|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from New Hampshire's 2nd district
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2013
|Preceded by||Charles Bass|
|Chair of the New Democrat Coalition|
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2023
|Preceded by||Suzan DelBene|
|Born||September 5, 1956|
Concord, New Hampshire, U.S.
|Parent(s)||Malcolm McLane (father)|
Susan Neidlinger (mother)
|Education||Dartmouth College (BA)|
Georgetown University (JD)
Ann L. McLane Kuster (born September 5, 1956) is an American lawyer and politician serving as the U.S. representative for New Hampshire's 2nd congressional district since 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, she previously worked as a lobbyist.
Kuster chairs the New Democrat Coalition, a faction of moderate members.
Kuster was born in Concord, New Hampshire, on September 5, 1956. Both her parents were politicians. Her father, Malcolm McLane, was mayor of Concord, a member of the New Hampshire Executive Council, and an owner of Wildcat Mountain Ski Area. In 1972, he ran for governor of New Hampshire as an independent. He received 20% of the vote in an election that Republican Mel Thomson won with a plurality of 40%.
Kuster's mother, Susan McLane, was elected to the New Hampshire Senate as a Republican. In 1980, she ran for New Hampshire's 2nd congressional district, coming in second in the crowded Republican primary, with 25% of the vote. Judd Gregg won with 34% of the vote, while Charles Bass (whom Kuster defeated in 2012) came in third with 22%. Kuster's great-grandfather, John McLane, was governor of New Hampshire from 1905 to 1907. He was elected as a Republican in 1904 with 58% of the vote, defeating Democrat Henry Hollis.
Kuster graduated from Dartmouth College in 1978 with a degree in environmental policy. She received a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1984.
After college, Kuster became the director of Concord law firm Rath, Young and Pignatelli's education and nonprofit law practice group.
Kuster was a consultant and owner of Newfound Strategies LLC, a consulting firm.[dead link]
Kuster also worked as an "of-counsel" partner at Rath, Young and Pignatelli. Her legal practice focused on education, nonprofit, and health care policy. Kuster has also worked as an adoption attorney.
Kuster has served as chair and board member of the Capitol Center for the Arts and as a founder and vice chair of the Women's Fund of New Hampshire. She has also served on the boards of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, New Hampshire Public Radio, Child and Family Services of New Hampshire, the Alumni Council and Tucker Foundation at Dartmouth College, and Womankind Counseling Center.[dead link]
From 1989 to 2009, Kuster worked as a lobbyist in New Hampshire, earning more than $1.3 million in fees from various businesses and nonprofits. $460,000 of that money came from ambulatory surgical centers, $150,000 from investment companies, and $145,000 from pharmaceutical manufacturers and their association. In an editorial, the Union Leader wrote, "she's also a career lobbyist, not in dreaded Washington, but in Concord. But she's refused to use that word." Rather, Kuster called herself a "public policy advocate".
Kuster's career has also involved many years of lobbying on behalf of clients such as Merck Vaccines; the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), with which she helped created the NH Medication Bridge program, a public-private partnership that provides free prescriptions to patients in need; Fidelity Investments, with which she helped create the NH UNIQUE College Savings Plan to help families save money for college tax-free; Dartmouth College and Medical School; NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire; Bedford Ambulatory Surgical Center; and the New Hampshire College & University Council.
According to OpenSecrets, Kuster took $192,553 in contributions from lawyers and lobbyists during the 2010 election cycle.
In 1998, while working on behalf of the pharmaceutical manufacturer Hoffman-LaRoche, Inc., Kuster lobbied against HB 1553. The bill would have reclassified three drugs, including Rohypnol, linked to date rapes, assaults, robberies, and driving offenses, as Schedule 1 Controlled Substances, making them illegal to possess. The University of New Hampshire Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program's coordinator called the rescheduling of Rohypnol an "imperative", as the drug "poses an imminent and serious threat to public health and safety".
Kuster served on the New Hampshire steering committees of the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama in 2007–08 and John Kerry in 2003–04. She and Peggo Hodes (the wife of Representative Paul Hodes) also co-chaired New Hampshire Women for Obama. Kuster was a 2008 delegate for Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Denver and a member of the 2004 New Hampshire Delegation in Boston. In 2020, Kuster endorsed Pete Buttigieg for president, which broke her streak of endorsing the candidate who became the Democratic nominee.
See also: 2010 United States House of Representatives elections in New Hampshire § District 2
In 2010, Kuster ran for New Hampshire's 2nd congressional district against Republican nominee Charles Bass, Libertarian nominee Howard Wilson, and Independent candidate Tim vanBlommesteyn. It was an open seat as Democratic incumbent Paul Hodes was running for the U.S. Senate.
Bass defeated Kuster 48%–47%, a margin of 3,550 votes.
See also: 2012 United States House of Representatives elections in New Hampshire § District 2
Kuster ran against Bass again in the 2012 election. She received the endorsement of Democracy for America, and was selected as one of its Dean Dozen.
On November 6, 2012, Kuster defeated Bass, 50%–45%. In doing so, she became a part of the nation's first all-female congressional delegation. It included Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Senator Kelly Ayotte, and Representative Carol Shea-Porter.
