own GOP state house representatives would vote to protect their local public schools and he pushed to primary every one of them out of office.  

The push is being enabled by out-of-state billionaire Jeff Yass, who was an early investor in TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance. Yass is worth some $26 billion dollars. 

He is on a mission to kill off public schools. So he, according to the Dallas Morning News, invested $6 million to help unseat these 16 conservative GOP members. It is similar to what happened to Deshaies here and what is happening across New Hampshire. 

Unfortunately, for the rural Republican lawmakers, the billionaire’s support worked. The Texas Tribune reported: “Gov. Greg Abbott succeeded in knocking off nine fellow Republicans who opposed vouchers in the House during last year’s legislative sessions. More could fall in the May runoffs, placing his signature priority in range in 2025.”

This is no longer an argument about vouchers and private, religious and homeschooling, it is really a battle about who runs New Hampshire and other state governments. The people or radical politicians supported by the billionaires. 

They are using the public school issue to weed out all elected officials who do not 100 percent follow their ideology. The YAL ideology is “miniscule” government meaning no public schools, no Social Security, no Medicare, no Medicaid, no US Post Offices, no county nursing homes and no public land. 

The out of state billionaires aim to destroy the public institutions that provide stability to small rural communities. In our small rural town of Sandwich, NH, it would mean closing our elementary school, the post office, the county nursing home and selling off the surrounding national forests to private investors – probably the billionaires. 

Will we allow them to rule our political bodies and squish any free thinking man and woman of conscience who runs for office, or do we, the people, take back control of our state government?  

In Belknap County last election cycle, Republicans, Democrats and Independents endorsed a slate of moderate candidates to counter their county’s extremists. It worked; they got rid of extremists like Mike Sylvia, who wanted New Hampshire to secede from the USA. Now that model or a similar model that brings together people across parties must be used to stand up to the out of state billionaires. It is our Republican Party. It is our state, not theirs, at least not yet. 

Let’s work to use grassroots organizing to stop billionaires who think their tax-free money can buy anything including the will of the people of New Hampshire. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story mistakenly included Rep. Maureen Mooney, R- Merrimack, as opposing HB1634 and left off Jim Fedolfi, R-Hollis and David Milz, R-Derryas voting against HB 1634.

Leonard Witt began his 50-year journalism career at the Carroll County Independent in 1972. He’s now retired in Sandwich, New Hampshire, where he is an at-large delegate of the Carroll County Democratic Committee. His opinions here are his alone. 

Disclaimer: InDepthNH.org takes no position on candidates or politics but welcomes diverse opinions at nancywestnews@gmail.com.

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