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The American Independent: NH Senate candidates railed against public spending while touting publicly

The American Independent: NH Senate candidates railed against public spending while touting publicly funded projects

By Josh Israel Both Chuck Morse and Kevin Smith have attacked Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) for her role in obtaining relief funds they helped spend. Two Republican Senate candidates in New Hampshire have loudly complained about "reckless" public spending under President Joe Biden. But they didn't complain about using millions in federal dollars to fund state and local projects. Both state Senate President Chuck Morse and former Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith have repeatedly attacked Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) for supporting Biden's economic agenda. [...] At an Aug. 17 candidate forum, both Republican candidates criticized the COVID-19 pandemic relief funds that Congress enacted. He also claimed that "as town manager, we sent back a lot of the COVID relief funds that we frankly had no use for back to the state of New Hampshire" and that "there was too much spending." But Morse and Smith were more than happy to use millions of dollars in state and local funding from Biden's 2021 American Rescue Plan. At a May 2021 appearance with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Smith reportedly said Londonderry would use a significant portion of its funding on hazardous chemical mitigation. According to an August 2021 NH Business Review report, he said he planned to use roughly $2.7 million from the rescue funds for a variety of important Londonderry town expenses. "The town staff will figure out our greatest needs and make a recommendation to the town council," Smith told the outlet. "It will be a very transparent and collaborative process. But we're not going to rush into anything." His campaign website also touts his work overseeing the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, which benefited from an $8.7 million American Rescue Plan grant. In the state Senate, Morse helped to distribute the state's share of the American Rescue Plan money. Minutes indicate that he voted in favor of accepting about $100 million for affordable housing and $100 million for the state's Department of Environmental Services. Morse also joined with Republican Gov. Chris Sununu in June to propose a $100 million plan to help residential electricity ratepayers — a program made possible in part thanks to the American Rescue Plan money. Asked about the relief funds, Smith spokesperson Seb Rougemont wrote in an emailed statement, "You are not a real reporter and this socialist rag is not a real news outlet." A spokesperson for Morse did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story. Contrary to what Smith and Morse have claimed, experts disagree that Biden's relief spending was the major driver of recent inflation. [...] Morse and Smith are two of many Republicans running in the Sept. 13 Senate primary ahead of the November general election. Polling suggests former Army Brigadier Gen. Don Bolduc is the current front-runner. The winner will face Hassan, who is seeking a second term. Hassan voted for the rescue plan in March 2021, noting that it would mean about $1.5 billion in state and local funding for New Hampshire. "The American Rescue Plan will help us get more vaccines in arms, get our children back in schools, put people back to work, and help families and small businesses pay their bills," she said in a press release. "I will work with the Biden administration to get this relief to the American people without delay."