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August 26. 2014 7:29PM

NH gubernatorial candidate Hemingway's business acumen questioned by lawyer

CONCORD — Republican gubernatorial candidate Andrew Hemingway touts his experience as a successful entrepreneur as he campaigns around the state.

But a Grantham attorney says documents filed with the Secretary of State’s corporation division belie that claim.

“I think it is very important that we thoroughly vet candidates on our own, rather than simply take their word on things, and that’s what I’ve been doing,” said Sheridan Brown, a one-time aide to former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu. “I’m following Ronald Reagan’s advice to ‘trust, but verify.’”

Brown said he has not endorsed anyone in the Republican gubernatorial primary but is concerned about the party’s brand.

“Obviously I’m a Republican and I’ve been concerned where the party brand is headed for some time now,” Brown said Tuesday. “I want to make sure good, qualified people carry that flag.”

Brown said the three start-up companies Hemingway cites as examples of his business acumen have failed to file annual reports with the Secretary of State’s corporation division and are “not in good standing.”

Businesses are required to file annual reports to retain the legal standing as a corporation, but when companies fail to file reports the division finds them “not in good standing,” and repeated failures result in administratively dissolving the company.

Hemingway’s Online Sports Coaching, LLC, was created on April 2, 2007, and filed a 2008 annual report, but no other reports and was dissolved by the division in 2010, according to information from the Secretary of State’s website.

Hemingway re-established the business June 11, 2012 Brown said, but has not filed an annual report and is not in good standing.

Brown also cited Grassloot, LLC, which Hemingway touts as a new way to raise money for campaigns. The company was created June 3, 2013, but has not filed an annual report.

Hemingway also created Digital Acumen, LLC, in August 2011 and has said it “continues to be a success,” but no annual reports have been filed since 2012.

Brown said while the two other companies use Hemingway’s home address in Bristol as their locations, Digital Acumen is based at “33 Zachary Road; Manchester, the location of GTI Spindle Technology.

Brown said GTI appears to be owned by Tea Party activists Thomas and Tracy Hoenig.

Brown notes the name of the company is similar to a two-decades-old information technology firm in New York named Digital Acumen, which holds the trademark rights.

“I don’t know how Hemingway could have been unaware that the name ‘Digital Acumen’ was already in use. It is unlikely that he registered the internet domain name ‘digital-acumen.com,’ opting for a hyphenated name as his first choice,” Brown said. “More plausible is that he registered the hyphenated name after finding ‘digitalacumen.com’ — all one word —already in use by the New York company.”

Brown said he is concerned that ideological candidates can fire people up but are often not vetted. Today’s media tools allow a candidate to put out the message he or she wants, he said, without anyone gauging its accuracy.Hemingway’s campaign took issue with Brown’s characterization of his businesses.

“This is called desperation. The ranting claims from one individual via Twitter and contact with the media, are just that,” said Hemingway campaign manager Alicia Preston. “As for the direct business accusations, the standings on the state website only have to do with annual reports being filed. Online Sports Coaching, LLC was sold in 2009, so (it) has nothing to file. Digital Acumen sold its assets and dissolved, so (it) also doesn’t have to file because it doesn’t exist. Grassloot is in good standing.”

Preston then said Hemingway’s Republican opponent needs the same kind of scrutiny.

“While these false and ridiculous claims are being made against Andrew, let’s see as much attention given to the business standing of his opponent who left his last job, at SAIC, 5,000 jobs smaller, a 32 percent stock drop and still under probation after a $600 million fraud scandal,” Preston said, referring to Walt Havenstein. “And, let’s please not forget illegal tax credits taken in Maryland.”

On Tuesday, Democrats filed a complaint about Havenstein’s campaign finances with the Attorney General.

Last week, Brown filed a complaint about Hemingway’s campaign finance report, saying it lacked crucial information.

Hemingway’s campaign filed an updated report with the missing information saying it was due to a software glitch.

grayno@unionleader.com


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