Keith Simpson

My Story

Modern campaign rhetoric is driving people from the voting booth. Many of the political issues, such as gun control and abortion, don't have that much to do with getting by week to week. Certain issues just divide, distract, and alienate us from the political process. This is a problem because our democracy depends on citizens being engaged.

As a candidate, I have positions on most issues, but my primary focus is on one issue which affects all others - big money and disclosure of it in campaigns and political action groups. You may well ask what business a state representative candidate has dealing with this issue. It's because voters are being alienated and, in some cases, choosing not to vote.

My opponents and I are not getting large contributions from wealthy donors. However, heavily funded political action groups begin recruiting their causes as soon as someone declares their candidacy. Within days of declaring my candidacy, questionnaires began to show up in my mailbox with leading questions. Who is paying for these questionaires?

Anyone can check the IRS filings for any Political Action Committee (PAC). The majority, if not all funding, for almost every PAC is classified as "other contributions". One notable exception to this is one type of PAC, unions, who get most of their funds from membership dues.

How these PACs influence voters and legislators is often subtle, but not always. Sometimes they will even write drafts of legislation for state governments. There is one particular group, ALEC, that is well known for this. This is not always bad. But usually the legislation that PACs write or influence benefits first and foremost whoever funds the PAC. This is why it is important to at least know who is donating to them, i.e. disclosure.

Disclosure is really only a start. Many would-be voters do not realize that their feelings of disempowerment and apathy comes from the relaxing of rules and regulations regarding the amount of money that can be spent in the political arena.

To show the many different ways that state legislation may be affected by big money is difficult. However, one of the best places to turn back this trend is in state legislatures. It has been tried with different degrees of success in other states.

I recognize that this makes me a somewhat unconventional candidate. I have often done things unconventionally in life. Instead of going to college after a school that specifically prepares you for that, I left home and went to work with a renovation construction company in Boston. Shortly thereafter I enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War. Soon after that, at age 23, I started college at the University of Massachusetts.

The time I spent in college was transformative. I studied english, philosophy, economics, and political science. Toss in entomology, music appreciation and computer science (which turned out to be significant later). As you may gather, instead of following a prescribed curriculum I chose my own course.

I was very impressed by my professors and how they helped me think more critically. I will always remain a huge supporter of public education at all levels because of this experience. My philosophy courses helped me to process hundreds of years of thought into practical modern living. Actually thousands of years - don't forget Socrates and Plato! This formed the basis of my political thinking.

I will share with you some of the basics of my thinking below. But to bring my story up to date, I fell in love with New Hampshire before joining the Army and later left college to live in Tamworth and paint houses. A bug had bitten me in college though, and I built my first computer in 1979. When the PC idea came on strong in the eighties I was in the right place.

While still living in Tamworth and working in Conway, a software job brought me to Wolfeboro. I met my future wife that first day at Bowers and Merena when they were upstairs in the Avery building downtown. The rest is fairly conventional perhaps - build a home, raise a family. The work that brought me to Wolfeboro has since taken me to faraway places: India, Australia, and all over this great country.

The story does not quite end there though. I lost my job over two years ago, took a part time job as a night auditor at the Wolfeboro Inn, collected unemployment until it ran out, and was a housepainter. I no longer work at the Inn, but now am the IT Assistant for the Town of Wolfeboro. I am very fortunate and have a great deal to be thankful for. I have a supportive family, I have saved quite a bit and I am still healthy enough to work and play. But what if even one of these things were not true? I think a lot about people in our town who are struggling.

One thing that has become clear to me over the years is how some people have the skills, temperament and good fortune to do extremely well in our economic system. Some do not. And for many it is more about surviving than succeeding. If you or a family member lose your health or a job, you can find yourself in survival mode very quickly. I believe that this country generates enough wealth so that this does not have to happen, and so that everyone has an equal opportunity to realize their dreams.

Dreams do not need to be of unimaginable wealth. When an individual can buy a million dollars of media time easier than you can pay your electric bill, there is great danger to our political system. Our economic system currently allows for this kind of inequity. Some of these unimaginably wealthy people may have some wisdom from which we may benefit, but they should not be dictating tax policy. And if they are contributing large amounts of money to PACS, SuperPACS or think tanks, we at least should be aware of it.

So that is my story. When in office, instead of just taking positions on what comes before me, I will seek to learn and then disclose exactly who is paying to advocate for certain legislation. Legislation needs to be judged on its own merits. My role, especially when paid advocacy makes influence so lopsided, is to advocate for all the people. I will look for allies in the legislature to help locate and evaluate legislation that has been used elsewhere to deal with campaign finance and disclosure. I believe there is no better calling than this.