NH GOP Congressman’s Political Career Hangs in Balance After FEC Violation

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta has apologized without admitting significant wrongdoing after the Federal Election Commission concluded he broke the law by accepting campaign donations from his parents.

In 2010, Guinta reported lending himself $355,000 and amended a disclosure form to add a previously unreported bank account, prompting questions from his Republican primary rivals and his general election opponent, Democrat Carol Shea-Porter. She defeated him in 2012, but Guinta reclaimed the seat in November.

Over the years, Guinta flatly denied the money came from his parents or that it was an illegal campaign donation. Instead, he said he and his wife saved the money working in the private sector before he was elected mayor in 2005. But in an agreement made public last week, the FEC concluded that the money came from his parents’ bank accounts and fined him $15,000. According to the commission, Guinta received 10 checks signed by his parents totaling $381,000 in 2009 and 2010 and that he used money from his parents’ accounts to make the campaign loans.

In a letter posted Sunday on his campaign website, Guinta, who is 44, said the money was his because he contributed to his parents’ account over 40 years. He apologized but maintained his only error was not properly reporting the money.

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“With over 40 years of time, and through appreciation, interest, investments and more, I was personally responsible for funds exceeding the amount I loaned the 2010 campaign. Did my parents issue checks? Yes. … Was it their money? No. Documents prove the funds were mine,” he said. “I understand and share with you the frustration of this process, and I am sorry for my error that caused it.”

Guinta also said he has shown documents to several media outlets to prove he added more money to the account than he received in donations. According to WMUR-TV, those documents show he deposited $100,000 into the account.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte said Monday she remains very troubled by Guinta’s behavior.

“I think he needs to fully explain his actions. This is a matter of public trust,” she said. “The FEC finding of violations is not consistent with how he’s framing this.”

In editorials, the Eagle-Tribune and New Hampshire Union Leader called on Guinta to resign. The Eagle-Tribune said, “It is reasonable to conclude that the people of New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District are being represented by a fraud and a cheat.” Monday’s Union Leader piece followed up on a more blunt statement Friday. In its entirety, it read: “Frank Guinta is a damned liar.”

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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