As a Candidate in 2016, Chris Sununu Told Voters He’d Support Universal Background Checks and Gun Violence Prevention Measures; As Governor, A Different Story (Video)

Governor Sununu punted on universal background checks, repealed nearly 100 year old concealed carry law, and supports guns in schools despite outcry from students, educators, and parents

Concord, NH –As a Gubernatorial candidate in 2016, Chris Sununu told voters that he’d support universal background checks and other measures to protect Granite Staters, but his record in office tells a very different story.

Candidate Chris Sununu, 2016: “I do also support universal background checks, where appropriate. To the point of the question, it’s a very important question, when you’re dealing with domestic violence issues, we must be standing up. Both at the local level and at the state level to protect those and families who would be held at risk. That’s one of the first and foremost responsibilities of government. It;s health and safety of individuals. For standing up for them, providing support and making sure they know that we will support them at every turn. So whether it’s limiting guns and making sure that those who would commit violence in homes, that we’re providing those correct background checks, that we’re providing those correct checks and balances – that’s important because it’s important to families, it’s important to the victims.” (Video: NH1 Gubernatorial Debate 2016)

Governor Chris Sununu: “Look, I think the laws we have on firearms in the state are pretty darn good and I’m not looking for any additional restrictions at this time.” (Valley News, Sununu: Gun Laws Fine As Is, 2/9/18) “Speaking to a group of reporters on Wednesday, Gov. Chris Sununu would not say whether he  supports any changes to state-level gun laws in the aftermath of the mass shooting that claimed 17 lives at a Florida high school last week. “I’ve always said and I firmly believe, New Hampshire has some pretty good firearms regulations and laws on the books, I just think we have a tradition of doing this pretty well,” Sununu said.” (NHPR, In Wake of Parkland Shooting, Sununu Says Congress is Right Place to Tackle Gun Reform, 2/21/18) Sununu said prior to the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Feb. 14 that he believes the state’s firearms laws are sufficient and he is not in favor of additional restrictions. He reiterated his position after the shootings, saying that gun laws should be debated and decided by Congress. (WMUR, Marchand reveals plan to reduce gun violence, 2/27/18)

As Governor, Chris Sununu punted on closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of the hands of felons and domestic abusers, repealed a nearly 100-year old concealed carry law despite public safety concerns voiced by local law enforcement, and opposed legislation to keep guns out of our children’s schools. Sununu called our lax gun laws “pretty darn good” and doubled down on that sentiment again last week in the WMUR Gubernatorial Debate.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins: “Governor Sununu has an opportunity to join a growing bipartisan group of governors around the country who recognize that gun violence is a serious public health issue and are taking steps to address it. Instead, he continues to side with the corporate gun lobby over the health and safety of Granite Staters.”

Since 2009, Granite State Progress has tracked and weighed in on firearms policy at the state and federal level, and convenes the New Hampshire Gun Violence Prevention Coalition.

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Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

NH Attorney General’s Office Investigating Complaint Chris Sununu’s Campaign Accepted Nearly $20,000 in Illegal Campaign Contributions

NH Attorney General’s office confirmed that an investigation has been opened and Chris Sununu’s campaign has been asked to respond

Concord, NH – The NH Attorney General’s office has opened an investigation on Granite State Progress’ election complaint that the candidate committee Friends of Chris Sununu accepted nearly $20,000 in unlawful contributions from partnerships. The Sununu campaign has been forwarded a copy of the complaint and asked to respond.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins: “We are pleased that the Attorney General’s office is looking into these serious violations by Chris Sununu’s campaign. We call on Governor Sununu to return the illegal contributions immediately.”

