June 27, 2018; Seacoast Online
The nonprofit conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) has been challenged in New Hampshire by a group of Republican lawmakers who say that the organization is in violation of rules for nonprofits operating in the state.
Seven Republican state representatives—Phil Bean, Jason Janvrin, Sean Morrison, Michael McCarthy, Mark Proulx, Matthew Scruton, and Marty Bove—signed and sent a letter asking New Hampshire’s attorney general and secretary of state to investigate AFP after the nonprofit sent mailers attacking Bean, Janvrin, and Morrison over their votes against a Right-to-Work bill in the state legislature. The bill would have prohibited employers from requiring non-union workers to pay union fees. Similar bills have been supported by the Koch-funded AFP in other states.
Under New Hampshire law, 501c4 organizations like AFP may advocate for issues like Right-to-Work, but not for specific candidates. Because the mailers called out specific representatives prior to the New Hampshire primary, the representatives say AFP is endorsing those reps’ opponents.
“We believe that these paid advertisements are politically targeted attacks against individuals in office and/or candidates and violate the 501c4 requirements for a social welfare organization doing business in NH,” the letter reads.
The AFP state director for New Hampshire told a New Hampshire news source that the group has focused on issues, not the election of the candidates mentioned, by listing the candidates’ votes on the mailers.
A recent card mailed to voters in Bean’s district stated, “Representative Philip Bean voted to side with union bosses instead of with [New Hampshire] Governor Sununu…Bean voted against freedom to join a union or not, [against] freedom to refuse payment to a union, [against] saving more of our hard-earned money.”
The last line of the card urged voters to call Bean and tell him to support the Right-to-Work Bill, but does not directly mention the upcoming election.
The state’s attorney general’s office has agreed to open an investigation into AFP’s activities. The state has received two previous complaints—one in 2012 and one in 2014—regarding Americans for Prosperity not being registered as a political action committee.—Lauren Karch