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Was Nader's New Hampshire petition coordination or contribution to Bush?

The Portsmouth Herald reports: An expert in election law cited unanswered questions in trying to determine whether laws were broken last weekend when Republican groups worked to get independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the [New Hampshire] state ballot - presumably to help the Bush/Cheney campaign.

State Democrats filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday, claiming that an effort by a New Hampshire consulting firm and a Missouri-based nonprofit group to gather signatures for Nader from supporters of President Bush constituted a prohibited contribution to Nader. Election lawyer Jan Baran said FEC investigators need to determine whether the groups - Norway Hill, a consulting firm in Hancock founded by Republican David Carney and Choices for America - coordinated the drive with either the Nader or Bush camps. ...

Last week, Kittery, Maine, resident Emily Sawka protested being assigned by a Portsmouth temp agency hired by Norway Hill to collect voters’ signatures for Nader outside a Stratham rally where Bush was speaking. The temp workers allegedly used scripts recommending that they tell potential signers that "without Nader, Bush would not be president."

While the complaint alleges that the drive wrongfully helps the Nader campaign, Baran said the script raises the question of whether the drive was a contribution to Bush.

"It presents an interesting issue when they are saying that this will help the Bush campaign," said Baran. "Bush’s name is mentioned." -- Bush connection to Nader signatures? (Portsmouth Herald)

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It’s still unclear who financed the drive. Many of the workers were hired through Adecco temp agency in Portsmouth at $12 per hour and told they would receive an extra $100 for every 100 signatures they solicited.

But Carney has said that he and Choices for America never worked out the financials. While he said he hopes Norway Hill gets paid, Carney expects the firm will have to pay some of the expenses itself.

The FEC complaint alleges that, if Norway Hill is not paid, then "it is clear that they have expended corporate resources for the direct benefit of the Nader campaign."

If Choices for America does foot the bill, the complaint says, then the nonprofit "has made excessive and/or impermissible contributions." Both actions would be in violation of U.S. campaign laws, the Democrats allege. -- Dems urge FEC probe of Nader drive ((Portsmouth Herald)