LACONIA — Belknap County Republicans are expressing reluctance to join in on calls for First District Congressman Frank Guinta to resign from his seat in the U.S. House.
Last week Guinta was found by the Federal Election Commission to have accepted $355,000 in illegal contributions from his parents in 2010. He has said the money he used for his first congressional campaign in was also his, but now Guinta must refund the full sum to his parents and pay a $15,000 fine.
Yesterday New Hampshire House Speaker Shawn Jasper called for Guinta's resignation, saying ''it has become quite clear in recent days that his documentation and explanation of the source of his campaign contributions, and the accounting of any taxes that may have been paid, simply don't add up.'' (See related story on page 2.)
Fellow Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte has said that that Guinta's explanation is inconsistent with the FEC's findings, and that if she were him, she would resign.
Alan Glassman, chairman of the Belknap County Republican Committee, said that while he was saddened to see what transpired, he is still hoping that Guinta will be able to provide sufficient documentation to support his version of what has happened and remain in office.
With regard to resignation he said ''It's entirely his call. I think he's been doing an excellent job as a congressman."
Rep. Frank Tilton of Laconia, chairman of the Belknap County Convention and former GOP county chairman, said that he's not as upset over the campaign contribution from Guinta's parents as he is over the way Guinta has handled the issue. ''I don't know the details. If he did take money from his parents it does concern me if he hasn't been forthright'' said Tilton.
He said that the situation is somewhat parallel to that faced by Democrat Hilary Clinton and contributions from foreign governments to the Clinton Foundation while she was serving as Secretary of State.
Rep. Bob Luther, another Laconia Republican, said that it is premature to call for Guinta's resignation.
"I think he just made a mistake and rectified it'' and criticized Ayotte for her statements. ''Kelly Ayotte should be the first to resign. She was up to her knees in the FRM scandal years ago,'' said Luther.
Rep. Brian Gallagher of Sanbornton said he was concerned ''that all of the pieces of the puzzle are not fitting together properly but it's being a little trigger happy to call for him to resign at this point.''
Gallagher said he was still hoping that Guinta would be able to provide evidence that would bring the complete clarity needed to resolve the situation.
A former mayor of Manchester (2006-2010), Guinta won a close primary in 2010 over Rich Ashooh and Sean Mahoney, and went on to defeat two-term Democrat Carol Shea-Porter in the general election.
After losing to Shea-Porter in the 2012 election he won the seat back in the 2014 campaign, during which he claimed in a televised debate that he had been completely cleared by the FEC.
The National Journal reported yesterday that former New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Fergus Cullen said "Frank is dead politically. There's no recovery from this.''
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