Rep. Frank Guinta (R), elected to serve New Hampshire in the House in 2010, unelected in 2012, and reelected in 2014, has been under fire of late for money used in his first campaign that came from his parents' checking accounts. One of the state's newspapers is not buying his excuse.
As the New Hampshire Union Leader reported on Thursday, Guinta's argument is that he deposited $381,000 into his parents' accounts that he then had them pay back to him which he then loaned to his campaign. Following a still-sealed Federal Election Commission investigation, Guinta agreed to pay the money back and pay a fine.
The problem is that parents, like any other person besides the candidate, are limited in how much they can contribute to a federal political campaign. If you want to run for president and your mother wants to spend a million dollars on your behalf, she's going to need to go ahead and set up a separate super PAC, just as the founding fathers intended. If anyone could write you a check that you then loaned to your campaign, there would be no need for campaign committees at all. The FEC outlines what counts as personal funds, and "spontaneous generosity from one's parents" is not included. (But lottery winnings are!)
Guinta's excuse that it was his money, just in their accounts, didn't convince experts that the paper spoke with. If you deposit $1,000 into my bank account and insist to everyone that it is yours, you're putting an awful lot of trust in me. From a legal perspective, once it's in my account, it's my money. (Don't believe me? Let's try it out!) Even if Guinta is telling the truth that it was his personal funds he was getting back, it seems to have been his parents' money in between.
If he's telling he truth. The Union Leader article has a quiet link to something called "Editorial regarding Rep. Guinta." At that page, you find this:
And that, in its entirety, is the publisher's statement. Here's how it appeared in the paper:
— Jordan Meehan (@JordanMeehan) May 15, 2015
Guinta's likely out of the woods with the FEC, having agreed to pay back the money and a fine. But there are lingering questions, and, of course, another election in 2016. And it was already his turn to lose.
Correction: The last paragraph originally said that Guinta had already paid back the money. To our knowledge, he hasn't.