|Ayotte in February 2011|
United States Senator
from New Hampshire
January 3, 2011
Serving with Jeanne Shaheen
|Preceded by||Judd Gregg|
|New Hampshire Attorney General|
June 15, 2004 – July 17, 2009
John H. Lynch
|Preceded by||Peter Heed|
|Succeeded by||Michael Delaney|
Kelly Ann Ayotte
June 27, 1968
Nashua, New Hampshire
|Residence||Nashua, New Hampshire, U.S.|
Pennsylvania State University (B.A.)
Villanova University School of Law (J.D.)
Kelly Ann Ayotte ( ; born June 27, 1968) is an American politician and the junior United States senator from New Hampshire, serving since 2011. A member of the Republican Party, as of 2013 she is the only Republican in New Hampshire's four-member congressional delegation. She is also the youngest of the 20 female Senators, and the seventh-youngest overall.
Born in Nashua, New Hampshire, Ayotte is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University and Villanova University School of Law. She worked as a law clerk for the New Hampshire Supreme Court before entering private practice. She also worked as a prosecutor for the New Hampshire Department of Justice, and briefly served as the legal counsel to New Hampshire governor Craig Benson, before returning to the Department of Justice to serve as deputy attorney general of New Hampshire. In June 2004, Governor Benson appointed Ayotte as attorney general of New Hampshire, after the resignation of Peter Heed. She became New Hampshire's first woman attorney general, serving from 2004 to 2009, after she was twice reappointed by Democratic governor John Lynch. In July 2009, Ayotte resigned as attorney general to pursue a bid for the U.S. Senate, after three term incumbent Judd Gregg announced his retirement from the Senate.
In September 2010, Ayotte won a close victory over lawyer Ovide M. Lamontagne in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. She then defeated Democratic congressman Paul Hodes, with 60% of the vote in the general election, and was later sworn into the U.S. Senate as a member of the 112th Congress, on January 3, 2011. Ayotte was mentioned as a possible running mate for Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. An August 2013 cover story by Newsmax magazine named Ayotte No. 1 among the 25 most influential women in the GOP, calling her “an emerging force in Congress.”
- 1 Early life, education, and career
- 2 U.S. Senate
- 3 Political positions
- 4 References
- 5 Notes
- 6 Further reading
- 7 External links
Early life, education, and career
Ayotte was born in Nashua, New Hampshire, on June 27, 1968, the daughter of Kathleen M. (née Sullivan) and Marc Frederick Ayotte. She attended Nashua High School. She received a B.A. from Pennsylvania State University in political science. While a student at Penn State, Ayotte was initiated into the Delta Gamma women's fraternity. In 1993, Ayotte graduated from Villanova University School of Law, where she had served as editor of the Environmental Law Journal.
Ayotte clerked for Sherman D. Horton, associate justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, for one year. From 1994 to 1998, she was an associate at the Manchester law firm of McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton.
In 1998, she joined the office of the New Hampshire Attorney General as a prosecutor. In 2003, Ayotte became legal counsel to Governor Craig Benson. Three months later, she returned to the attorney general's office as deputy attorney general. In June 2004, Ayotte was appointed Attorney General of the State of New Hampshire by Governor Benson following Peter Heed's resignation.
New Hampshire Attorney General
Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England
In 2003, the Federal District Court for the District of New Hampshire found the New Hampshire law requiring parental notification of a minor's abortion, the Parental Notification Prior to Abortion Act, unconstitutional and enjoined its enforcement. In 2004, New Hampshire attorney general Peter Heed appealed this ruling to the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which affirmed the District Court's ruling. In 2004, Ayotte appealed the Appeals Court's ruling to the Supreme Court, over the objection of incoming Democratic governor John Lynch. Ayotte personally argued the case before the Supreme Court. Lynch, upon assuming office as governor, submitted an amicus curiae brief in opposition to the Parental Notification Prior to Abortion Act.
In the case, the Supreme Court vacated the ruling by the District Court and remanded the case back to the District Court. In 2007, the New Hampshire Parental Notification Prior to Abortion Act was repealed by the New Hampshire legislature, rendering a rehearing by the District Court moot.
