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Hassan Raises Money with Koch Lobbyist

Fundraiser held just weeks after criticizing libertarian philanthropists

Maggie Hassan
Maggie Hassan / AP
• November 10, 2015 5:00 am

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New Hampshire Democrat Maggie Hassan spent Monday fundraising with a top lobbyist for the Koch brothers, despite her past criticism of the libertarian philanthropists.

Hassan attended a Washington, D.C., fundraiser cohosted by lobbyist David Castagnetti, a partner at Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas who has helped lobby for Charles and David Koch in the past.

The event came just two weeks after the Hassan campaign sent out a fundraising appeal to Democrats asking for money to fight the Koch brothers.

"When it's neck and neck like this, every single thing we do makes a difference. There is no room for us to fall short," the email said (emphasis in the original). "The Koch brothers and special-interest groups have already spent $2.5 million on attacks against us, and we know they'll spend even more to try to buy more power in Washington."

The Hassan campaign did not respond to request for comment.

The campaign has also attacked Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte for her Senate record, alleging that she works to protect the Koch’s "special interest agenda."

"The Koch Brothers praise for Kelly Ayotte’s consistent efforts to protect their special interest agenda in Washington really says it all," Hassan spokesman Aaron Jacobs said in a Nov. 6 post. "As Governor, Maggie Hassan has worked across party lines to solve problems and get results for New Hampshire’s people, small businesses, and economy—and she will always put the Granite State first in the Senate. Meanwhile, Kelly Ayotte has repeatedly voted in Washington to protect her corporate special interest backers while New Hampshire’s small businesses and middle class families pay the price."

Democrats attempted to make the Koch brothers the bogeyman of the 2014 midterm elections. Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), who has also backed fundraisers for Hassan, even went so far as to call the pair unpatriotic. Republicans nearly swept the election, capturing 54 seats. The New Hampshire Democrat has borrowed from Reid’s playbook thus far in 2016.

"Kelly Ayotte has worked overtime to solve the Koch Brothers’ problems since going to Washington, but if you don’t happen to be a well-connected Washington lobbyist or special interest then unfortunately you’re out of luck with Ayotte," state Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said in an Oct. 13 release.

Buckley did not answer an email about whether he supported Hassan’s outreach to a Koch lobbyist to finance her campaign.

Castagnetti is the former chief of staff to former Senate finance committee chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.), who resigned from the Senate to become Ambassador to China in 2014. He has lobbied for a number of special interest groups, particularly in the finance and healthcare industry.

Koch Industries paid Castagnetti’s firm about $1.3 million from 2007 to 2013, according to Senate lobbying disclosures, and Castagnetti is named personally as a lobbyist in the reports. He did not return request for comment.