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Local money only to fund mayoral race


Laidlaw investors back Grenier; No corporate donations received


October 14, 2009
BERLIN — Private investors in Laidlaw Energy Group are trying to raise money for mayoral candidate Paul Grenier. They want him to win because he of his support for Laidlaw's biomass project in Berlin.

"I've got a check I'm going to send to him tomorrow," said Matthew Borowski, the investor who posted Mr. Grenier's address to a Laidlaw investor chat room with the message, "Support Paul Grenier for Berlin Mayor: Mr. Paul Grenier will be challenging the incumbent David Bertram (sic) for Mayor of Berlin. Mr. Grenier is a supporter of Laidlaw Berlin Biopower and the jobs/tax revenue that will be generated from Laidlaw's proposed Berlin, NH Biopower plant. Please send donations to Mr. Grenier's campaign."

The website, Investorshub.advfn.com, provides a forum for investors to talk about a company. A number of investors on the site said they intended to send Mr. Grenier $100 after they read he was opposing incumbent Mayor Bertrand.

"We want to support Laidlaw," Mr. Borowski said. "There's definitely guys out there that could send in boatloads of money."

"I haven't got a dime," said Mr. Grenier, when asked if he'd received any out of town contributions. He said at first he would be comfortable taking money from individuals not from the area.

"I wouldn't see anything wrong with it as long as there is a local tie," he said.

But after some thought he said he would would not be comfortable taking money from outside the city.

Mr. Borowski does have local ties—his family lives in Gorham—but he does not live locally. His dad is an instrument technician who had to leave the area to find work, he said, and maybe if the Laidlaw project gets off the ground he can have a job close to home again.

But not every investor that expressed interest in sending Mr. Grenier money has local ties, Mr. Borowski said; he got the idea to generate money for Mr. Grenier from an investor in Florida. Some people in the chat room are only interested in making a return on their investment, not in the future of Berlin, he said, but some people there have been following the city for some time and have more than just a financial interest. He said all these people should be able to support Mr. Grenier financially.

There are no rules governing contributions in municipal elections.

Mr. Grenier said he will return any money he receives from non-Berlin residents.

"The office of the mayor can't be bought," he said. He has received substantial donations from Berlin residents, he said, totaling about $1,500. He said he intends to spend between $1,500 and $2,000.

Laidlaw's Lou Bravakis said this effort to fund Mr. Grenier is in no way tied to the company. These are individual investors, he said, trading Laidlaw's public stock, and Laidlaw has no intention of trying to influence the election.

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BERLIN — Mayor David Bertrand said he didn't receive any money from any companies for his campaign either this election or last, and he has never accepted contributions from people from outside the city.

He would be comfortable taking donations from Berlin residents, he said, but anything else would be improper.

He accepted money from Steve Griffin last election, he said, but he turned Mr. Griffin's attempt at a contribution down this year. He also refused a contribution from Mel Liston, the president of Clean Power development, this year.

He was never offered any money by any corporation, he said, and he would not have accepted it if he had.

"This is a low-budget election," he said. "I might spend $200."

He plans to use the campaign signs he saved from the last election, he said, and that's about all he will do.

Penny Pitou
Martin Lord Osman
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