In 2008, a Federal District Court judge ordered the New Hampshire Department of Justice to pay Planned Parenthood's attorney fees and court costs, finding that Planned Parenthood's position had been upheld at every level of judicial review. In April 2009, Ayotte, as attorney general, authorized a payment of $300,000 to Planned Parenthood.
Prosecution of murder cases
As assistant attorney general, Ayotte prosecuted two defendants for the "Dartmouth Murders" in Etna, New Hampshire. After she became attorney general, she prosecuted the high profile capital murder of a Manchester police officer, Michael Briggs, in 2006. It resulted in a conviction and death penalty sentence. Members of the slain police officer's family have appeared in television ads for her Senate campaign praising her leadership.
Two former prosecutors turned personal-injury attorneys alleged that Ayotte's conduct in the case violated American Bar Association standards of conduct which state that "in making the decision to prosecute, the prosecutor should give no weight to the personal or political advantages or disadvantages which might be involved" and "should not permit his or her professional judgment or obligations to be affected by his or her own political, financial, business, property or personal interests."
Financial Resources Mortgage fraud
Ayotte has been criticized for her former office's alleged failure to investigate charges against mortgage investment firm Financial Resources Mortgage (FRM) which has been accused of orchestrating a $80–100 million Ponzi scheme. Scott Farah, the former president of Financial Resources Mortgage, was accused of swindling investors out of millions of dollars, using investor funds to pay other investors and his own personal expenses, and has agreed, under a plea agreement, to plead guilty to federal wire and mail fraud charges in exchange for a nearly 20-year prison sentence.
In May 2010, New Hampshire's current attorney general Michael Delaney issued a report faulting the state Banking Department and the state Securities Bureau, as well as New Hampshire's attorney general's office during Ayotte's tenure, for failing to investigate complaints against Financial Resources Mortgage. Concurrently, a joint state legislative committee conducted an independent investigation and held public hearings. The Joint Legislative Committee to Review the State’s Regulatory Oversight Over Financial Resources Mortgage reached conclusions similar to those of Delaney's report, according to a draft report. In 2002, the state Legislature transferred responsibility for investigating complaints against companies regulated by the Banking Department or the Bureau of Securities Regulation to those agencies. Consequently complaints about Financial Resources Mortgage that the attorney general's office received were sent to the Banking Department for further investigation. Ayotte said that she was not aware of the complaints filed against the company.
Ayotte's office deleted Ayotte's email and calendar of appointments from their computer systems prior to Ayotte's resignation as New Hampshire attorney general. Two days before Ayotte resigned her post and less than one week before Ayotte filed to run for the Senate Republican primary, Ayotte's office issued a policy memorandum covering deleted emails. The memorandum states that, "While courts have not yet addressed the issue, it is our view that electronic records that have been legally deleted and are available only on system back-up storage media are properly treated as no longer subject to disclosure" under New Hampshire's Right-to-Know Law.
On September 10, 2010, the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office released copies of many, but not all, of Ayotte's deleted emails in response to Right-to-Know requests. The Attorney General's Office also reported that many of Ayotte's "deleted" emails could not be recovered because backup tapes on which they had been stored had been re-used.
The legality of the permanent deletion of Ayotte's emails by New Hampshire's Attorney General's office is the subject of a lawsuit currently pending in New Hampshire's Merrimack County Superior Court.
New Hampshire Institute of Politics
Ayotte previously served as a board member of the Public Advisory Board at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College while Attorney General. She has returned to the Institute since being elected Senator. She made a visit in March 2011 to talk to political science students.
On May 28, 2013, she attended a forum at Saint Anselm College to explain her "Never Contract With the Enemy Act" (S. 675) she co-sponsored with Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). She was accompanied by Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen. They addressed military contractor fraud and how to prevent funds paid to military contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq from winding up in the hands of parties hostile to the United States.
Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Judd Gregg decided to retire, instead of seeking re-election in the 2010 senate election in New Hampshire. Ayotte resigned as attorney general on July 7, 2009 to explore a run for U.S. Senate in 2010. Ayotte was recruited by the National Republican Party (National Republican Senatorial Committee) in Washington to enter the race. On September 14, 2010, Ayotte defeated lawyer Ovide M. Lamontagne, businessman Bill Binnie and Jim Bender in the Republican Senate primary. In the general election, Ayotte ran against Democratic nominee U.S. Representative Paul Hodes, Libertarian nominee Ken Blevens, and Independent Chris Booth.
