Republicans, Media, Public Demanding Answers
CONCORD - Speaker Bill O'Brien must give a full accounting of his participation in the DJ Bettencourt and Bob Mead scandals, Democratic House leaders said.
"Speaker Bill O'Brien is a public official and he owes the public answers. The Speaker's administration apparently misused public funds for political purposes and attempted to cover up a major deception by his second-in-command," said Rep. Terie Norelli, House Democratic Leader. "These are not issues that can be just swept aside for political purposes. Speaker O'Brien must give the people of New Hampshire, and the members of the House, a full and clear accounting of his role in both of these scandals."
The media has reported that an aide in the majority office, Bob Mead - who is also a close associate of Speaker O'Brien's - billed taxpayers for mileage on trips to recruit Republican House candidates, and apparently spent taxpayer-funded time on "Republican outreach." O'Brien's office said they were too busy to answer questions about what Mead was doing for his taxpayer-funded salary.
Then this weekend, O'Brien's second-in-command, D.J. Bettencourt abruptly resigned when it was discovered that he had apparently falsified internship reports to the University of New Hampshire Law School. Bettencourt at first claimed he was resigning to take a new job - with a foundation created by O'Brien.
In today's Foster's Daily Democrat, Republican Representative Julie Brown, said she believed there should be an investigation into the Speaker's role in attempting to cover up Bettencourt's alleged frauds. The Concord Monitor today called on Speaker Bill O'Brien to answer a number of questions about his role in the Bettencourt scandal. And today's Union Leader blasted O'Brien for being unclear about the Mead scandal - and said of the Bettencourt scandal, "While it is unclear just what the Speaker knew about this fiasco and when, he might do his party and the House a favor by reflecting on his own future as a leader."
In response to questions, O'Brien sent around an email to Republican representatives calling on them to close ranks and stonewall questions.
Democratic Rep. Steve Shurtleff of Concord said, "In his pursuit of his extreme, far-right agenda, Bill O'Brien has created a culture of corruption in the New Hampshire. O'Brien, Bettencourt and their team have stomped on anything that gets in their way, including House rules, the New Hampshire Constitution, and the people of New Hampshire. It's time Bill O'Brien face the music and tell the people of New Hampshire the full story behind both these scandals."