The New Hampshire Democratic Party is calling on Republican gubernatorial candidates Ovide Lamontagne and Kevin Smith and Congressmen Frank Guinta and Charles Bass to refuse to attend because right-wing activist James O'Keefe will be in attendance.
In a conference call Thursday, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley and former party Chairman Kathy Sullivan said the GOP candidates should refuse to stand with O'Keefe.
"I'm really disappointed that the Republican Party would have someone like Mr. O'Keefe come into New Hampshire on their behalf," Sullivan said. "I find it's really sad and disappointing these elected officials are willing to overlook the actions Mr. O'Keefe and his associates are undertaking... This is not a joke. These are serious matters."
Buckley questioned why Republicans are offering "a confessed lawbreaker," as a special guest. "Is that the kind of message Republicans want to send?" he asked.
O'Keefe, who heads Project Veritas, at various polling sites during the Jan. 10 New Hampshire Primary, outraging election officials and leading the attorney general's office to launch an investigation. The footage was taken at several New Hampshire polling sites, including in Nashua and Bedford, during which phony voters went undercover to ask for ballots for recently deceased people in those wards. State wiretapping and eavesdropping statutes specify that it is illegal to record an election official without permission.
O'Keefe also pleaded guilty in 2010 to misdemeanor charges of entering federal property under false pretenses after he tried to videotape two conservative activists posing as telephone repairmen in U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's New Orleans office.
Sunday afternoon's gala at Abenaqui Country Club in Rye is being hosted by the Rye Republican Town Committee to kick off the 2012 election season. Those invited, according to the Rye GOP committee's website, include Lamontagne, Smith, Guinta, Bass, Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, state Sen. Nancy Stiles, and state Reps. Will Smith and Brian Murphy. U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte was mentioned on the conference call by Buckley and Sullivan, but is not listed as one of the anticipated attendees.
A schedule sent out by Rye GOP Chairman Diane Bitter says that O'Keefe is scheduled to speak at 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Both Buckley and Sullivan called on the GOP candidates to urge the Rye Republicans to cancel O'Keefe's appearance.
"If they don't, they should explain to the people of New Hampshire that it's OK to break the law," Buckley said.
"They should not be celebrating, standing on the same platform with someone like O'Keefe," added Sullivan.
Kevin Smith issued the following statement Thursday in response to the Democratic Party's comments:
"The Rye Republican Town Committee event is a great kick-off to the campaign season, and I look forward to speaking to the voters there. I'm not concerned about what Ray Buckley and the NHDP think about any particular attendee."
The Lamontagne campaign declined to address the Democratic Party's comments. Emails to the Guinta and Bass campaigns were not returned. Attempts to contact Bitter and other members of the Rye GOP committee were also unsuccessful.