Many prominent GOP figures went to New Hampshire to help Ayotte in her 2010 campaign, including John McCain, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Haley Barbour, and Rick Santorum. According to one senior GOP aide, “The addition of a Republican woman from New England who’s young, who’s a mom … all of these things broaden the Republican party’s appeal and say to different segments of the population, ‘This party has folks in it that are just like you.’”
Ayotte has sponsored forty-one bills of her own, including:
112th Congress (2011-2012)
- S. 944 and S. 982, bills to keep the Guantanamo Bay detention camp open, to prohibit prisoners held there from being released back to their country of origin, and to prohibit the construction or modification of any facilities used to house any individual under detention at Guantanamo, introduced May 11 and 12, 2011
- S. 1704, a bill to reduce the number of strategic airlift aircraft used by the United States Air Force from 316 to 301, introduced October 13, 2011
- S. 1996, a bill to require the Congressional Budget Office to release macroeconomic reports alongside its budget reports for major bills and resolutions (which the bill defines), introduced December 15, 2011, reintroduced in the 113th Congress as S. 184
- S. 2320, a bill to treat Clark Veterans Cemetery in the Republic of the Philippines as a permanent military cemetery in a foreign country under the purview of the American Battle Monuments Commission, and to have the Commission restore and maintain the cemetery, introduced April 19, 2012. While this bill did not become law, an agreement has since been made between the U.S. and Philippine governments to do what the bill intended.
113th Congress (2013-2014)
- S. 31, a bill to permanently ban state and local governments from imposing taxes on the access to the internet and on goods sold by means of the internet, introduced January 22, 2013
- S. 263, a bill to prohibit federal agencies from hiring more than one employee for every three full-time employees who leave employment from that agency until the Office of Management and Budget determines that employment in that agency is at least 10% less than it was previously, and to prohibit members of Congress from receiving a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in their pay in years in which the federal government has a budget deficit, introduced February 7, 2013
- S. 862, a bill to allow certain individuals to be exempted from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's minimum essential health care coverage requirements[note 1] if one's religious beliefs would cause them to object to medical care provided under any of the requirements, introduced May 6, 2013
- S. 1406, introduced July 31, 2013, a bill to permit the Secretary of Agriculture to issue regulations for the issuance of permits for people hired for the management of horse shows, exhibitions, auctions, and sales, requiring all such individuals to be qualified to identify instances of soring. Individuals receiving the permits must be cleared of any potential conflicts of interest and preference is to be given to accredited veterinarians. The bill further makes it a crime for any person to sell, auction, exhibit, or race any sore horse, and bans Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking horses, and Spotted Saddle horses from being sold, auctioned, exhibited, or raced if they are equipped with any action device (which the bill defines) or equipment that would alter the gait of the horse. A companion bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives as H.R. 1518.
- S. 1764, a bill to prohibit the Department of Defense from retiring the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II until a sufficient number of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning IIs have been constructed to replace the existing A-10s, introduced November 21, 2013
- S. 1869, a bill to repeal the provision of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 that reduces the COLA to the retirement pay of members of the Armed Forces under age 62, and to require individuals claiming the refundable portion of the child tax credit to include their Social Security number on their tax returns, introduced December 19, 2013. The first part of this bill is identical to another bill, S. 1963, sponsored by Senator Mark Pryor.
- S. 1977, which has the same provisions as S. 1869, but also requires the name and Social Security number of the qualifying child of the individual claiming the tax credit to be on the tax return, introduced January 30, 2014
- S. 2355 and S. 2377, bills to exempt from the federal income tax any benefits received from a disability program for public safety officers if such disability was acquired as a result of an injury sustained in the line of duty, introduced May 20 and 21, 2014
Committee assignments (113th Congress)
- Committee on Armed Services
- Committee on the Budget
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
- Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security (Ranking Member)
- Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet
- Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation, and Export Promotion
- Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard
- Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security
- Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
- Special Committee on Aging
Gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples
Ayotte opposes same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples, which are both legal in New Hampshire. In 2010, she said at the June 5 Americans For Prosperity/NH – Cornerstone Action Senatorial Debate: "I absolutely support and believe in marriage as between a man and a woman, and I do think it's unfortunate that our state has made a different decision on that.... I do not think that we should overturn DOMA because ... we don't want one state's decision impacting another state's."