In an interview with WMUR Primary Source this week, Sununu’s campaign manager Paul Collins called the donations “perfectly legal” and maintained that ‘limited partnerships and limited liability partnerships are not the same as partnerships’ despite NH RSA’s that state otherwise. Granite State Progress sent a follow-up letter to the NH Attorney General’s office noting that the statements raise serious concerns that the Sununu campaign 1) intends to spend the funds despite New Hampshire statutes clearly deeming them inappropriate; 2) will continue to accept prohibited partnership contributions; and 3) other partnerships and unions restricted under RSA 664:4, and the candidate campaigns they may support, are at a disadvantage if they continue to follow the law as written while the Friends of Chris Sununu accepts and uses prohibited funds.

A copy of the previous press release and complaint can be found here.

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Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

Chris Sununu’s Campaign Accepted Nearly $20,000 in Illegal Campaign Contributions

Granite State Progress files election complaint with AG’s office

Concord, NH – Today Granite State Progress filed an election law complaint citing that the candidate committee Friends of Chris Sununu has accepted nearly $20,000 in unlawful contributions from partnerships.

New Hampshire law squarely prohibits contributions by partnerships. RSA 664:4, II prohibits donations from partnerships or by any partner acting in behalf of such partnership. Partnership is defined under New Hampshire law in RSA 304-A:6 to include limited liability partnerships (LLPs). Sununu’s campaign accepted $18,250.00 in partnership donations this cycle – including $7,000 from a subsidiary of NextEra Energy.

Friends of Chris Sununu Campaign Finance Report June 7, 2017

Gexa Energy, LP contribution made 1/24/17 in amount of $7,000

Nixon Peabody, LLP contribution made 5/8/17 in amount of $4,250

Friends of Chris Sununu Campaign Filing, December 6, 2017

Keegan Werlin, LLP contribution made 9/15/17 in amount of $7,000

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins: “We call on Governor Sununu to immediately return these illegal campaign contributions. These funds should not be used to influence the election.”

A copy of the complaint can be read here: Election Law Complaint – Chris Sununu’s Campaign Accepted Nearly $20,000 in Illegal Campaign Contributions, 11.1.18

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Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

“No Soup for SNAP” Actions Call on Congressional Delegation, Governor Sununu to Protect Food Access as Committee of Conference Meets to Determine Fate of Food Stamps

Cross-posted with Granite State Progress Education Fund

Nashua, NH – As a Congressional committee of conference met for the first time yesterday to discuss the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as “SNAP” or food stamps, Granite State advocates kicked-off a series of events in local communities to highlight the importance of the hunger prevention program for Granite State families.

“SNAP has been called ‘the cornerstone of the nation’s nutrition safety net’ and is one of the most important programs in place to prevent hunger and food insecurity in the United States,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress Education Fund. “SNAP increases food security for 88,692 Granite State adults and children, but new proposed barriers within the House farm bill would limit access for those individuals who rely on the program to feed their families. We call on our Congressional delegation to continue to speak out in support of SNAP, and for Governor Sununu to raise his voice as well in support of the much better Senate version. No Granite Stater should go hungry.”

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the House farm bill completely eliminates or reduces SNAP benefits for more than 2 million people, particularly low-income working families with children. Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster rejected the damaging House version of the bill; Kuster serves on the committee of conference between the House and Senate to determine the final structure of SNAP benefits going forward.

Local leaders familiar with SNAP and its benefits spoke during the event about the importance of protecting the program:

Michael Reinke, Executive Director, Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter: “We are here because 11 percent of Hillsborough County is living in poverty today. We know that 40% of the kids in Nashua Public Schools, or 4,000 children, receive free or reduced lunch. We know according to Feed America that 10 percent of seniors in Nashua are food insecure. Providing access to food really is a measure of our society. We are about making sure our society comes together to help people who are the most vulnerable or the most at risk. And when our society comes together to support one another, we are stronger. Part of the way we can support each other is to make sure people have access to the food they need to make them healthy and strong.”

