It's been a rough few days for Rep. Frank Guinta, capped Monday with Sen. Kelly Ayotte calling on her fellow New Hampshire Republican to step down amid a campaign finance scandal. But the embattled congressman is not backing down.
After five years of denying allegations of wrongdoing related to his 2010 campaign, Guinta was found by the Federal Election Commission to have violated campaign finance laws by accepting $355,000 in illegal contributions from his parents. The two-term congressman, who was defeated in 2012 but narrowly beat Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in 2014, has said the money he used for his first campaign was also his, though disclosure forms suggested he didn't have the money. Guinta maintained he made a reporting error and did nothing illegal. Now, he must refund the six-figure sum to his parents, and pay a $15,000 fine.
The New Hampshire Union Leader published a scathing May 14 editorial calling Guinta a "damned liar." Late last week, Ayotte told a local TV station that Guinta owed voters a full accounting.
On Monday, she sharpened her tone. "Congressman Guinta must make his own decision about whether to resign, but if I were in his position, that's what I would do," Ayotte said in a statement provided to CQ Roll Call.
Guinta responded, without directly addressing resignation, in a statement saying he was doing his best to set the record straight and planned to keep meeting with concerned Granite State constituents.
"I understand Senator Ayotte's disappointment with this issue, I share in that frustration. I have been proactive in showing the documentation proving the assets in question were mine," Guinta stated in an email to CQ Roll Call. "I have apologized for the error on my part, made myself available for press inquiries and attended several events over the weekend."
If Guinta does step down, he would be the third House Republican to resign since the start of 2015, after New York’s Michael G. Grimm and Illinois’ Aaron Schock.
On Sunday, the congressman issued an apology letter to supporters, defending his mistake and saying he was sorry for any concern or frustration. Guinta said he made an error on his first financial disclosure report, and the funds he loaned to the campaign were his own.
"Since the FEC complaint I have worked diligently to resolve this issue. Even when out of public office, I made proactive efforts to resolve the matter. It was only after I was elected in 2014 that the FEC contacted me to finally resolve the issue," Guinta stated.
Guinta said he readily shared documents with the FEC, such as bank statements and property sales receipts, over a 40-year period that prove his personal contribution to the family account in question.
"Did my parents issue checks? Yes. Due to my status as a minor in the early years, my parents' names were at the top of the account. Was it their money? No. Documents prove the funds were mine," he stated. Guinta said in the note that he would continue to work to "set the record straight."
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report. The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.