Ayotte voted for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (Senate Bill 744).
Labor rights and minimum wage
Ayotte opposes passage of Employee Free Choice Act ("Card Check"), which proposes to amend the National Labor Relations Act in a way that would allow unions to automatically be formed and would bypass the secret ballot whenever the National Labor Relations Board verifies 50% of the employees at a company sign authorization cards.
Ayotte opposes passage of legislation that mandates that employers provide paid sick leave to their employees.
Ayotte supports an individual's right to bear arms and Second Amendment rights. Ayotte supported the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of the Washington, DC, and City of Chicago gun ownership bans. As Attorney General, Ayotte fought against the reauthorization of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban.
Ayotte opposed establishing a Castle Doctrine on the 2nd Amendment. In 2006. Ayotte opposed a Republican-backed bill that would have clearly established a Castle doctrine for New Hampshire. Democratic Governor John Lynch sided with Ayotte. and vetoed the bill.
In 2013, Ayotte was the only New England Senator to oppose legislation offered by Sens. Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey to mandate background checks for all commercial gun sales. Following her vote against the measure, Ayotte was confronted by the daughter of one of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting at a town hall meeting in Warren, New Hampshire. She also saw a drop in her approval rating, according to Democratic-leaning pollster Public Policy Polling.
Ayotte questions the conclusiveness of the findings of scientific studies that human activity has caused significant climate change. She said that "there is scientific evidence that demonstrates there is some impact from human activities. However I don't think the evidence is conclusive."
Ayotte supports state-administered healthcare programs such as SCHIP and federal tax credits that serve to reduce the number of uninsured. In November 2013, amid growing concerns over the launch of the Affordable Care Act, particularly relating to delays associated with initial online signups for health coverage, Ayotte called for a “time-out” on the law during a televised interview with CNN, suggesting instead to “convene a group of bipartisan leaders to address health care concerns in this country because this is not working.” Ayotte was given the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Congressional Award in recognition of her support for increasing mental health resources.
Ayotte has stated that she is open to raising the Social Security retirement age for younger workers.
U.S. Supreme Court
Ayotte favors passage of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Ayotte favors ending any additional spending under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the "Stimulus Bill") and the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 ("TARP").
Ayotte believes that Congress should end the process of earmarking.
"I wouldn't have supported the TARP or the bailouts," Ayotte told a reporter. "Let the market adjust and pick the winners and losers. I do not think we should have bailed out the private sector. You start a business and when you succeed, the fruits of that is profits and when you fail, you pay the price."
To counter the federal government's debt and deficit problem, Ayotte proposes that every government department cut its budget by 20 percent from current levels, though "some may cut more, some may cut less." "We are on the path to bankrupt the greatest nation in the world."
Ayotte opposed passage of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, on her belief that it failed to directly address the "problem of" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and that the Act imposes additional regulatory burdens on community banks.
In April 2014, the United States Senate debated the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199; 113th Congress). It was a bill that "punishes employers for retaliating against workers who share wage information, puts the justification burden on employers as to why someone is paid less and allows workers to sue for punitive damages of wage discrimination." Ayotte said that one of her reasons for voting against ending debate on the bill was that Majority Leader Harry Reid had refused to allow votes on any of the amendments that Republicans had suggested for the bill.
In July 2012 on CNN, Ayotte stated: "The president's first major foreign policy speech in Cairo was to apologize for our country, and he's actually made us weaker around the world as opposed to stronger, and Mitt Romney will stand strong with our allies." Political commentary on whether the president apologized in his Cairo speech was mixed. PolitiFact, though its experts were split on the question, and it found that "Obama did get very close to regretting decades-old U.S. actions in Iran", rated Ayotte's claim that Obama's first speech abroad as President was an apology "false."
In October 2014 she wrote an op-ed in The Hill entitled "Abbas and the path to peace", in which she said: "Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has embarked on a destructive course harmful to the prospects for rebuilding Gaza and achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace."