Lisa Beaudoin, Executive Director, ABLE New Hampshire: “People with disabilities experience disproportionately higher rates of poverty, hunger and food insecurity in our nation and right here in New Hampshire. Nearly 47% of low income households with a member unable to work due to disability participate in SNAP. SNAP is a critical lifesaver to people with disabilities. Ill-defined work requirements on people with disabilities who already face cruel barriers to employment perpetuates the cycles of poverty, hunger, and food insecurity.”

Kimmie Dettore, Manager, Revive Recovery Center: “There are barriers already in place when you’re a person in recovery. What they consider early recovery is the first year. You are discharged from a hospital, from a behavioral health center or a rehabilitation program after anywhere from a week to 3 months. And you’re sent out and you haven’t been working. You don’t have the same job, you no longer live in the same location, and you’ve got to rebuild your foundation to have success as a citizen and as an individual. To know where your community is at and where you fit in. But what platform do you have without your health? How can you make any of that progress without your physical health? You need food to survive. We all need food to survive.”

Advocates note that Granite Staters working in jobs with low-wages, irregular schedules, or a lack of key benefits such as paid sick leave or family and medical leave insurance are also more likely to experience food insecurity. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, SNAP kept 8.4 million people out of poverty in 2015, including 3.8 million children.

The “No Soup for SNAP” action included a small art installation of 88 empty soup cans, each can representing 1,000 Granite Staters who utilize SNAP, on display in front of City Hall in Nashua, where organizers collected petitions and heard personal stories from Nashua residents impacted by SNAP. The petitions are being collected in major cities and online over the next two weeks.

The next No Soup for SNAP action is scheduled for Portsmouth’s Market Square on Friday, September 7th at 11:15 AM.

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SNAP to Health, https://www.snaptohealth.org/snap/the-real-benefits-of-the-snap-program/

Students, Educators, Gun Violence Prevention Advocates React to Governor Sununu’s School Safety Preparedness Task Force Report

Concord, NH – Today, students, educators, and gun violence prevention advocates hosted a press call to react to Governor Sununu’s School Safety Preparedness Task Force, which was released late afternoon on Friday, June 29th ahead of the July 4th holiday. Key concerns include:

  • Report skims over or avoids policy solutions to keep firearms out of schools and out of the hands of dangerous individuals (see page 16)
  • Report falsely states public opinion is divided on background checks legislation and other measures, when 9 out of 10 Granite Staters have supported them for the last 5 years (see page 16)
  • Report kicks the can down the road on these issues by recommending more study instead of citing ample data for immediate action steps (see legislative recommendation #2)

“Governor Sununu was very clear in his directive that task force members should avoid suggesting any policies that would conflict with the Governor’s firm stance of allowing anyone to carry a gun in New Hampshire, anywhere and at any time,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “But the Governor’s position is flat out wrong, and jeopardizes public safety. Real efforts should be taken to reduce the ever-present and justified fear of school shootings which students are forced to face every day.”

Reactions from students, educators, and gun violence prevention advocates:

Jonathan Weinberg, Concord High ’18 and Fellow, Granite State Progress: “As a student, school safety is important to me, which is why I was interested to see what NH was going to do to keep school environments safe. The report presented by the School Safety Preparedness Task Force attempted to disguise school related violence as a result of misplaced kindness within school communities. What I mean by that is the idea that just being nicer to one another will eliminate these atrocities, when we know that is not true and that easy access to firearms — especially high-capacity or military assault style weapons — is a much larger threat to public safety. I’m also disappointed that on page 32, the report discusses a citizen’s right to bear arms on a school campus and how it cannot be impeded. This mindset ignores the reality that guns in the hands of dangerous individuals and guns in school are the problem when it comes to mass school shootings, and inclusion of this misleading statement in the report shows the Governor and task force are not addressing the root of student safety concerns. I sincerely hope that we all can realize that gun violence prevention is not a partisan issue, but a matter of protecting our students, teachers, custodial staff, and administrators in schools. Governor Sununu should have never prevented his task force from exploring all aspects of school shootings and recommending appropriate measures to prevent a tragedy in New Hampshire.”

