It’s safe to say Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.) did not have a good day yesterday. Rocked by a campaign-finance scandal, the Republican congressman faced calls for his resignation from U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, state Senate President Chuck Morse, state House Speaker Shawn Jasper, and Executive Councilor Chris Sununu. All four of these officials are Republicans.
New Hampshire’s WMUR reported overnight, however, that Guinta’s state party, as a whole, is not yet ready to call for his ouster.
The state Republican Party’s Executive Committee on Monday night declined to call for U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta’s resignation over his well-publicized campaign finance issues, saying that he is ultimately accountable to his constituents.Guinta telephoned into the meeting of the party’s top officials while his chief of staff, Jay Ruais, was in the room for the closed door session…. The specific question of calling on Guinta to resign was not presented for a vote, according to sources familiar with the meeting.
The party committee, by majority vote, endorsed a statement that concluded Guinta is “accountable to his constituents … and has assured us he will continue to be available to answer their questions.”
Answering any questions would be a step forward for the GOP congressman. Roll Call reported last night that it pressed Guinta yesterday for a defense, but he had very little to say:
CQ Roll Call caught up with Guinta Monday evening as he walked to House votes. And despite a number of lingering issues associated with his alleged violation of Federal Election Commission rules in 2009 and 2010 – Was the money he loaned to his campaign, as he still contends, actually his? If so, what is Guinta apologizing for? – the New Hampshire Republican would not go off-script when asked about his agreement to pay a $15,000 penalty to the FEC and repay $355,000 to his parents, who gave him $381,000 in 10 checks between June 2009 and September 2010.
To recap for those who missed yesterday’s report, in 2010, looking to boost his campaign, Guinta loaned himself $355,000, which wouldn’t have been particularly controversial, except for the fact that his disclosure forms suggested he didn’t have $355,000. He said at the time it was from a previously unreported bank account and amended his financial disclosure forms.
Guinta repeatedly denied that he received the money from his parents, but the Federal Election Commission found that those denials weren’t true. The congressman justifies his actions by saying he’d put his own money over the years into his parents’ account – so he considered it his money.
Guinta is now apologizing for the whole mess, but since he maintains that he’s done nothing wrong, it’s not entirely clear what he’s apologizing for. More from the Roll Call piece:
If he is simply saying sorry for having to amend a financial disclosure statement to note a savings account with up to $500,000 in it, his apology is neither new nor all that sincere. Guinta continues to say the money he lent to his campaign was his. “I was personally responsible for funds exceeding the amount I loaned the 2010 campaign,” he said in his apology.But that would seem to be at odds with the settlement agreement Guinta agreed to, which states that the Guinta campaign accepted excessive contributions in violation of FEC rules.
Asked for an explanation, Guinta replied, “My statement will speak for itself,” or some variation of that phrase, 15 times.
National Journal added, “Behind the scenes, New Hampshire Republicans are plotting their strategy to keep one of the country’s most volatile swing seats and run a strong coordinated campaign with the GOP presidential nominee and Ayotte in 2016 – and Guinta does not factor into their plans.”