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Entries in NH Sen Bragdon (25)

Thursday
Feb132014

NHDP - Legislative ethics panel rejects Bragdon's claim of 'overbroad' restrictions

Key Point: "[Ethics committee chairman] Gross wrote that the conditions were purposely broadly worded 'to assure that as long as Sen. Bragdon remains in the Senate, his position cannot in any way be used to benefit his employer.'... Gross wrote that Bragdon must accept or reject the committee’s restrictions by 12 noon on Friday."


Union Leader: Legislative ethics panel rejects Bragdon's claim of 'overbroad' restrictions
http://www.unionleader.com/article/20140211/NEWS06/140219933
John DiStaso

CONCORD — The Legislative Ethics Committee has rejected state Sen. Peter Bragdon’s assertion that the panel imposed “overbroad and unnecessary” restrictions on him to avoid potential conflict between his role as an elected official and his job as executive director of the HealthTrust public employees benefits pool.
 
“The conditions were not offered as a starting point for further negotiations,” ethics committee chairman Martin L. Gross wrote to Bragdon’s attorney, Russell Hilliard, in a letter on Monday that was obtained by the New Hampshire Union Leader on Tuesday, “but rather to afford Senator Bragdon the opportunity to avoid a formal proceeding to consider the two allegations that the Committee’s Preliminary Investigation indicated would be supported by clear and convincing evidence.”
 
Bragdon’s reaction to the sharply-worded letter was, “No comment at this time. I will be discussing this matter with attorney Hilliard and trying to figure out why I am being treated differently than other legislators who are employed.”
 
The committee, after clearing Bragdon of any intentional behavior that violated legislative ethics guidelines, told Bragdon that he must agree to “not take part in any official activity that concerns, involves or would have any effect on your employer.”
 
Bragdon, a Milford Republican, accepted the $180,000-a-year post last summer and then stepped down as state Senate President, but stayed on as a rank-and-file senator.
 
The committee also told Bragdon that he should not participate in any HealthTrust consideration or decision-making process” on any matter that involves legislative consideration, and he should not participate in any HealthTrust “consideration, decision-making or communications with the state’s regulatory officials who deal with the risk pool.”
 
Hilliard wrote to the panel last week that the conditions are “overbroad and unnecessary” and asked for clarifications. He wrote, for instance, that some legislation “applies generally to employers and nonprofits such as HealthTrust and not in any particular fashion to HealthTrust.”
 
But Gross wrote back on Monday, “If Senator Bragdon believes the conditions are unacceptable, and if chooses to remain a member of the Senate, the Committee will go forward by issuing written formal charges and scheduling a hearing to determine the merits of the allegations.”
 
Gross wrote that the conditions were purposely broadly worded “to assure that as long as Sen. Bragdon remains in the Senate, his position cannot in any way be used to benefit his employer.”
 
He wrote that the restrictions “are intended to isolate Senator Bragdon from his employer’s relations with the state.”
 
Gross noted that Bragdon recently filed an “incomplete” declaration under the ethics guidelines, “in which he identified the Medicaid bills as involving a conflict with his employment, but then participated in voting on them. He did this notwithstanding previous assurance to the Committee that he would not participate in any matter involving his employer.”
 
Gross wrote that Bragdon is allowed to perform “purely ministerial activities” in assisting HealthTrust to comply with proposed legislation or regulations, but may not become involved in meaningful, “prudential decisions concerning its relations with the state.”
 
Gross wrote that Bragdon must accept or reject the committee’s restrictions by 12 noon on Friday.

Tuesday
Oct292013

NHDP Statement on Ethics Committee Investigation Of Senator Bragdon, Senator Forrester

Concord, NH – New Hampshire Democratic Party Communications Director Harrell Kirstein, released the following statement on the non-partisan Legislative Ethics Committee decision to investigate Republican state Senator Peter Bragdon hiring by the Local Government center and his appointment of Senator Forrester to a study committee with oversight powers concerning the LGC.

