AG won't recuse himself from probe of voter fraud allegedly facilitated by Portsmouth senator
CONCORD -- The state Republican Party Wednesday asked the attorney general to investigate allegations of voter fraud, charging that a Democratic state senator boarded five people at her home who worked on campaigns, voted in the state, and then quickly moved out of state.
The GOP also cited reports that Alana Biden, the niece of Vice President Joseph Biden, worked in the state last year, voted in Manchester on election day and then left the state for New York.
Democrats countered that the practice of campaign workers coming to and voting in the state and then quickly moving on works both ways. They cited two Republicans who worked on Mitt Romney's campaign who voted in the state and later left. Republicans said the examples cited by the Democrats are bogus.
State GOP chair Jennifer Horn, in a letter to Attorney General Joseph Foster, asked for an investigation of her contention that Democratic state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, the vice chairman of the state Democratic Party, "is aiding and abetting individuals who are undermining New Hampshire law and allowing her home address to be used as a sanctuary for voter fraud."
Clark said in a statement, "By and large, the young people who stayed with me were committed to New Hampshire, but given their age, whether they intended to stay is impossible to predict."
Horn also asked Foster to recuse himself from the probe because he formerly served with fellow Democrat Fuller Clark in the state Senate.
Foster, however, told UnionLeader.com he will not step aside.
The attorney general said in an interview, "I take conflict seriously, as I noted in my confirmation hearing, and if I didn't think I could impartially look into a matter, I would recuse myself.
"But to use as a touchstone people I served with over the years in the legislative branch would put me in a situation of having to recuse myself from a very long list of folks, including the Senate President, the Speaker, the mayor of Manchester, the mayor of Nashua and the governor," Foster said. "So I won't be recusing myself."
Regarding the Horn request, he said, "We will review it like any matter coming in from the outside world."
He also declined to speculate on "the hypothetical of what does domicile mean."
State law allows "every inhabitant of the state" who is a United States citizen, "having a single established domicile for voting purposes" to vote.
The law defines "domicile for voting purposes" as "that one place where a person, more than any other place, has established a physical presence and manifests an intent to maintain a single continuous presence for domestic, social and civil purposes relevant to participating in democratic self-government."
Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said that under the law, "the problem is proving a state of mind or the true intent" of the voter."
He said the issue is being addressed in a court case challenging the state's voter registration requirements and a decision may give lawmakers guidance before the beginning of the next legislative session in January.
"This is not new when it comes to domicile and establishing the intent to make New Hampshire your domicile," said Scanlan. "Some say it's kind of a state of mind."
Scanlan said some people could move to New Hampshire with the intent of staying, and then vote, "but then some event happens that forces them to change that decision and off they go.
"On the other extreme is, you have a campaign rolling through and you have someone maybe even paid by the campaign to come to New Hampshire for a day or two to work the polls and while they're here they vote even though they know they are moving on to the next state," he said. "And then there are cases in between.
"The problem is proving that state of mind or the true intent of that person's willingness to establish a domicile here," Scanlan said. "Domicile is an annual issue before the Legislature."
The Republicans produced voting records maintained by the Secretary of State's office, and available to be purchased by the political parties, first reported by WMUR television, showing eight voters at Fuller Clark's house.
Three of them are Fuller Clark, her husband and their son. Two others voted in the 2012 general election before moving on, one voted in 2012 by absentee ballot and two voted in the 2008 elections listing her home as their address.
Democratic Party spokesman Harrell Kirstein pointed out that two Rommey campaign workers, including his state campaign director, voted in New Hampshire before moving on.
The director, Phil Valenziano, listed 16 Sagamore St., Manchester, as his address when he voted in the September state primary and November general election.
He is now working on a campaign in Iowa.
But state GOP spokesman Ryan Williams said Valenziano stayed in New Hampshire for several months after the election and sought the post of state GOP executive director, showing, he said, an "intent" to stay in the state.
When Valenziano not get that job, he moved on, Williams noted.
Valenziano's "LinkedIn" page says he started with political committee of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad in May 2013.
Kirstein cited Marian Ward, who is listed as having voted using the address of a Concord home owned by Republican activist Kerry Marsh in 2012. Also renting an apartment at that address was David Chesley, who currently works for the state GOP.
Ward managed the office of Ron Paul's New Hampshire presidential campaign until February 2012 and then remained in the state as an operative in Romney's "Liberty Coalition."
Marsh said Ward intended to stay in New Hampshire after the November election and tried to find work in politics but was unsuccessful, moving out of the state, to Arkansas, in March 2013.
In addition, the pro-Democratic group Granite State Progress cited Romney's former New Hampshire primary campaign director, Jason McBride, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte's 2010 campaign manager, Brooks Kochvar, both of whom, the group said, voted in the state after working on those respective campaigns and then left.
Biden's niece, Alana, voted last year at the 145 Steinmetz Drive, Manchester, address of the Kalik family. Dan Kalik, who voted by absentee ballot in 2012, is the political affairs director at the progressive pro-Israel advocacy group and political action committee J Street, based in Washington. She then left the state and moved to New York and is now lists herself on her "LinkedIn" profile as being in Texas.
Horn ignored Alana Biden in her complaint to Foster, focusing on Fuller Clark.
"Senator Fuller Clark knew that political workers who parachute into New Hampshire for several weeks to work on campaigns did not have the 'intent to maintain' a presence in our state," Horn wrote.
"She knew that New Hampshire was not the location that 'more than any other place' these out of state campaign workers had 'established a continuous presence for domestic, social and civil purposes.' Yet she allowed them to registered to vote at her home address so that they could support her political party and improperly influence New Hampshire elections," Horn wrote.
Horn called it "outrageous that a senior Democrat lawmaker, who also serves as Vice Chairman of the state Democrat Party, would let people use her home address to potentially break New Hampshire laws and promote voter fraud. Her behavior undermines public confidence in the integrity of our elections and raises very serious questions about the campaign tactics used by New Hampshire Democrats."
Horn called on Foster to "prosecute those who have broken the law" and asked Foster to recuse himself from the investigation because he previously served in the state Senate as a Democrat with Fuller Clark. That, she said, raises "the appearance of a conflict of interest" and is evidence that he "could not impartially investigate her."
Democratic spokesman Kirstein, noting that Chesley is a Republican State Committee staffer, asked, "How long before Jennifer Horn demands an investigation into her own political director for in her words, 'aiding and abetting individuals who are undermining New Hampshire law?'
"Even for the desperate NHGOP, these false and misleading attacks are a pathetic new low given that their own employee was engaged in the exact same behavior," Kirstein said.
GOP spokesman Williams said, "Republicans believe that people of all parties should obey the law, but only Republicans have proposed legislation to address this serious issue."