Sununu considers whether CARES Act spending reports should be public

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CONCORD, NH – Gov. Chris Sununu promised at his Thursday press conference to look into whether reports showing how agencies and private organizations spent federal CARES Act funds he awarded them are public documents.

InDepthNH.org asked for the reports two weeks ago and Sununu responded then by saying the state website is very transparent, although the reports were not published there, and Sununu’s spokesman hasn’t responded to questions about them since.

On Thursday, Sununu again stressed the transparency of the state’s Governor’s Office For Economic Relief and Recovery website when it comes to the federal $1.25 billion spending, but wasn’t sure if what he called “audit” documents detailing how agencies and private organizations spent the funds are public information.

Sununu told InDepthNH.org at the press conference that there is a “lot of transparency,” but the reports contain confidential business information that may not be considered public, adding he would look into it.

Sununu had final control on how the federal money was awarded with input from various committees whose members he appointed. He bypassed the Legislative Fiscal Committee and the Executive Council in awarding the funds.

WMUR’s John DiStaso reported Wednesday that four Democratic leaders asked that the reports be made public because they had also been denied access to them.

Senate Democratic Leader Donna Soucy, Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, both of Manchester, House Democratic Leader Renny Cushing of Hampton and former fiscal committee chair Rep. Mary Jane Wallner of Concord sent a letter to GOFERR Committee Chairman Taylor Caswell seeking the reports, asking they immediately be released.

“These funds, which were part of the more than $9 billion Congress directed to New Hampshire through the CARES Act, were an essential lifeline for many agencies and organizations – but unfortunately, there is no way for the public to see how that money was spent,” the letter states.