Concord - Former New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Kathy Sullivan released the following statement on the actions of the House Subcommittee on Elections today.
"It has become abundantly clear that Speaker O'Brien and his leadership now recognize that the reckless political vendetta they embarked on against Rep. Michael Brunelle was a mistake, both under the law and as a political strategy. Rather than admit their mistake, however, they are now going to engage in a charade to make it look like they care about the meaning of the New Hampshire Constitution. If they were interested in a fair process and the meaning of the Constitution, they would have sought advice through the appropriate process before putting Rep. Brunelle through this very public, ham-fisted act of political bullying. This is like arresting someone, and keeping him in a cell, until they can figure out a charge. That is not appropriate under our system of government.
"As Speaker, when Bill O'Brien hears of a charge against any member of the House, whatever their party, he has an obligation to determine whether there is a basis for the charge. He did not do so. Instead, he told Rep. Greazzo to go ahead and accuse Rep. Brunelle of a constitutional offense even thouigh O'Brien apparently had no idea of the meaning of the constitutional provision in question. He allowed Rep. Greazzo to smear Rep. Brunelle's good name, and then tried to capitalize on that smear for political gain when he allowed Majority Leader Bettencourt to send out a press release while the vote was being taken. This was a gross abuse of power by the Speaker, and that abuse continues. Rep. Brunelle is left in limbo, under a cloud, while Representatives O'Brien, Bettencourt and Mirski try to educate themselves on something that they should have known before this matter ever was allowed to proceed to the House.
"Even worse, Republican leadership now is compounding their smear of Rep. Brunelle with attacks on other state representatives. Yesterday, Rep. Ken Wyler, chairman of the House Finance Committee, said that the Democratic representatives who objected to the actions of the leadership suffer from "mental illness." It was not enough to act in an unconstitutional manner. Now they are resorting to juvenile name calling and insults against colleagues who stand up to what the Union Leader called a sleazy, sophomoric trick. Speaker O'Brien needs to show leadership and bring this whole fiasco to an end, and start engaging in the work of the people of New Hampshire."