ICYMI: NH Primary Source: NHDP Obtains Records ....
New emails obtained by WMUR show that Chris Sununu’s staff demanded that he be included in a vaccination PSA campaign — despite the fact that research shows that politicians are not effective messengers for vaccination. The emails are the latest evidence of Sununu using taxpayer funds to create an ad campaign that serves his political ambitions, instead of doing what is right for public health. ICYMI: NH Primary Source: NHDP obtains records showing governor’s office pushed to include Sununu in PSAs Key Excerpts
Emails provided to the state Democratic Party by the governor’s office show that officials there were adamant that Gov. Chris Sununu was included in public service announcements urging Granite Staters to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The emails also show that officials at Facebook classified the ads as political in nature because the governor appeared in them, and as a result required disclaimers stating how they were funded.
The NHDP says the emails illustrate what they have maintained for the past several months – that the governor included himself in the PSAs for his own political gain and that he is exploiting the serious health problem.
“Instead of focusing on how best to encourage Granite Staters to get vaccinated, these latest revelations make clear that Chris Sununu’s focus was instead on how he could shamelessly use this ad campaign to promote himself,” said NHDP Chair Raymond Buckley.
While the state right-to-know law exempts the governor’s office, the Democrats obtained the emails after making a request that cited a provision of the state constitution requiring state government to be “open, accessible, accountable and responsive.”
The NHDP sought the documents in May after charging Sununu was using federal COVID-19 relief dollars to advance his own political interests by featuring himself in the ads, which also included Commissioner of Health and Human Services Lori Shibinette and state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan.
The series of ads were produced by GYK Antler LLC of Manchester under contracts totaling $434,490 in federal funds. The initial $426,690 contract and an $8,000 add-on were approved unilaterally in April by the governor under broad the statutory authority granted him by state law during emergencies.
He was not required to bring the contracts to the Executive Council for approval, although two councilors said they believe he should have done so.
The state of emergency has since expired, although the effort to vaccinate as many Granite Staters as possible continues. While state-run vaccination sites have been closed, people are being urged to obtain vaccinations from health care providers and local pharmacies.
The ads are continuing to appear on Facebook. The contracts expire Aug. 31, with six-month renewal options.
In an email dated March 3, as the program was being formulated, Sununu office Deputy Communications Director Brandon Pratt told an official of GYK Antler that the governor’s office would “like to incorporate the governor,” as well as Shibinette and Chan.
On May 3, Pratt emailed a Facebook official asking why the ad was “being deemed as political content.”
The Facebook official replied: “They are being actioned under our social issues, elections and politics policy because of the inclusion of Governor Sununu in the ad." A second ad featuring the governor “will also require a disclaimer,” the Facebook official wrote.
“Any ad that includes an elected official will require a disclaimer to run,” while ads featuring “health authorities and commissioners” do not need disclaimers, he noted.
The disclaimers state, “Sponsored, paid for by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.”
The NHDP noted, as it noted in May, that a focus group organized by Republican pollster Frank Luntz earlier in the year said that voters, including supporters of former President Donald Trump, were more persuaded to get vaccinated by viewing messages that included doctors and public health experts than they were by politicians.
The party also noted that, according to CDC data reported Tuesday by the New York Times, New Hampshire ranks last in New England in the percentage of its population who have received at least one vaccine dose or have been fully vaccinated.
“Chris Sununu’s vaccination campaign was nothing more than a crass, taxpayer-funded vanity project to boost his political profile ahead of a run for higher office,” Buckley said. “Now, New Hampshire has the worst vaccination rate in New England in part because our governor used (federal) FEMA funds on political ads instead of running a real public health campaign." [...]