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Republicans Call for Laughton to Resign

House Majority Leader Pete Silva says newly elected legislator should have come clean on her criminal history.

House Majority Leader Pete Silva, R-Nashua, is calling on newly elected State Rep. Stacie Laughton, D-Nashua, to resign her post after "not coming clean" with constituents about her past conviction in 2008 for credit card fraud, for which she served four months in Belknap County House of Corrections.

That news came over the weekend in a story published by the Laconia Daily Sun. The Daily Sun's Gail Ober, who wrote the story, said that while Laughton's criminal history was well known in Laconia, she was unaware Laughton was running for office in Nashua until after the election results came in.

"None of us realized it until two or three days after the election," Ober said. "I also didn't realize he'd legally changed his name to Stacie Laughton."

Laughton made headlines after announcing her candidacy in June, for being the first openly transgender candidate. Her successful election made her the state's first transgender elected official.

Laughton served a little more than four months of a 1-year sentence, from July to November of 2008, and two years probation, which ended in Nov. 2010, according to Jeff Lyons, public information officer for the state Department of Corrections.

Lyons also said Laughton makes regular payments on the $1,991.54 she was ordered to pay in restitution for her crime.

Legally, there is no restriction in New Hampshire against convicted felons from running for office or voting, according to the state Voting Code.

In an exclusive interview on Nov. 24 with Nashua Patch, Laughton said she had expected her past to come to light sooner, and was prepared to field questions from constituents and the media.

"I didn't feel it was necessary to tell [constituents], but I felt like if it came to light – which it has – I was going to be honest. I was prepared for it to come out during the campaign," Laughton said. "I don't want to step down; I want to serve the people – that's all I've wanted to do, and regardless of my past, I can do it and serve them."

Laughton also said she is trying to put her past behind her. 

"I know we live in a society where they say once you're a felon and shouldn't be able to work here, or there. But people get out of jail, every day, and we spend so much to rehabilitate them. I just want to prove myself," Laughton said.

However, in the statement issued by Silva Monday morning, he cites Laughton's lack of transparency as the issue.

“It is unfortunate that Ms. Laughton did not come clean with the voters of her district during the election process. If I lived in the district, I would be extremely disappointed to learn, just days after the election, that my neighborhood was going to be represented by a person that only 4 years ago was convicted of a felony charge involving conspiracy and fraud and served time in prison," wrote Silva.

"While I believe in a person’s ability to be rehabilitated and become a productive member of the community, I also believe it is a candidate’s duty to fully disclose their personal history to allow the voters an opportunity to make an informed decision. Ms. Laughton failed to give the voters of her district that very basic amount of trust and respect. Lawmakers should hold themselves to a higher standard and Ms. Laughton has already failed the voters of her district by not being forthright with them. Ms. Laughton should step down immediately in order to allow for an election process where voters are given the opportunity to evaluate candidates through an open and transparent process; something they were denied on November 6th."

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Silva called on “Democratic leaders including Rep. Terri Norelli, Chairman Ray Buckley and Governor-Elect Maggie Hassan," to  "realize the injustice being done to the people of Nashua’s Ward 4" and join with Republicans in asking Laughton to "step down immediately.”

Laughton made headlines as the first openly transgender elected official in New Hampshire. Her conviction and jail time was served while she was living in Laconia as a man, under the name Barry Laughton Jr.

She has since changed her name and begun the physical process of transitioning to a female identity.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley did issue the following response to Silva just after noon on Monday:

"The outgoing Majority Leader needs to accept the defeat dealt to him on November 6th and come to terms with the fact that he only has two weeks left in office as Bill O'Brien's chief lieutenant. The people have spoken and they roundly rejected Bill O'Brien and Pete Silva's extreme agenda and it is now time to move New Hampshire forward, away from their divisive policies and tactics that moved us backwards for two years."

On Sunday, Nashua City Democratic Committee Chairman David Tencza said he was not prepared to comment on the question of Laughton's status or a call for resignation until having the chance to speak directly with Laughton. He said the news of her past in Laconia was not previously known to city party members.

He also said that based on the information included in the Laconia Daily Sun story, there did not seem to be a legal basis for Laughton to have to resign.

On Monday, Nashua's Ward 4 Alderman, Art Craffey, said he has yet to field a phone call from a Ward 4 resident on the Laughton issue – but personally, he agrees with Silva, that Laughton should have disclosed her full background to voters before the election.

