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.
This campaign contribution issue has dogged Guinta for years. In 2009 and 2010, over the course of five contributions, Guinta loaned his campaign $355,000. It was unclear at the time how Guinta had amassed that money. His story was simply that fastidious savings and some luck in the stock market had paid off. He amended a financial disclosure to note that he had forgotten to disclose an account worth between $250,000 and $500,000. But Guinta said the money was his and, as recently as October, insisted that the FEC had closed the issue.
But the FEC had not closed the issue.
Guinta recently accepted the terms of an FEC Conciliation Agreement, which finds that his parents gave him the money and orders Guinta’s campaign to repay the excessive contributions. The settlement, which was signed by the congressman’s attorney, states that Guinta’s campaign “did not properly disclose that the funds Guinta loaned to his committee were drawn from accounts held in Guinta’s parents’ names.”
But that statement, despite agreeing to the FEC settlement, is different from what Guinta contends. He says the money he loaned to his campaign was his.
That doesn’t seem to have satisfied Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, however. Facing a potentially competitive Senate race in 2016, the fellow Republican has called on Guinta to resign.
But Guinta does not seem intent on going anywhere. He’s politely fired back at Ayotte — Guinta said he understands Ayotte’s “disappointment” — and, over the weekend, Guinta issued “A Note and Apology.”
I said then, as I maintain today, that I made an error on the first financial disclosure report and the funds I loaned the campaign were mine. I recognize the difficulty of this situation, and to all those expressing their concerns and frustration, I apologize.
But it’s unclear what Guinta is apologizing for. 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.
(It also seems to be at odds with math: If Guinta had the $355,000 he loaned his campaign, an additional $381,000 would push the value of that account to more than $500,000, which was the maximum value of the asset, according to Guinta’s amended disclosure. Additionally, the dates of the loans to his campaign and the checks from his parents seem to closely align. For instance, on June 27, 2010, Guinta loans his campaign $125,000, and between two checks dated June 17, 2010, and June 30, 2010, Guinta’s parents gave their son $125,000.)
CQ Roll Call on Monday walked with Guinta from his Cannon office, rode an elevator down to the House office building basement, went through a metal detector, walked the Cannon Tunnel and rode another elevator — all alongside the congressman — as he made his way to House votes. Through nearly six combative minutes, the New Hampshire Republican refused to substantively answer a single question.
Asked repeatedly about his apology to voters on Monday night, Guinta referred us to his statements on the issue.
“I’ve sent a statement out, and I can get you that statement, if you’d like,” he said.
But, again, if the money was his, as Guinta seemingly continues to insist, what is he apologizing for?
“My statement will speak for itself,” Guinta said, offering a variation of that line 15 times.
Repeatedly pressed that the statement doesn’t speak for itself — once again, it’s unclear what Guinta is apologizing for — Guinta continued to point to his earlier comment.
The closest thing CQ Roll Call got to an answer was when we asked if it was a lie that the money loaned to his campaign was his.
“Well if you look at the statement, that’s not accurate,” he said, meaning he stands by his declaration that, contrary to the FEC’s finding, the money he loaned his campaign was his.
So, again, what exactly is Guinta apologizing for?
He referred us to his statement.
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