So we have a respected public employee, Transportation Commissioner Carol Murray, who says that Governor Lynch pressured her to circumvent the law in regards to selling “E-Z Pass” transponders below cost. The Commissioner did not follow through, much as Howard Zibel the State Supreme Court Clerk did not engage in cherry-picking a judge for then Supreme Court Justice Thayer’s divorce hearing when asked to. Remember that story? Chief Justice Brock deep-sixes tough judge Pappagianis who Judge Thayer earlier had stated he did not want on his divorce. Here is some testimony from that case:
“22 Q. (Attorney Seinfeld) Okay. So pick it up from there, please. The
23 chief justice comes around the corner, sticks (end of page)
1 his head in. You're on the phone?
2 A.(Zibel) On the phone.
3 Q. Standing or sitting?
4 A. I'm sitting. The phone is to my left ear. My
5 phone is off to my left.
6 The chief said -- I don't remember the
7 exact words, but something to the effect of, the
8 message I got, was don't call Pappagianis. And
9 my recollection is I covered the phone, the
10 mouthpiece, and said that I was on the phone
11 with Justice Pappagianis. And at some point in
12 my conversation with the chief I had told him
13 that he had accepted to be on the panel, but I
14 don't remember whether that was when I got off.
15 Most likely it's when I got off. It was a very
16 awkward moment.
17 But I remember covering the mouthpiece
18 and then getting back on the phone with Justice
19 Pappagianis and saying that the chief wants me.
20 And I think I said something like, you know how
21 it is, which is a reference -- reference to
22 Justice Pappagianis being a former clerk of the
23 court and, of course, when the chief wants you, (end of page)
1 you do what the chief says.”
Pretty simple, you don’t ask employees to break the law. Here is what appears to be the relevant criminal statute for pressuring public employees, paragraph I.
642:1 Obstructing Government Administration. –
I. A person is guilty of a misdemeanor if that person uses intimidation, actual or threatened force or violence, simulated legal process, or engages in any other unlawful conduct with a purpose to hinder or interfere with a public servant, as defined in RSA 640:2, II, performing or purporting to perform an official function or to retaliate for the performance or purported performance of such a function.
II. Flight by a person charged with an offense, refusal by anyone to submit to arrest, or any such interference in connection with a labor dispute with the government shall be prosecuted under the statutes governing such matters and not under this section.
III. In this section, "simulated legal process" means a document or order which purports to have been issued by a court or filed or recorded for the purpose of exercising jurisdiction or representing a claim against a person or property, or for the purpose of directing a person to appear before a court or tribunal, or to perform or refrain from performing a specified act, but which the actor knows was not lawfully issued or rendered in accordance with the applicable statutes, rules, regulations, or ordinances of the federal, state, or local government, or a political subdivision thereof. "Simulated legal process" includes any document that purports to be a summons, lien, indictment, complaint, warrant, injunction, writ, notice, pleading, subpoena, or order.
IV. For any offense committed under paragraph I that involved the use of simulated legal process, the court may impose the following remedies, in addition to any criminal penalties authorized under RSA 651:
(a) Such appropriate injunctive relief as the court may deem necessary to prevent continued violations of this section.
(b) Restitution to the public official for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the simulated legal process, including legal fees.
Source. 1971, 518:1, eff. Nov. 1, 1973. 2003, 168:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2004.
So maybe Governor Lynch should be subject to the same scrutiny other people are. That would in itself be ethical although inconsistent with standard NH practice I normally have to deal with as a taxpayer activist. At least we can hope for a fresh start.
Obviously we would need a non-partisan prosecutor from out of state to keep the process ethical and fair. Then to save the taxpayers money and to keep the whole mess from lingering on for more than a few years (like Governor Benson york-raking a beach or remodeling the office bathroom) Governor Lynch could just plead guilty like Chuck McGee and former Speaker Gene Chandler did, you know, be a man about it. When confronted with the law and in light of your actions accept the punishment and move on.
Coalition of NH Taxpayers