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“I’ve been trying since Wednesday to get Maggie Hassan’s office to say whether or not she’s seen the Planned Parenthood videos,” I said.
Carly Fiorina snorted. “Well, of course she hasn’t seen them,” she said. We were standing on Coe Hill in Center Harbor, NH, overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee. About 60 people had gathered on a Saturday evening to meet the Republican presidential candidate.
“Have you seen them?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Fiorina.
Have you seen the videos? It’s a simple yes or no question, and Fiorina gave me a simple answer without hesitation. But then, as Fiorina often says of herself, she’s not a member of the “professional political class.”
New Hampshire governor Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, is reportedly contemplating a U.S. Senate run challenging Republican Kelly Ayotte next year. Hassan’s office has repeatedly refused to say whether she has seen the undercover videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress. The videos show top-level Planned Parenthood doctors and administrators haggling of the price of baby parts. The most recent videos reveal that Planned Parenthood delivers intact baby cadavers to StemExpress, a research company. In one video, a former StemExpress employee describes witnessing a baby born alive, then vivisected.
Over a three-day period last week, Hassan’s office first ignored multiple emails and phone calls, then finally responded with a vague, boilerplate form letter that did not address the specific question I had asked.
Hassan has publicly defended Planned Parenthood and refused to call for a state investigation of the nation’s largest abortion provider, even while the New Hampshire executive council has rescinded the more than half a million dollars in state funding that had been going to the organization. District 1 council member Joe Kenney was present at Fiorina’s meet-and-greet Saturday evening and confirmed to me that the money is being held and will not be going to Planned Parenthood. The council is planning on redirecting the funds to health-care facilities that do not perform abortions, he says.
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Action Fund PAC endorsed both Hassan’s 2012 election and 2014 re-election campaigns. The pro-abortion Emily’s List also endorsed Hassan and has directly contributed $59,000 to her campaigns, including $50,000 in 2014 alone, according to followthemoney.org. She also has a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America.
An August 19 email to William Hinkle, Governor Hassan’s communications director, was returned with an out-of-office reply that he was on vacation but that contacting Amber Melo would produce an immediate response. Forwarding the original email to Ms. Melo did not produce any reply after a few hours. A young man named Kyle answered the phone at the number provided by Mr. Hinkle, but he said he couldn’t answer any questions and that Ms. Melo would respond by email. She did not.
Ms. Melo did not reply to an additional email on August 20. After about five hours with no email from Ms. Melo, I called back and Kyle again answered the phone. Ms. Melo was in a meeting and couldn’t come to the phone, he explained. But if I emailed her, she would get back to me. She did not.
On August 21, I emailed Ms. Melo once more, this time stressing that I am a constituent and expected an answer. About two hours later I received this email from email@example.com:
Thank you for contacting the Office of Governor Margaret Wood Hassan with your concerns regarding Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is a non-profit provider of reproductive health and maternal and child health services. It indiscriminately serves men, women, and families across the country, providing vital healthcare services such as cancer screening, STD screening and counseling. Its functions are essential to the economic security and wellbeing of many families.
We are currently unaware of any evidence of illegal activity in New Hampshire. Consistent with state and federal law, state funding of abortion is banned in New Hampshire except in cases of life endangerment, rape, and incest. If you have any evidence of illegal activity, please alert the Attorney General’s office.
Correspondence to the office is taken seriously and your concerns have been reviewed and noted. Governor Hassan appreciates that you took the time to contact us about this issue. Thank you again for contacting the Governor’s office and please do not hesitate to contact our office with your ideas or if we can be of further assistance.
Benjamin G. Belanger
Assistant Director of Citizen Services
This of course does not in any way answer the question as to whether Gov. Hassan has watched the videos put out by the Center for Medical Progress.
“I’ve watched every one,” said Carly Fiorina, back in Center Harbor. “And you have to really steel yourself for some of those.”
I contacted Hassan’s office again this morning and have still not received an answer.
Reached by email this afternoon, Senator Ayotte’s communications director, Liz Johnson, promptly replied that Ayotte has seen some of the video content and also read about it.