Peter T. Paul, Dan Innis and questions of ethics

Should Paul’s $500k Super PAC raise concerns?

About a year ago, the University of New Hampshire and Saint Anselm College received a significant chunk of change from the Tyco International settlement with the goal of teaching ethics.

I have a suggestion for the students taking the new ethics courses offered at the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics at UNH: Instead of analyzing fictional problems, why not tackle a real-world dilemma and recommend appropriate action to the key players — your former dean, his political benefactor and UNH?

Let's lay out a couple of facts.

Point 1: Peter T. Paul is a 1967 UNH alum, but he is also something more. I found a "job description" of Mr. Paul in an article entitled, “New investors swoop on battered U.S. housing market,” published by Reuters in the fall of 2009.

According to the article, “Peter Paul, who contributed to the expansion of credit to Americans in the 1990s by helping devise ways to package and sell mortgage debt to investors, has transformed his business from a loan originator to a buyer of distressed loans …

“By buying up distressed loans and getting homeowners current on payments through refinancing or payment plans, Paul said his Headlands Asset Management, based in New York and San Rafael, California, is set to make profits of 30 percent.”

Point 2: In 2007, Dan Innis became dean of the Whittemore School of Business and Economics founded in 1962 at UNH.

Point 3: In 2008, Peter T. Paul donated $25 million to the UNH business school. According to a UNH press release from the time, Innis was instrumental in securing the gift and oversaw construction of the new business school that was renamed the Peter T. Paul College of Business.

Point 4: In the fall of 2013, Dean Innis stepped down to embark on a possible run for Congress in the 1st Congressional District. It was noted in the press release that he was approached in July 2013 to consider a run, and after discussing with family and friends, he decided to put his energy into exploring it. He announced his candidacy in October.

Point 5: In February 2014, the Union Leader reported that there was "a new big dollar player in New Hampshire politics and his name is Peter T. Paul …(who) is setting up a Super PAC whose first goal is to help his friend Dan Innis become a congressman.”

Paul was “starting off by putting about $500,000 of his own money into the uncoordinated independent expenditure effort and is looking to double that through fundraising.”

Question 1: Has anyone asked Dan Innis if it was Peter T. Paul who approached him to run?

Question 2: Does Innis support the creation of Peter T. Paul’s Super PAC, which has been created primarily to help him defeat former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta in the Republican Primary?

Question 3: Does Innis think that Peter T. Paul's unlimited checkbook to support for his candidacy will undermine his ability to exercise independence when or if he gets to Congress?

Question 4: Does anyone think that the situation, where the former dean of the new Peter T. Paul College is now the new Republican candidate for Congress being supported by the generous benefactor of the UNH business school that bears his name, smacks of the appearance of impropriety?

Question 5: Given Peter T. Paul's line of work that involved the packaging and selling of mortgage debt to investors – an activity that was specifically cited as a key factor leading to the economic meltdown of 2008 – does Innis believe he can provide oversight and regulation of such activity in Washington, if it might affect the lucrative activity currently employed by his financial benefactor?

Question 6: At the end of an interview with a UNH student publication, the departing Dean Innis told student reporter Jacob Leboux: "Don't lose faith in the system." What system was he talking about?

Arnie Arnesen, a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate, is host of “The Attitude” on WNHN-FM and

Categories: Opinion