Concord, NH - Late yesterday afternoon, news broke that a Republican House aide had been caught posting partisan and derogatory comments on a local blog. The IP address and email account linked to the comments trace back to a staffer in the House Majority office who was pretending to be a Democrat, and using a State House computer during taxpayer funded work hours for his nefarious actions. The posts could be a potential violation of House ethics. (BlueHampshire, 3/16/2011)
"This could be a very serious breach of ethics," said Harrell Kirstein, press secretary for the New Hampshire Democratic Party. "The House staff, computers, and office space are paid for by the taxpayers. They should be used for the benefit of New Hampshire citizens, not to spin media coverage of House Republicans reckless agenda."
In 2006, an aide in Charlie Bass's Congressional office was caught making similar posts on the same website. After his identity was revealed, he was forced to resign for his disingenuous and irresponsible actions. (DailyKos, 10/20/2006; Roll Call, 9/25/2006)
At the start of the session Majority Leader Bettencourt promised to have a zero tolerance policy on ethics violations. (Union Leader, 1/6/2011) Since then there has been no action on Republican representatives who have confessed to crimes, the Speaker has pressured members to vote for a specific bill because a lobbyist "wants it passed," and now taxpayer funded employees are openly engaging in degrading partisan politics. (WMUR Political Scoop, 1/7/2011; Union Leader, 3/13/2011)
"The zero-tolerance for ethics violations ship sailed weeks ago," continued Kirstein. "Bettencourt should salvage what respect for House decorum and transparency is left in the circus tent he and the Speaker have been operating, and call for an investigation."