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- Ayotte V. Planned Parenthood Of Northernnew Eng. Law.cornell.edu. Retrieved on November 13, 2010.
- Planned Parenthood to have attorney's fees paid, Seacoastonline.com.
- Dandurant, Karen (September 4, 2008). "Planned Parenthood to have attorney's fees paid".
- In ’09, Ayotte OK’d settling abortion case, Nashua Telegraph, September 3, 2010
- Jury issues first death sentence in New Hampshire since the 1950s, New York Times, November 19, 2008
- Ayotte Ad Features Family Of Michael Briggs – Politics News Story – WMUR Manchester. Wmur.com (August 4, 2010). Retrieved on November 13, 2010.
- Briggs family in Ayotte ad. Concord Monitor (August 5, 2010). Retrieved on November 13, 2010.
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- Report of the Attorney General to the Governor and Executive Council, May 12, 2010
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- David Catanese (May 3, 2010). "Fraud case complicates Ayotte bid". Retrieved October 8, 2010.
- Court to rule on status of Ayotte e-mail. Concord Monitor (September 30, 2010). Retrieved on November 13, 2010.
- Ayotte: Release my e-mails – David Catanese. Politico.Com. Retrieved on November 13, 2010.
- Ayotte e-mails from work: Should I run? – Saturday, Sep. 11, 2010. Unionleader.com. Retrieved on November 13, 2010.
- "New Hampshire Institute of Politics: Saint Anselm College". Anselm.edu. Retrieved August 23, 2010.
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- "U.S. and Philippine governments reach agreement on Clark Veterans Cemetery". December 13, 2013. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
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- . Retrieved on March 1, 2011.
- Welna, David (May 3, 2013). "Gun Background Vote Causes Heat At Home For N.H. Sen. Ayotte". NPR. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
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- Climate Change Skeptics Sweeping GOP Senate Primaries. NYTimes.com (September 20, 2010). Retrieved on November 13, 2010.
- Ayotte wants budget cuts. SeacoastOnline.com. Retrieved on November 13, 2010.
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- "'"Ayotte calls Justice Kagan 'unqualified,
- Kelly A. Ayotte (September 8, 2009). Kelly Ayotte at the Bedford Republican Committee.
- Budget and Spending | Kelly Ayotte. Ayotteforsenate.com. Retrieved on November 13, 2010.
- Time to stop the spendathon in Washington | Kelly Ayotte. Ayotteforsenate.com. Retrieved on November 13, 2010.
- Candidates pitch policies over breakfast. Concord Monitor (October 4, 2010). Retrieved on November 13, 2010.
- Senate candidates square off – Page 2. Concord Monitor. Retrieved on November 13, 2010.
- Ramsey Cox; Alexander Bolton (April 9, 2014). "Senate GOP blocks paycheck bill". The Hill. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
- Bendery, Jennifer (April 26, 2012). "Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Overwhelmingly Passes Senate". Huffington Post.
- "Kelly Ayotte parrots debunked Romney talking point". Tampa Bay Times Politifact. 29 July 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
- The ten services required to be covered by all plans under the PPACA are: ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, mental health and substance abuse disorder/behavioral health treatment, maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, rehabilitative services/devices, laboratory services, preventive and wellness services, including chronic disease management, and pediatric care.
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Project Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at The Library of Congress
- Senator Kelly Ayotte official U.S. Senate website
- Kelly Ayotte at DMOZ
|United States Senate|
United States Senator (Class 3) from New Hampshire
January 3, 2011–present
Served alongside: Jeanne Shaheen
New Hampshire Attorney General
|Party political offices|
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from New Hampshire
|United States order of precedence (ceremonial)|
United States Senators by seniority
|Congressional delegations to the 112th–114th United States Congresses from New Hampshire (ordered by seniority)|
|112th||Senate: J. Shaheen | K. Ayotte||House: C. Bass | F. Guinta|
|113th||Senate: J. Shaheen | K. Ayotte||House: C. Shea-Porter | A. Kuster|
|114th||Senate: J. Shaheen | K. Ayotte||House: A. Kuster | F. Guinta|