Democrats file ethics complaint over governor’s skiing tweet

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The New Hampshire Democratic Party is accusing Republican Gov. Chris Sununu of improperly promoting his family business by tweeting about the Waterville Valley ski resort from his official account.

A group of investors led by the Sununu family bought the ski area in 2010. Sununu resigned as CEO in December just before taking office, but relatives remain on the board of directors.

On Saturday, the governor tweeted a picture of himself on the slopes and said, “Best ski day! Great to be back at @waterville enjoying the best snow NH has to offer. Everyone should be in the white mountains this weekend.”

That prompted Democrats to file a complaint Wednesday with the Executive Branch Ethics Committee arguing Sununu violated rules against using his position to secure advantages for himself or others.

“The ski industry is a major economic driver in New Hampshire, with a billion dollar impact on the state,” Democrats wrote. “The use of Governor Sununu’s official position to promote Waterville Valley by name, to the exclusion of all other ski areas, provided Waterville Valley with a marketing platform that excluded every other competitor.”

Sununu’s spokesman, David Abrams, said the governor posts to his social media accounts as he travels across the state.

“It’s troubling that the Democrats would look to politicize our state’s tourism,” he said.

Sununu has sent about 300 tweets from the official account. Two of them mention Gunstock ski area, where he apparently chaperoned a school ski club; a handful of others mention diners, restaurants and country stores he has visited.

Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley called the tweet a “serious abuse” of power and compared it to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s promotion of a fashion line from the daughter of Republican President Donald Trump. Conway urged viewers to buy from Ivanka Trump’s fashion line during a television interview at the White House.

Administration employees are prohibited from using their official positions to endorse products or services, but the White House ethics attorney said Conway “acted inadvertently” and “without nefarious motive.”

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