Jennifer White, Hopkinton High ’19 and Fellow, Granite State Progress: “One of the biggest problems that I saw arise this past year with the heightened discussions about school safety, was the idea that other students are to blame for school shootings when the attacker is a current or former student. This idea is simply a way to avoid addressing the clear root of the problem, which is our limited gun violence prevention laws, and blame the victims of these horrific events that they had no way to prevent. One of the suggestions outlined in the Task Force Report is the expansion of mental health programs in New Hampshire schools, including the Multi-Tiered System for Support and Behavioral Health, and the Positive Behavior Intervention System. These programs are focused on helping students who show signs of mental health concerns, in order to help prevent violence. The mental health of our students is, of course, extremely important, and the expansion of these types of programs would be great. However, it is also extremely important to realize that expansion of these programs likely will not noticeably contribute to the overall safety of schools. The relationship between gun violence and mental health is not just that people aren’t getting the help they need, but rather that regardless of this, they have quite easy access to such dangerous weapons when they are not in a state to safely operate them.

Rep. Katherine Rogers (D-Concord), Prime Sponsor of Background Checks and Other Public Safety Laws: “Members of the NH legislature have explored options to expand our background checks, and also introduced legislation to increase liability for safe storage of firearms, keep firearms out of sensitive public places like elementary and high schools, establishments that serve alcohol, large sporting venues, places of worship, polling locations, and health care facilities. These common sense measures have broad public support, but lack the political will of politicians who put special interests ahead of the safety of students and constituents. These bills will be introduced again this next legislative session. We ask that Governor Sununu and the task force look at the legislation members of the General Court have introduced over the years, and find ways to work with us to advance smart, principled policies that respect 2nd Amendment rights while keeping our communities safe.”

Megan Tuttle, President of NEA-New Hampshire:Recommendation 33, relative to the implementation of a school marshal program, would be a dangerous undertaking by any school community in New Hampshire. This initiative would enable school districts to employ, “an armed individual approved by the school and local police department but [not] a sworn law enforcement officer.” This may seem like a quick solution to combat active shooter situations; however it would, in reality, put students, teachers, and administrators’ lives in the hands of unqualified, armed person(s). It is also important to note the additional responsibility placed on a school district from this program, aforementioned in the report, “however, because a school marshal is neither a school resource officer nor a professional security contractor, an additional burden may be placed on a school or school district in assuring that the individual is trained to operate in a school environment.”

Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress: “It is incredible that a task force report on school safety does not make an immediate recommendation for gun free schools in New Hampshire. The report recommends a “See Something, Say Something” style campaign for warning signs or pre-indicators. But Governor Sununu thinks school districts and local law enforcement should stand down when they see a gunman in a school, until that person opens fire. The task force report itself indicates that most mass shootings are over within 5 minutes, and that we measure the safety of students and the chances of survival in seconds. We cannot issue a report for the State of New Hampshire that asks educators and students to do one thing, then handcuffs them from being able to take action to protect themselves and their schools. We call on Governor Sununu and the School Safety Preparedness Task Force to advocate for state legislation in 2019 that clarifies local school districts can and should enforce gun free schools. This issue could also be resolved quickly by having the Attorney General clarify that the federal law applies here and that school districts and local law enforcement can and absolutely should enforce gun free schools.”

Jonathan and Jennifer noted that students collected hundreds of petitions that were submitted to Governor Sununu on gun free schools and other measures, but the Governor did not respond and did not stand with students on these critical public safety measures.

“Governor Sununu has taken very limited action on the repeated attempts of students who have been involved with the gun violence prevention movement, to meet with him and discuss the issue. We call on the Governor to hold a forum with students from the New Hampshire Social Justice League, and to acknowledge and address concerns from students who have been impacted enough by this issue to make them want to fight for change,” Jennifer said.

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