For Immediate Release
September 2, 2022
Concord, NH – Because the State Primary Election is less than two weeks away, on September 13, 2022, Attorney General John M. Formella is releasing the following information to the public regarding anonymous political mailers that have been distributed in New Hampshire:
An unknown entity has paid for at least four political advertising mailers regarding the Congressional District 2 race. These mailers have been sent to New Hampshire residents throughout Congressional District 2. These mailers do not contain information identifying the person or entity responsible for the advertising ‐ known as "paid-for" disclaimers ‐ that are required by New Hampshire and federal law.
The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office has confirmed that the mailers were produced by Massachusetts printing company Reynolds DeWalt, which is represented by the Elias Law Group. Reynolds DeWalt and Elias have both refused to disclose to the Attorney General's Office the name of the person or entity responsible for the mailers. However, following discussions with this Office, Elias has confirmed that the four mailers without the "paid-for" information were the only ones sent and any additional mailers distributed in New Hampshire by Reynolds DeWalt will contain paid-for disclaimers.
Congressional District 2 candidates George Hansel and Bob Burns are the subjects of the four mailers. In discussions with the Attorney General's Office, the campaigns of Mr. Hansel, Mr. Burns, and Representative Annie McLane Kuster have all stated that they had no prior knowledge of or coordination with the entity responsible for the four anonymous mailers.
The Attorney General's Office will continue its investigation of the four mailers for violations of New Hampshire election law.
The Attorney General's Office thanks the public for their diligent review of the political mailers they have received during this primary election cycle and for the numerous contacts providing it with copies of the four different mailers. Attorney General Formella is providing the following information in order to assist the public in understanding the election laws related to political mailers.
New Hampshire RSA 664:14 requires that political advertising must be signed with the name and address of a person responsible for the advertising. An Internet address for a website is acceptable as long as the website immediately and prominently displays all of the disclaimer information required. Federal law, 52 U.S.C. § 30120, similarly requires political advertising for federal candidates to clearly state who paid for the communication. Paid-for disclaimers are required for advertising that is considered "express advocacy," which means communications that expressly advocate for or against a candidate or ballot measure at an election. Courts have also held that, even if the advertising does not say "vote for" or "vote against" a certain candidate, if the only reasonable interpretation of the communication is as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate, then it is express advocacy. As a result, in general, when a communication mentions elections, candidates, or political parties, it must include a paid-for disclaimer. The United States Department of Justice's Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses, 8th Edition, calls failure to include § 30120 paid-for disclaimers a "dirty trick" along with fraudulent misrepresentation and fraudulent fundraising.
The Attorney General's Office welcomes information from the public regarding political advertising they find concerning due to lack of paid-for disclaimers. Please provide copies of the mailer and the dates when received to our email address: email@example.com.
New Hampshire Department of Justice
33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301