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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Shea-Porter questions foe’s records

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, seeking her third term in office, called Monday for her opponent, former Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta, to release his bank records to better explain his finances to voters.

Guinta, the Republican nominee in the 1st Congressional District, has drawn heat throughout the campaign after he initially failed to include a bank account between $300,000 and $500,000 in his federal campaign filings.

Calling the omission an oversight, Guinta quickly updated the filings to show that he loaned himself $245,000 for the campaign. “I made a very simple error,” he said last month in a debate leading up to the Sept. 10 primary election.

But moving toward November’s general election, opponents have continued to paint the issue as a matter of ethics, saying Guinta’s failure to report and explain the account calls into question his judgment and his connections.

“It’s about time that Frank Guinta owns up to who’s behind the bank account,” Robert Moller, Shea-Porter’s campaign manager, said Monday. “It’s suspicious, and people should want to know where the money came from.”

Responding to Shea-Porter’s request, officials from the Guinta campaign said the matter is political posturing and Shea-Porter, a Rochester Democrat, is looking to draw attention away from legislative record.

“Congresswoman Shea-Porter is scared to talk about her failed record in Washington and is desperate to avoid it,” Guinta spokesman Brett Bosse wrote Monday in a statement. “She’s afraid to talk about voting for the Obamacare takeover and failed stimulus.”

But other opponents across the state disagree. Last week, officials from the state Democratic Party filed formal complaints with the Federal Elections Commission and the clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, claiming that Guinta’s personal contributions to his campaign don’t match his personal income or assets.

As mayor of Manchester from 2006-10, Guinta made an annual salary of $72,000, according to the complaints.

Neither the Elections Commission nor the House Clerk’s office has yet responded to complaints, according to Michael Brunelle, executive director of the state Democratic Party.

“The numbers really don’t add up and the math is fuzzy at best,” Brunelle said Monday. “He never lists having all kinds of properties, never lists having all kinds of income and assets, and all of a sudden, he has (that much money) to contribute.

“The fact of the matter is that if Frank Guinta wants to put this to be forever behind him, all he has to do is release his bank statements,” Brunelle said.

Federal campaign reports, filed at the end of September, show that Guinta has collected about $910,000 this campaign cycle, including the $245,000 he loaned the campaign, and he has about $158,000 left on-hand.

Shea-Porter’s campaign has taken in about $997,000 with no personal loans, according to the Federal Elections Commission, and as of the end of August, she had about $529,000 left on-hand.

An opinion poll released last week by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center shows Guinta ahead with the support of 49 percent of the voters; 39 percent said they support Shea-Porter.

“(This bank account matter) is a serious issue, and it’s certainly something voters can relate to,” said Andrew Smith, a professor of political science and director of the Survey Center. “It’s something Mayor Guinta hasn’t done a good enough job explaining, and until he does, it’s something that’s certainly fair game (for Shea-Porter).”

Jake Berry can be reached at 594-6402 or