"I have mixed feelings about this. I do know her personally, I've gotten to know her over the course of a few months, and I wish she had made it known up front.  It would've affected the way people view her, and it makes it look like she's trying to hide something – a politician trying to hide something makes constituents suspicious," Craffey said.

"As an elected representative, you can't lose the people's trust and, to me, this becomes a trust issue," he said.

Craffey, a second-term Republican alderman, also believes that even had she disclosed her past, Laughton would have won in Ward 4 – a "huge Democratic ward." 

But he does not believe Laughton should resign.

"It's too late for that. The she won the election, fair and square, and did what she was supposed to do. Now she's going to have to earn the trust, not only of the people she represents, but her fellow state representatives," Craffey said.

"I'm afraid people are going to wonder what else they don't know. When you go into politics, everything is fair game. I find it's always best to be up front and honest," Craffey said.

"And it two years she'll have to face the people again. People have long memories. They don't forget dishonesty. Look at Ted Kennedy – he did a lot of great things while he was in office, but when you say Ted Kennedy, the first thing people say is 'Chappaquiddick.' That's just how it is."

Babette BJ November 27, 2012 at 03:16 PM
I thought our previous president, a republican, lied on his application to 'spare his daughters from embarrassment'. Wasn't he caught driving drunk and thrown in the slammer for one night?
Dan Shapira November 27, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Yes! I see the big problem when it was found out that J.W. Bush lied about his felony conviction (drunk driving) on his petition for being a candidate for the presidency I did not hear about your sadness. Well, we all know now he was not qualified for any national office.....
R. Scott White November 27, 2012 at 04:57 PM
That's a canard Roberta spread by local talk show hosts and misleading Facebook questions and polls; I've seen them. Someone needs to find the law regarding felons and voting and clear this up with the backed up documentation. (and I'm too lazy at the moment to do it myself).
David Pittelli November 27, 2012 at 05:46 PM
You make a good argument for why she should not be impeached. It's not such a good argument for why we should not be disgusted with her, or for why she should not be asked or encouraged to resign.
David Pittelli November 27, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Babette, I don't believe there's an official application for President where the candidate is asked for his criminal history. (And we know there isn't one for NH state Rep.) Please correct me if I am wrong with the name of this application or a link.
David Pittelli November 27, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Dan, People lose rights for felony convictions. Not for arrests. Nevertheless, many politicians of both parties have resigned (voluntarily, albeit under pressure) prior to or in the absence of any conviction (e.g., Newt Gingrich; Mark Foley, but not Gerry Studds; Jim McGreevey; Ken Ard). I do not know of any prior examples where a politician won office with a criminal record unknown to the public due to a name change. Since McMahon has credibly claimed that he has done nothing illegal or wrong, it is silly to expect him to resign or to criticize others for not calling for him to reason.
David Pittelli November 27, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Laws on felon voting and running for office are set at the state level. Most, but not all, states allow felons to vote once their sentences are completed. There is an important reason to not prevent felons from running for office: Any such restriction would give a government strong incentive to prosecute its political opponents, even if such prosecution is corrupt or disproportionate to what a person who is not a political opponent would receive. A system with such restrictions would also increase the appearance of such corruption even in good-faith prosecutions of a politicians. Also, if the people know of a politician's criminal record, they may rightfully choose to discount it, if they think the law is stupid or the prosecution unjust.
David Pittelli November 27, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Yeah, because the Democrats researched the background of 400+ Republican candidates to the extent that they would have found a name change? Kinda hard to Google that, unless the name change made the news.
Lizy Duncan November 27, 2012 at 07:06 PM
My question is has his modest salary been reported to the local housing authority and to social security so that adjustments have been made for her(his) payments and housing assistance
David Pittelli November 27, 2012 at 07:31 PM
1) It's not a smear to point out that your opponent is mentally unbalanced and a criminal, if it is true. Anyone looking at the recent linked Laconia Sun piece can come to a judgement on that. 2) Reading the newspaper (or using Google) won't help you if the person in question has changed their name, unless the name-change was itself in the news. 3) With over 400 State Reps, few get the sort of attention you assume should be standard. Her district leans sufficiently Democratic that it would be a very low priority to engage in opposition research there. 4) The voters of the district are the ones who have "bought" her.
irene November 27, 2012 at 08:08 PM
you made a very good statement. im not understanding why people serve their time they are still punished by goverment, its time the prison doors close
irene November 27, 2012 at 08:10 PM
