Laughton Told She's Not Eligible, Drops Out of Special Election
Stacie Laughton got a call Wednesday morning from Secretary of State Bill Gardner with the news.
"I'm definitely disappointed," said Stacie Laughton, after learning this morning that she cannot run for the Ward 4 state representative vacancy created when she previously bowed out.
"I feel like I could crawl in a hole and cry right now, but I'm not going to do that," Laughton said, during a phone interview Wednesday morning, shortly after reading a statement sent to her by Secretary of State Bill Gardner. [See two-page letter uploaded here in PDF format.]
In question was whether Laughton, who served time in 2008 for credit card fraud, was eligible to run for elected office in New Hampshire based on the terms of a suspended sentence.
"Bill Gardner said he finally got a statement from the AG's office, and that they don't feel I've completed the final discharge of my sentence," Laughton said.
Mentioned in the letter, in addition to the suspended sentence, is the fact that restitution has not yet been paid in full.
Last week, Laughton made the trip to Concord to declare her candidacy for the special election for a Ward 4 state representative. The election was necessary after Laughton, who won election in November, resigned her seat amid controversy.
Democrat Pam Brown and Republican Elizabeth Van Twuyver have also declared their candidacies for the Ward 4 vacancy. With Laughton out, there will be no need for a primary election, and the general election will now be held Feb. 19, according to City Clerk Paul Bergeron.
"That's good news for Ward 4 voters, who will get their representative in place sooner than later," Bergeron said.
Bergeron also received a call from Gardner Wednesday morning, but has yet to read the attorney general's decision. But he anticipates it will likely determine that Laughton must also step down from her elected post as ward selectman.
"If it states that she's ineligible to hold state office, then state statute applies to ward selectmen as well. By end of day, I will have had a chance to read the memo, and if necessary, talk to our legal department before responding to Stacie on that matter," Bergeron said.
Also affected by that determination would be Lisa Laughton, ex-wife of Stacie Laughton, who was also convicted of fraud and serves as a Ward 4 selectman.
Bergeron said any selectman vacancies would be filled by appointment.
Laughton said she believes her trip to Concord last week to file her candidacy for the special election forced the attorney general's office to make a decision.
"I think I pushed them a little bit, to get the statement completed. I don't think they wanted to deal with it, and maybe the decision would've been out sooner if I'd just stayed in office in the first place," Laughton said.
She said she will continue to find ways to contribute to the community and would like to run again as a ward selectman when she is eligible.
"I love that aspect of the election process and would like to serve again," Laughton said.