100 Days of Governor Sununu: Legislative failure, entitlement, and Trumpian antics

Concord, N.H. – Governor Sununu’s first 100 days in office are defined by his utter failure to work with the legislature, his ethical failings of all stripes, and his uncanny impression of Donald Trump. If this checkpoint is any indication of things to come, New Hampshire is in for a very unproductive and ethically questionable two years.

NHDP Chair Ray Buckley issued the following statement:

“Sununu’s first checkpoint is notable for how little he has accomplished, signing zero pieces of economically focused legislation while suffering massive legislative losses. It is also notable for his attitude of entitlement, expecting support rather than working for it, accepting a significant pay raise on day one while denying working families a livable wage, jetting off on official business without telling the press corps, and refusing to take positions on any number of key issues. Sununu has embraced the Trump style of governing by propagating a voter fraud lie, appointing an unqualified Education Secretary, and promoting his family business through official government channels.

Granite Staters are beginning to recognize Governor Sununu for what he is: woefully unprepared and unwilling to put in the time and effort to make up that ground. His antics have resulted in unprecedented gridlock in the state despite full control of the state government. Sununu’s next 100 days will no doubt be much like his last, unproductive, unethical, and unworthy of a second term.”

Legislative Failure

Right-to-Work
Sununu’s first priority was the Koch Brother’s national initiative of so-called Right to Work. The governor lobbied aggressively for it, personally reaching out to representatives, fielding calls from Vice President Pence, and even threatening members of his own party before the vote. His effort fell flat, as House Republicans & Democrats teamed up to defeat the special interest legislation. The fallout included party infighting and frayed the relationship between Governor Sununu and Speaker Jasper.

Concealed carry
Another national special interest issue, concealed carry was the first piece of legislation Governor Sununu signed into law. Sununu campaigned on increasing economic opportunity, yet 100 days in, hasn’t signed a single economically focused bill. Instead, he decided to further relax the already lax gun laws in the state in the name of “safety,” despite the New Hampshire Chiefs of Police calling the bill “dangerous.”

Unprecedented budget disaster
With control of every state governing body and a 53 seat majority in the House, Governor Sununu couldn’t manage to unite his party behind a budget. It was the first time in recorded history that the House failed to pass a budget. This historic failure was met with veiled criticism by Speaker Jasper, who all but confirmed that Sununu didn’t do enough to help unite House Republicans behind a budget.

Entitlement

Allies call him “lazy”
Rather than work for support, Governor Sununu thinks he is entitled to it. NHPR reported that even his allies think he “can be lazy.” He proved to be relatively absent and silent in the lead up to the House budget vote, and because of his failure to lead, he has nothing to brag about in his first 100 days.

$22,000 pay raise on Day One
One of Governor Sununu’s first acts was to take a $22,000 pay raise on day one in office. This comes after both Governor Lynch and Governor Hassan declined pay raises. Sununu and Republicans in the state legislature have twice shot down proposals to create a minimum wage in New Hampshire, which has the lowest minimum wage in New England, and by default, tied for the lowest in the country. Sununu is happy to take a $22,000 pay hike while working families struggle to get by.

100 businesses in 100 days promise
Governor Sununu promised to meet with 100 out-of-state businesses in 100 days, yet we only know of three out-of-state trips, two to Washington DC for a fundraiser and a gala, and one to Canada for a press conference he failed to announce to the New Hampshire press corps. Sununu’s entitlement has come in three forms: He has demonstrated unwillingness to share his progress on 100 businesses in 100 days, citing executive privilege. He believes he is entitled leave the state on official business without notifying the press or the public, to no consequence. He used inaugural funds to fly down to Washington DC for what he called “private, non-political event.” In fact, Sununu has overseen big economic losses, as NASCAR moved its September Cup Series playoff race out of the state. It was a race that brought in over 90,000 patrons and $200 million in revenue.

Non-positions on issues
With an air of political calculation, Governor Sununu has avoided taking positions on a great number of issues facing New Hampshire. On school vouchers and Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban, he responded by saying he was “monitoring closely.” On transgender rights, he said he had “no personal opinion.” On a sex-education bill, he said it was “under review.” On casinos, he said “I’m not saying yes and I’m not saying no.” On the Affordable Care Act, he said in the same interview “It surely hasn’t worked here in NH” and “It’s been beneficial in many ways here in NH.” On most issues, Sununu finds a way to take both sides or none at all.

Trumpian antics

Voter fraud lie
In November, Governor Sununu sowed doubt about the legitimacy of New Hampshire election results by claiming on the Howie Carr Show that Massachusetts residents were being bused into the Granite State to cast votes in our election. Echoing Sununu, Donald Trump made the same claim just after taking office. Once he was elected, Sununu tried to take back his comments about Massachusetts voter fraud, but it was too late to put the genie back in the bottle. Because of Sununu and Trump’s lie, the legislature is pushing election law reforms that would disenfranchise eligible voters in the state.

Waterville Valley Conflict
Governor Sununu filed a financial interest form just after taking office, citing personal or family financial interest in Waterville Valley. He has since admitted his brother and father are on the board of directors. This didn’t stop him from using his official Governor of New Hampshire Twitter account to promote his family business, in violation of the Executive Branch Ethics Code. This violation is reminiscent of President Trump’s blurred lines between his family business and his presidency. Sununu said he was “careful” about the Tweet, but not careful enough to use his often-used personal Twitter account. The New Hampshire Democratic Party has filed a complaint with the Ethics Committee.

Unqualified Education appointment
To much public outcry, President Trump appointed Betsy Devos to head up the Department of Education. Devos was seen as a deeply political pick, as she was a big money donor with no experience in education, and no kids in public schools. Sununu followed the Trump model. In a nakedly political move, Sununu appointed primary challenger Frank Edelblut, a businessman with no experience in education who home schools his children. Sununu did so against much public dissent and without fulfilling his legal obligation to consult the State Board of Education, which eventually issued a letter off no confidence. Edelblut and DeVos have both gone on to lobby for school vouchers. The New Hampshire version, SB 193, would give multi-millionaire Edelblut taxpayer dollars for homeschooling his kids. It would also help Edelblut’s friends on the Croydon School Board, undermine the public schools he oversees, and pay tax dollars to wealthy parents who send their children to expensive private prep schools.

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