its crazy how goverment is still convicting her after she has served her time. its time that people stand up for whats right and stop allowing the goverment to create their own rules.
Ray Guarino November 27, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Hey Dave, Don't you mean former criminal? And I didn't know you were qualified to diagnose whether a person is mentally unbalanced or not? And maybe that's why the district leans Democratic, the Republicans maybe have a low priority to engage opposition, sort of a self fullfilling prophecy.
Lizy Duncan November 27, 2012 at 08:50 PM
No what's crazy is that felons can be elected to office
Watts November 27, 2012 at 09:20 PM
2010 ran as Barry "Stacie" Laughton on the ballot. We aren't talking about somebody hiding in the shadows, we are talking about a transgender candidate that has been running for public office in New Hampshire for years. If the NH Republican party couldn't figure this one out before the election, then that is what I was talking about in regards to that they should just hang their collective heads in shame for now coming after this person simply because the party took such a battering on the state and national levels in this past election cycle. And as far as Democrats, point out one example where a Republican who was just elected is now being asked to step down for any reason for facts being discovered after the fact?
Watts November 27, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Please refer to David Pittelli post, just a few posts up from this to see exactly why it is not crazy.
Lizy Duncan November 28, 2012 at 12:28 AM
I'm sorry my boss commented under my name at work, not that I don't disagree with what he said. My whole issue is the fact that Ms. Laughton didn't disclose this before election, would that make a better story saying that the past is the past, and people can grow with their past. There must be a reason why Laconia didn't elect him then. The real question should be why did she say that was different in Nashua to get her elected now.
P.Robison November 28, 2012 at 02:24 AM
I Voted for her despite having been given poor information regarding her past, I was given a slip of paper with a brief description of her background and experience, have to admit I was sceptical at the time, no mention of criminal past...This is more than just one crime she committed too and Felony Convictions to boot, I would NOT have Voted for her knowing this and should she not be stepping down I would have been contacting the A.G.'s office myself as well as the Speaker of the House and another State Rep or two I know here in town to express my concerns. Ms. Laughton does not seem to respect the Laws why should she be taking part in making Laws for the rest of us to abide by? It has not been a long period of time from which these crimes were committed either, not like she has been doing good things for the last 20 years and now is running for State Office....Have to agree with the Republicans on this one, first time in a long time but I agree she needs to step down.
Watts November 28, 2012 at 06:28 AM
"Ms. Laughton does not seem to respect the Laws why should she be taking part in making Laws for the rest of us to abide by?" Yeah, because God forbid that anybody who ever broke the speed limit or smoked a joint or drank a beer before the legal drinking age or downloaded a copyrighted song or dropped a popsicle stick or jaywalked or bummed a pain pain pill (or any such prescribed medicine) from a friend's personal prescription or any of the other multitude of ways that people compromise their adherence to the law when their personal circumstances either call for it or that it conveniences them. Your analysis is either grossly naive or grossly ignorant of the realities of this world.
David Pittelli November 28, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Watts, According to the Laconia story linked above, she ran in a district where the Democrats' winning is pretty much a foregone conclusion. So it is not surprising that Republicans put little effort into opposition research. It is of course Democrats, not Republicans, who are actually putting real pressure on her to resign. They needn't care about her one vote, but they do not want to be associated with her background (I mean the felonies and the real or feigned mental illness, not her transgender status).
David Pittelli November 28, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Watts, Have you read the Laconia Daily Sun article? Unless you think the Sun is libeling her, I think it is pretty clear that most people would say she disqualified herself in a way that the "criminals" you described have generally not. Speeding and jaywalking are civil offenses, not crimes, and all the other ones you mention are victimless crimes (joint, beer, pill) or both minor and almost universal (littering, downloading). None of these would lead to jail time unless repeated or scaled up (say, selling joints or pills or illegal downloads). You actually condemn her with your choice of "crimes" because you don't mention the sort of real crimes (premeditated felonies) and the selfish, crazy behavior which she (according to the Sun) engaged in, because you know that her crimes don't arouse sympathy.
P.Robison November 28, 2012 at 02:18 PM
I have read the Laconia Daily Sun Article, I am neither grossly naive and definitely NOT ignorant, have you not seen the News as well? WMUR interviewed a random couple who were also not happy to say the least after learning of the Felony Charges....They like myself could have cared less that she is Transgender. I give everyone a fair shot till they prove themselves otherwise which I do believe Ms. Laughton has. BTW does anyone know if she has " Legally" changed her name ?? Apparently one easy way to change ones' name is to mearly start using another one...This doesn't fly if you want to get a drivers License but it's the gateway to getting your name changed....The name change needs to be approved by a Judge for it to be official....I also wouldn't feel right about Voting for her if the name change hadn't gone through the proper Court proceedings. I DO have the right to my opinions Watts unless this isn't the U.S.A. and Freedom of Speach isn't applicable.
