Concord – Mired in a major ethical scandal, Senate President Peter Bragdon’s story is shifting day-to-day and newspaper-to-newspaper. The Union Leader reported this morning that, despite Bragdon’s false claims to the contrary, the LGC continues to directly employ lobbyists. [Union Leader, 8/15/2013] Additionally the Portsmouth Herald revealed that Bragdon didn’t actually receive a legal opinion about the looming conflicts of interest as Senate President prior to accepting the job with the LGC – as he had originally claimed. [Portsmouth Herald, 8/15/2013]
“Senate President Peter Bragdon has not been honest with the public about his new ethically questionable job. Even worse, it appears that he has been misleading the people of New Hampshire about potential conflicts of interest and legal opinions he claimed to have received prior to accepting the LGC position,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Communication Director Harrell Kirstein. “He owes the state and his constituents an apology for his false and misleading claims, and a full explanation of how as Senate President he sees no conflict in directing a team of registered lobbyists while being barred from being one himself by state law.”
Bragdon had claimed falsely and repeatedly said that in his new role with the LGC he would not have lobbyists reporting directly to him. He even lashed out against honest critics of his scheme saying, “I think they embarrass themselves when then make statement like that, when they don’t know what they are talking about.” [WMUR, 8/15/2013] But as the Union Leader revealed, Bragdon was the one who didn’t know what he was talking about, reporting that Bragdon was "surprised" by the revelation.
The Secretary of State’s office lists several lobbyists affiliated with "NH Local Government Center." In addition, “One lobbyist, Timothy Fortier, specifically states in his filing that he lobbies for the LGC insurance operations, HealthTrust and Property-Liability Trust, which Bragdon will oversee” reported the Union Leader. [Union Leader, 8/15/2013]
Additionally, while Bragdon claimed he consulted with Senate Attorney Rick Lehmann, but when confronted, Lehmann refused to confirm Bragdon’s story. The Senate President was then forced to admit that he actually “didn’t name the LGC” in his conversation with Lehmann. [Portsmouth Herald, 8/15/2013]
“The person who should be embarrassed here is Bragdon,” continued Kirstein. “Rather than be honest with the people of New Hampshire about his shady new job and the mounting ethical questions surrounding it, he attacked individuals raising legitimate questions and mislead the public about his conversations with the Senate legal counsel.”
“He owes the public and the press a new, and this time, honest account of his role at the LGC, how and when he was hired, when he the hiring process began, and a full explanation of all the inherent conflicts of interest it brings,” added Kirstein.