NH Lawmakers and the Political Cost of Scandal
Five other New Hampshire legislators who stepped up or stepped down in the face of scandal.
On Thursday, after days of indecision, Stacie Laughton stepped down as state representative, ceremoniously signing her letter of resignation on camera at the Access Nashua cable TV station. The resignation comes after post-election reports about her 2008 conviction for credit card fraud. Laughton, who was New Hampshire’s first openly transgender state representative, was convicted and sentenced under a different name while she was living as a man. She also confirmed on Thursday that she was arrested twice in Nashua before she was 20.
Here’s a look at some other New Hampshire legislators who have dealt with scandals that came to light before and after they were elected. (For those keeping score, yes, most of these are Republicans. Suggest some apt comparisons from any party in the comments and we’ll add the best to the story.)
- Shamed out by His Own Party Chair: Former Republican state lawmaker Tom Alciere caused a public outcry when it was revealed in 2001 that he openly supported killing police officers. At the time, he told a local paper, ''It's unfortunate that cops do make it necessary (to kill them) when they're waging a war on drugs, and I view cops as enemy officers.” He also posted anti-cop messages online and on his personal website. According to ABC News, one of them read: "There is nothing wrong with slaughtering a cop. Just throw the carcass into the Dumpster with the rest of the garbage." Constituents were unaware of Alciere’s extremist views until months after he was elected—he said no one asked during his campaign. The state GOP chairman called for him to resign, USA Today reported, which he did in January 2001.
- Refused to Leave: New Hampshire voters found out about Ron “Tony” Giordano’s concealed criminal past after he had already been elected. The Salem Republican, who served as a state representative from 2000 to 2002, was convicted for forging checks and stealing handcuffs during the early 1980s; he did jail time twice in Massachusetts under the name Ron Gordon. Giordano said he would resign if his 6,000 constituents called for him to step down, ABC reported. In 2012, Giordano had another run-in with the law. He was indicted on drug charges after he allegedly sold more than 100 pills to an informant working with the police, Salem Patch reported. He was the Zoning Board of Adjustment chair at the time, and he stepped down after his arrest.
- Forced Out for a Facebook Post, Then Re-elected: In August 2010, State Rep. Timothy Horrigan, D-Durham, stepped down after writing a Facebook post about the death of 2008 vice presidential nominee and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Huffington Post reported. Horrigan wrote, "I don't wish Sarah Palin dead ... but not merely for compassionate reasons...Well a dead Palin wd be even more dangerous than a live one...she is all about her myth & if she was dead she couldn't commit any more gaffes.” He resigned the next day and cancelled his re-election campaign. Horrigan was re-elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in November 2012, according to the Nashua Telegraph.
- Stepped Down After Traffic Arrests While in Office: New Hampshire State Representative Gary Wheaton (R) resigned in 2011 after being arrested on charges of speeding and driving on a suspended license. It was his second traffic arrest—in 2010, he pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment, Newburyportnews.com reported.
- Campaigners Took the Bullet so the Candidate Survived: During the 2002 U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire, the state Republican Party hired a telecommunications company to jam the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s phone bank on Election Day, according to The Washington Post. Allen Raymond (a GOP political consultant), Charles McGee (the former executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party) and James Tobin (George W. Bush’s New England campaign chairman), were all sentenced in the scandal—but Republican John E. Sununu narrowly beat out then-governor Jeanne Shaheen for the Senate seat.