P.Robison November 28, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Actually Ms. Laughtons Felony Sentences were " Suspended", sure she served 4 Months in Jail but she has 6 more years to go before she could Legally run for office. It seems she consulted an Attorney as well who told her she had a weak case should she want to fight it. Seems fair to me,
P.Robison November 28, 2012 at 02:53 PM
BTW anyone know if Laughtons' name change is Legal??.....I got curious and Googled it, said one way to change ones' name is to simply start using another one. This doesn't fly if you want to get a Drivers License, you have to go before a Judge and have the change approved before it's really official....I wonder where the Laws stand on running for a State Office under an " assumed" name. Remember I have admitted I Voted for her so I didn't start out having a negative opinion....I was NOT however provided a thorough background info, even when I asked I was given a flimsy piece of paper with a brief introduction to Laughton and what she stands for and her experience.....I have every right to feel slighted.
Dan November 28, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Dan Shapira: Thanks, I was being sarcastic with my response. I knew the attorney up in Maine who pulled up W's drunk driving arrests in the 2000 election.
Dan November 28, 2012 at 03:13 PM
While I am not speaking for the Democrats during the past election, or the State Party as a whole, but as a volunteer who gave many hours, I would like to say this much. Ms. Laughton's campaign was questionable in the fact that there was little idea that she was running at the Nashua Campaign Office, (no signs or literature), and secondly from my standpoint (I have helped other candidates, one congressional, get elected so I have some experience), the lack of educational background. A person with a Culinary Arts Certificate isn't going to be much help in Concord. Not that it can't happen, but realistically...lets be honest. She did a valiant job getting the support that I agree with. Did she deceive anyone as per the Laconia Report, that is questionable. After seeing that my support was wavering there. Furthermore, the other evidence regarding the competency testing was the last shoe. Whether she's Transgendered, or has Mental Health Issues, doesn't make her a bad person, it is whether her past with the law, and trying get elected and whether she hid the issue even as a Ward Selectperson is the big issue.
Valjean November 28, 2012 at 08:04 PM
This is not a legal issue. Shouldn't a party so hung up on the Constitution leave this woman alone and focus on the problems of real, hard-working Americans?
Dan November 28, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Valjean: First off, Ray Buckley, who is one of the first openly gay State Political Party chairperson in the country, had suggested that she probably should resign and come back in another 2 or 4 years. There are some legal, if not some ethical questions about whether or not she was honest about running for office. With that said, it seemed as if this were never an issue (and she said that it "didn't define who she was"). She needed to be more open about this in the first place. As for her being the blame that the city will have to have maybe 2 elections for that seat, that is WRONG, as the state law that caused this mess was far from being perfect. Lastly, I think that Stacie needs to have more than a Certificate in Culinary Arts in her background. Her ability to communicate effectively may work in Ward 4, but may not work well in the State Capitol. I wish that this would propel some standard for representation in Concord, to bring younger people in the fray. $200 a term is hardly worth anyones time, and what you got 2 years ago shows that there needs to be some changes to bring New Hampshire out of the stone ages..
Tasha Lynn November 30, 2012 at 08:55 AM
Dear Mr Duncan, or Lizy rather... The proper pronoun that one would use when referring to a woman or someone that identifies as female would be "Her". Not "his" or "her(his)" as you felt necessary to use in your post. Your post, illuminating the fact that you have significantly less than a firm grasp on basic grammar and at most a first grade understanding of the English language, made me want to jump in and "help" you by pointing out your glaring mistake. Hopefully this will serve to keep you from further embarrassing yourself should you ever feel the need to post again. Even though your post was extremely insensitive, rude and beyond disrespectful to Miss Laughton as well as anyone else (such as myself) in the Transgender community worldwide, I do applaud you Sir for taking the training wheels off and trying to sound like you have some idea of what is going on. It's good to see a gentleman like yourself trying to at least put across the illusion that you keep abreast (no gender pun intended) of current events and know what is going on... Even though you missed your mark and failed miserably in your efforts, I guess a girl like me can't blame a guy like you for trying can I? Better luck next time and good evening to you Sir.
Former Ward Selectman Stacie Laughton December 04, 2012 at 05:13 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FsnGAXeCtE&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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