Fellow Republicans describe failed slander campaign as "gone too far," "appalling," "chilling," "regrettable," "laughable," "a disservice," & "not right"
Concord - In case you missed it yesterday, Republican leaders from the state senate to Republican National Committee lined up to condemn an attempted smear campaign started by the New Hampshire Republican Party last week. As a former Attorney General, how long will it take Senator Kelly Ayotte to join her fellow Republicans' condemnation?
Read the full story from Patch.com below.
Salem Patch: Parody Tweets Target Hassan Legal Counsel
With rumors swirling as to whom Gov. Maggie Hassan will name as New Hampshire's next attorney general to replace Michael Delaney, one possible candidate is being attacked for a past link to casino lobbying.
Lucy C. Hodder, who was announced as Hassan's legal counsel in December, is listed on the Secretary of State's website as having lobbied for William Wortman, CEO of Millennium Gaming, as recently as January 2012. Millennium Gaming holds the option to purchase Rockingham Park in Salem should expanded gambling be legalized in the state and that location is granted a casino bid.
Hodder was also registered to represent the N.H. Oncology-Hematology PA, N.H. Independent Schools, N.H. Orthopeadic Center, and the Bedford Ambulatory Surgical Center, according to the 2012 lobbyist file.
This week, a fake Twitter account popped up using Hodder's photo and referring to her as an "uber lobbyist" and "casino enthusiast." The unknown owner of the Twitter handle, @LobbyistLucy, has taken to following 500 prominent New Hampshire politicians, activists and media outlets. The account began posting Wednesday afternoon.
Almost every post on the parody account pokes fun at Hodder's casino connections, with one Tweet saying "the fix is in" for the attorney general position.
Some other tweets are listed below.
Off to measure curtains at DOJ. Hope I dont run into that pathetic, soon-to-be unemployed casino obstructionist Delaney nhpolitics
Looking for a sweet vacation spot to spend my big fat Millenium Gaming bonus that will be triggered by my AG appointment $$$$$$ #nhpolitics
Speaking on behalf of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, Communications Director Harrell Kirstein slammed the parody account.
"Just like the other clueless and baseless attacks from Kelly Ayotte's NHGOP, their effort to slander a well-respected and dedicated New Hampshire public servant blew up in their faces last week," said Kirstein. "It is certainly puzzling that they have not condemned this latest pathetic effort, unless they are actually the ones pulling the strings."
NHGOP Chairwoman Jennifer Horn responded last week to a March 22 report by the N.H. Journal that Hodder was being considered as the new Attorney General.
"Under no circumstances should Governor Hassan even consider appointing a well-heeled casino lobbyist to be our next Attorney General," said Horn in a statement. "New Hampshire doesn't want a top law enforcement official who is in the pocket of the gambling lobby and working with the special interests groups that are promoting Governor Hassan's illegal revenue scheme."
But former state Rep. Fran Wendelboe (R-New Hampton) called the situation Hodder is facing "appalling," blaming a special interest of the anti-gambling lobby that is driving the criticisms.
"The woman hasn't even officially been nominated and they are dragging her name through the mud, claiming to have teams assigning dossiers on her background, talking about her being corrupted, that she'll be in the pocket of corporate gambling interests" said Wendelboe, the NHGOP's assistant secretary. "It sends a chilling message as a precedent to any potential attorney who would be nominated in the future."
Mike Biundo, who served as both national campaign manager for U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and later national deputy coalition director for Mitt Romney's general election campaign, is listed as the first person to follow the parody Twitter account.
Derek Dufresne is listed as the second follower. Dufresne worked as deputy campaign manager and spokesman for Republican Congressman Frank Guinta's re-election campaign in 2012 and is also one of Biundo's partners at the Manchester-based firm RightOn Strategies.
Biundo denied being involved in setting up the account.
"There is absolutely no connection (to me and the Twitter account)," said Biundo. "I followed it because it exactly mentioned me in a comment."
Biundo added that he wasn't aware that Dufresne was following the account, and that they both have a Twitter editor program that automatically follows an account when they themselves are followed.
Tom Rath, Hodder's former employer at Rath, Young and Pignatelli, PC, a law firm based in Concord, said he has never worked with a better lawyer or more honorable person than Hodder.
"Any attempt to besmirch the reputation of a person of her caliber, her integrity, her decency I find more than regrettable," said Rath. "This is a very, very good person."
Steven Yianakopolos, a GOP member and former N.H. state political director for both the presidential campaign of U.S. Rep. Jack Kemp and campaign director for former U.S. Rep. Chuck Douglas (NH-2), was even more candid about Republican attacks directed at Hodder.
Yianakopolos used the word "laughable" in reference to criticisms of Hodder as a gambling lobbyist.
"Lucy (Hodder) is a 20-year health care and regulatory attorney (and) most people know her as a person of unimpeachable character and judgement," he said.
State Sen. Chuck Morse (R-Salem), said the political rhetoric related to the Senate's expanded gambling bill has "gone too far."
"I don't think this is a right way to do things," said Morse. "(Lucy Hodder) is a good person.
Morse said that those who are trying to connect gambling with Hodder are doing a disservice to the state and to both parties.
Marc Goldberg, communications director for Hassan, issued a statement commenting on Hodder:
The Governor is considering a number of highly qualified candidates to lead the Department of Justice and will be making an appointment when a decision has been made. Governor Hassan strongly believes that Lucy Hodder is an exceptional attorney and public servant who has been a dedicated advocate for the people of New Hampshire, and the Governor considers her advice as legal counsel invaluable.
According to a December release from Hassan's office, Hodder is a renowned New Hampshire health care, regulatory and employment attorney who was named Lawyer of the Year - 2013 for Health Care by her peers. She received her bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1986, her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1990 and has served as an adjunct professor at the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce Law Center. She also served as New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General from 1993 to 1997.
Political observers may lump Hodder to a short list of potential lawyers for attorney general based on recent history. Delaney, before he was attorney general, served as legal counsel for former Gov. John Lynch. U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte was legal counsel to former Gov. Craig Benson before becoming attorney general.
Millennium Gaming Spokesperson Rich Killion and Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling Chairman Jim Rubens declined comment for this report.