Concord – For the second time in less than a decade, Senate Republican leadership has been rocked by a major ethical scandal, and for the second time Jay Flanders was advising the embattled Senate President. Last week, Peter Bragdon was forced to resign from the Senate Presidency after intense bipartisan condemnation of the inherent conflicts of interest in his taking a $180,000 payout from the taxpayer funded LGC. In 2005, Senate President Tom Eaton was forced to resign after Senators from both parties threatened to remove him. At the time, fellow Republican Senator Bob Clegg “thought Eaton could have survived if he had made concessions to critics,” including firing Jay Flanders. [Hippo, 9/22/2005]
“Two Republican Senate Presidents were forced out due to scandal and at the center of both scandals was Jay Flanders. It’s time for Senate Republicans to clean house and get their act together,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Communications Director Harrell Kirstein. “It is impossible for the next Senate President to keep Flanders on as Chief of Staff given his long history of questionable ethical decisions, and his intimate involvement in Bragdon’s growing scandal while still maintaining New Hampshire's long standing tradition of integrity."
Emails obtained from the Local Government Center through a Right-to-Know request, revealed that Senate President Bragdon consulted with Flanders while seeking the LGC’s executive director position. On July 16th Bragdon wrote, “I spoke with Jay Flanders specifically about LGC and me, rather than just the hypothetical. Jay’s opinion matched mine, that the issues of lawsuits and advocacy do not have much traction…” The Nashua Telegraph reported Flanders was one of the first people Bragdon spoke to, “as he considered becoming the $180,000-a-year CEO of the quasi-public Local Government Center.” [Nashua Telegraph, 8/23/2013]
“It is clear that Jay Flanders was intimately involved in Bragdon-Gate from the very beginning. Impossibly, Flanders saw no problem with his boss, Senate President Bragdon, lining his pockets with $180,000 of taxpayer money from the LGC,” continued Kirstein. “Bragdon’s dual roles as Senate President and LGC director were loaded with unethical conflicts of interest that caused even members of Bragdon’s own party to cringe and call for his resignation.”
Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Clegg said Bragdon should resign the seat, while former Senator Ray White said in response, “My head exploded.” Even Manchester Mayor and former Senate President Ted Gatsas told Bragdon he must choose between the LGC and the Senate Presidency.
“If Flanders remains, how can New Hampshire citizens trust the next Senate President when his closest adviser is the same individual involved in the resignations of two other Senate Presidents?” asked Kirstein.