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Voters Had Right to Know About State Rep's Criminal Past

Columnist says Stacie Laughton's decision to resign "shows a respect for the voters that was lacking during her campaign."

I have always believed that politics should be viewed as a type of community service, a path by which to help make the world in which we and future generations live a better place. I believe deeply that politicians should be true public servants, but too often our elected representatives disappoint us, putting power above the people and placing their own self-interests ahead of their elected duties.

It is a non-partisan fact that politicians will sometimes do stupid, or worse, criminal, things and must be held accountable for those actions. When Rep. Todd Akin, R-MO, made a stupid statement about “legitimate rape,” I called him stupid and said he should resign. He didn’t, but his comments were public and the voters in his district were able to have their say on Election Day, and Akin is no longer a representative in the United States Congress.

Here in Nashua’s Ward 4, a Democratic stronghold in the heart of the city, voters chose a slate of Democrats to represent them in Concord, including Selectman Stacie Laughton. A few days ago, as reported on Patch, we learned that Representative-Elect Laughton has a criminal history, including a felony conviction for credit card fraud. After a review of state statutes, and I imagine, more than a little pressure from her party, Laughton has agreed to resign and a special election will take place to choose her replacement.

The difference between Akin and Laughton and is that the voters in Missouri knew what their choice was. Akin’s comments were widely covered by the press, and when Election Day rolled around voters were able to make an informed choice. In the case of Laughton, her criminal past was not uncovered during the election, in part because she was living under a different name at the time, and voters cast their ballots without the full knowledge they deserved.

In the end, it was determined that Laughton was legally unqualified to serve, as two of her sentences have not yet been completed, but the bigger issue for voters should be the fact that she willfully hid what can only be described as a significant and important piece of her history while campaigning, and as such, she was inherently dishonest with them.

At the very least, as citizens and voters, we deserve honesty from those who ask for the extraordinary privilege of our vote.

We do not have a right to know everything about our candidates – their personal lives, their finances, their children – being a candidate or an elected official does not mean that you give up all rights to privacy. A criminal record that includes a felony conviction, however, should be part of the conversation if you are running for office.

Resigning without the public specter of an investigation was the right thing to do. It shows a respect for the voters that was lacking during her campaign.

Dan December 01, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Could someone please tell me what on earth is a Selectman in Nashua? It's funny that after looking at the Nashua City Charter, there is absolutely NO mention of what that role is, and that it is some powerful force in City Hall that a person would use it as a title prior to their last names?
ed stebbins December 01, 2012 at 04:07 AM
its the people at the polls who help with the election,
Dan December 01, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Lisa: I would like to state a few things. A.) If that is so true, how is it, that I never saw Stacie volunteering her time with Obama for America, at their campaign office in Nashua? Even more questioning that during that time, I never saw any literature on her as a candidate, and the only sign I saw, was the one she was holding around the corner from where I live (and I live in Ward 3??) B) You state that the voters did know and if the needed more then ask more? Really? So that is why it took a newspaper report out of Belknap County to bring this to all our attention..........supposedly because you were telling people in Ward 4, of Nashua, in Hillsborough County about her past? C.) You say for me to get over it. Yet, through the amount of work of many other volunteers, you somehow claim people knew about your past and we could ask that, and yet nobody knew, and yet this smacks in the face of all Democrats who won, over this issue, and I'm not supposed to "just get over it??" Sorry, but your disregard for other people is downright disgraceful, and irregardless of her being Transgendered, while I busted my butt to help Democrats (with a foot that I injured), and I feel really lousy that you and your partner would disgrace the work of many, through what amounts to deception. Too bad if it keeps haunting you...because that's not my problem........its YOUR PROBLEM.
Dan December 01, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Ed: Thank you. You have basically validated my thoughts, that the Laughton's are grossly overstating their importance as Selectmen. They are nothing more than an Election Clerk is in a town.
Dan December 01, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Considering that their past includes fraud, I have to agree, that these people should be no where near ANY polling places in New Hampshire.

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