A mass campaign mailer attacking anti-establishment Republican candidates running in New Hampshire's upcoming primaries was sent out by a political action committee formed to support party Gov. Chris Sununu as its purpose.
"This is an outrageous and unprecedented attempt to purge as many constitutional conservative Republicans from the state house delegation as possible," State Rep. Paul Terry, one of the Republican candidates targeted by the mailers, told The Epoch Times, "He wants us replaced with Rhinos [sic] or Democrats."
Terry is running for re-election to the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
At least six Republicans are known to have been targeted by the mailers. All of them are running in contested Republican primaries and are called out in the mailers for supporting such Republican initiatives as impeaching Sununu and seceding from the U.S.
Alex Stanford, chairman and treasurer of Granite PAC, which sent out the mailers, told The Epoch Times that Sununu had nothing to do with the mailers, that neither the governor nor his campaign knew about them, and that his committee chose the targeted candidates on their own.
While Stanford would not disclose his ties to Sununu, The Epoch Times learned he was a former intern for Sununu's father, John Sununu, a former NH governor who went on to serve as chief of staff for George Bush Sr.
Stanford also counts Paul Collins, Sununu's campaign advisor, among his followers and his social media pages, which are riddled with personal posts promoting Sununu.
"We chose these candidates because they don't represent Republican values and have taken actions that are not in the best interest of New Hampshire," said Stanford, who refused to elaborate on his political credentials, "this has nothing to do with the governor's elections."
Sununu's campaign did not respond to inquiries about the mailers.
On Stanford's political committee registration filed with the office of New Hampshire Secretary of State on May 12, 2021, the stated purpose of the PAC is "To Support Governor Chris Sununu."
The document also lists Sununu on its statement of independent expenditures as the candidate it would be spending its money on. According to its most recent financial filings with the SOS, the PAC spent $27,000 on the mailings.
While denying that Sununu's campaign has anything to do with the mailers, Stanford said that his PAC did not send out mailers on any other race, local or federal.
"It is so obvious that this is Sununu that it is insulting to say otherwise," State Rep. Norman Silber, another Republican state House representative targeted by Stanford's mailers told The Epoch Times.
The mailer targeting Silber depicts the New Hampshire state flag being shredded with the warning to voters: "Don't Let New Hampshire Become Undone by Norm Silber's Divisive Leadership."
Silber, who led party challenges against Sununu for various actions, including his excessive use of his executive powers during COVID, filed a complaint with the NH Attorney General's office about the mailers. Silber's specific complaint was about the amounts of contributions made to Granite PAC.
According to the PAC'S financial statements filed with the New Hampshire Secretary of State's office, three of its donors made contributions in excess of $50,000. Silver says the donations violate a state law that limits donations to political action committees at $10,000.
The donors include an electrical contractor whose owners appear in pictures posted on social media presenting Sununu with a $25,000 check for a food bank in 2020.
Another $50,000 contribution came from the owner of dozens of McDonald’s restaurants in the state. The owner appears in pictures on social media presenting Sununu with a $50,000 check for the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police.
State Rep. Josh Yokela, another Republican targeted by the mailers, told The Epoch Times that he feels Sununu should be investigated for violating the ethical rules of the party.
"What Sununu is doing is hurting his own party with the potential of putting Democrats in office over Republicans," said Yokela, "this whole mailer thing he has done is so short-sighted and is just obviously personal."
Mike Sylvia, another Republican House member targeted by the mailers, was involved in a recent controversy that Sununu inserted himself into even though it had nothing to do with state affairs.
Sylvia and Silber are members of an all-Republican delegation that oversees the Gunstock Mountain Resort, owned by Belknap County, which Sylvia and Silber represent.
The delegation, which Sylvia chairs, makes appointments to the Gunstock Area Commission, which oversees the resort's finances.
The commission at the time was led by Tom Day, a former general manager of the Waterville Valley Resort, which Sununus own.
When the delegation and Day got into a very public tangle over allegations by the delegation against the commission, Sununu, who, again, has nothing to do with the Gunstock ski resort, released a letter, siding with Day and calling for Silber and Sylvia to be "removed from their positions" for what he called making "bad decisions." Sununu also offered Day, who resigned over the dispute, a job with the state Parks department.
Shortly later, a $500 check written out to Sununu's campaign by the commission surfaced. It was signed by Day. Sylvia released the check to the public with a statement that it was discovered in an audit.
One of the Republican candidates running against Silber was a member of the Gunstock commission that signed off on the donation to Sununu's campaign in 2020.