See also: 2014 United States House of Representatives elections in New Hampshire § District 2
Kuster ran for reelection in 2014 against Republican State Representative Marilinda Garcia. Kuster beat Garcia 55-45%. She was a member of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Frontline Program, designed to help protect vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the 2014 elections. The primary election took place on September 9, and the general election on November 4. Republicans who ran in Kuster's district included Garcia and former State Senator Gary Lambert. Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton and his super PAC spent $30,000 on a two-week television ad buy opposing Kuster and her response to the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.
See also: 2016 United States House of Representatives elections in New Hampshire § District 2
Kuster was reelected in 2016, defeating the Republican nominee, former State Representative Jim Lawrence, 50-45%.
See also: 2018 United States House of Representatives elections in New Hampshire § District 2
On June 12, Kuster announced she would seek a fourth term in Congress. She ran unopposed in the primary. Four Republicans, Robert Burns, Stewart Levenson, Jay Mercer, and Steve Negron, vied to run against her in the general election, while Tom Alciere filed as a Libertarian candidate. Levenson, reported the Associated Press, "was one of the doctors behind a 2017 whistleblower complaint about care" at the Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and had "accused Kuster, whom he approached about the issue, of being slow to act on it". Negron won the Republican primary with 27% of the vote. Kuster was reelected.
See also: 2020 United States House of Representatives elections in New Hampshire § District 2
Kuster ran for reelection to a fifth term. She defeated Joseph Mirzoeff, her sole Democratic challenger, in the primary. In the general election, Kuster defeated Negron again, with 53.91% of the vote.
At a November 2013 Manchester town hall meeting, Kuster fielded questions about the Middle East. After reading a written question regarding establishing a select committee to investigate the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Kuster indicated that the questions "should stay focused on the Middle East". Audience members replied that Libya is in the "Middle East". Libya is generally not included in definitions of the Middle East, but it is part of the Arab world and the Arab Maghreb. The video quickly went viral online, gaining more than 260,000 views in less than 48 hours.
Kuster supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). In a joint presentation in July 2017, she and Representative Peter Welch asserted the need to overcome partisan disagreement on Obamacare and to "find common ground in fixing Obamacare" by focusing on "individual markets".
In November 2013, Kuster charged the National Security Agency, which had secretly tapped into data centers operated by Google and Yahoo, with violating privacy. "It just went way beyond what most people's expectations for privacy are in this country, and I think, despite people's best efforts to protect privacy, things had developed to a place where the American people now want to have a debate and have a conversation", she said. "It's a balancing act between privacy and safety and security of our country....But my point of view is we don't want to lose our liberty in the course of trying to protect our safety." This statement came days after she supported the USA Freedom Act, which would overhaul the NSA and curb its "worst excesses".
|2010||Ann McLane Kuster||105,060||46.8%||Charles Bass||108,610||48.3%||Tim vanBlommesteyn||Independent||6,197||2.8%||*|
|2012||Ann McLane Kuster||169,275||50.2%||Charles Bass (incumbent)||152,977||45.3%||Hardy Macia||Libertarian||14,936||4.4%||*|
|2016||174,495||49.7%||Jim Lawrence||158,973||45.3%||John Babiarz||Independent||17,088||4.9%||*|
|2018||155,358||55.5%||Steve Negron||117,990||42.2%||Justin O'Donnell||Libertarian||6,206||2.2%||*|
* Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2010, Libertarian candidate Howard L. Wilson received 4,796 votes. In 2012, write-ins received 206 votes. In 2014, write-ins received 613 votes. In 2016, write-ins received 236 votes. In 2018, write-ins received 151 votes. In 2020, write-ins received 147 votes.
In 2000, Kuster received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for "dedicated service to the Democratic Party at the local, state and national levels".
Kuster is married to Brad Kuster, a fellow lawyer. They reside in Hopkinton and have two sons.
Kuster and her mother, State Senator Susan McLane, coauthored a book, The Last Dance: Facing Alzheimer's with Love and Laughter. After her mother's death, Kuster and her father, Malcolm McLane, toured New Hampshire speaking publicly about aging and Alzheimer's disease and the resulting burdens on families and caregivers.
In February 2013, WMUR-TV reported that Kuster had been late paying property taxes on a home in Hopkinton starting in 2010 and had failed to pay two tax bills for a property in Jackson in 2012. After the report, Kuster said the bills were being paid. Kuster, whose assets have been estimated at $1.8 million, was reported to have been late on taxes six separate times since 2010, totaling $40,000 in back taxes. Kuster ultimately paid the taxes. When asked why she was consistently late, Kuster said, "Life is expensive."
On June 21, 2016, Kuster announced from the floor of the House that she had been sexually assaulted as a college student. She also said that when she was 23 and working as an aide on Capitol Hill, her boss took her to dinner with a "distinguished guest of the United States Congress" (South African heart surgeon Christiaan Barnard) who, under the table, put his hand under her skirt. Not long after, she was assaulted and mugged on a Washington street. She had never previously told anyone about these incidents. She said she had been motivated to come forward by a sexual assault case at Stanford University.
In Washington, Kuster lives with her close friend House Minority Whip Katherine Clark and other members.