 
“The facts are clear; Senator Bragdon was in the midst of interviewing for a taxpayer funded, $180,000 a year job with the LGC, when he appointed Senator Jeanie Forrester to a regulatory study committee with jurisdiction over the LGC - an inherent conflict of interest and misuse of power.  When questioned about the timeline of Forrester’s appointment and Bragdon’s hiring – they lied about their conversations and tried to mislead New Hampshire citizens and taxpayers.  And after their dishonest statements were exposed by a right to know request, they refused to give a full accounting of their actions.  Hopefully, Bragdon and Forrester will be far more cooperative with the Ethics Committee investigation than they have been with the voters of New Hampshire.  These shady secretive backroom deals are not what New Hampshire voters expect from their representatives – Bragdon and Forrester owe their constituents an apology for the unmistakable appearance of impropriety.”

Saturday
Aug242013

NHDP - Senate Chief of Staff Jay Flanders Once Again at Center of Senate GOP Scandal 

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.

Friday
Aug232013

NHDP - Forrester Owes People of NH an Explanation for Involvement in BragdonGate

Concord – Files obtained from the Local Government Center through a New Hampshire Democratic Party Right-to-Know request reveal Senator Jeanie Forrester was intimately involved in Senate President Bragdon’s growing LGC scandal.  Bragdon was forced to announce plans to resign the Senate Presidency last week after accepting the top job with the LGC due to inherent conflicts of interest.  Earlier this week, Bragdon admitted that he was in midst of interviewing for the LGC job, when he appointed Jeanie Forrester to an LGC regulatory study committee – a clear breach of the New Hampshire General Court’sEthics Guidelines. 
 
"Now that Jeanie Forrester is neck deep in Peter Bragdon's scandal, how many more Republicans will be dragged in before we get to the bottom of this scheme?”  asked New Hampshire Democratic Party Communications Director Harrell Kirstein.  “No wonder she was silent about the massive and inherent conflicts of interest in Bragdon's new LGC job.  She knew about it nearly a month in advance and said nothing."   
 
Emails released by the LGC reveal that not only did Bragdon speak to Forrester while he was applying for the LGC job and days before he would appoint her to the regulatory study committee, but she actually thought the Senate President taking a job as the head of the LGC was a 'positive' idea.  On July 16th, Bragdon emailed the LGC writing, “I happened to be on the phone with Sen. Forrester a few minutes ago, and given her background … I thought I’d mention the conversation you and I had.  Her reaction could not have been more positive to the idea.”
 
But just a few days ago when asked about Bragdon taking the LGC job she claimed to not have been “aware that Bragdon had taken an interest in the job with the LGC when he appointed her to the study committee.”  [Laconia Daily Sun, 8/20/2013]  Forrester wasn’t appointed to the LGC regulatory study committee until July 19th, three days after her conversation with Bragdon.
 
"Forrester and Bragdon owe the people of New Hampshire a full explanation – and this time an honest one - of all their recent conversations about the LGC,” continued Kirstein.  “What did Forrester and Bragdon discuss on July 16th?  Did she promise to use her relationships with LGC to help him secure the $180,000 a year job in exchange for appointment on the committee?  The more we learn about Bragdon, Forrester and the LGC the more concerns are raised and the more serious those concerns become.”

Thursday
Aug222013

NHDP - Report: Bragdon Appointed Forrester to LGC Committee While Under Consideration for 180K LGC Job

What did Bragdon and Forrester Discuss Before and After her Ethically Questionable Appointment to the LGC Committee?
 
Concord – The long list of serious ethical questions surrounding disgraced former Senate President Peter Bragdon and his entire Republican caucus continue to grow.  This morning the Nashua Telegraph reported, “Bragdon’s official letter to [Senator Jeanie] Forrester naming her to the [LGC] panel came July 19, eight days after Bragdon has confirmed he first thought about pursuing the LGC job.”  [Nashua Telegraph, 8/21/2013] Bragdon’s admission that he had already begun talking to the LGC about a $180,000 contract when he took the official action of legally appointing Senator Jeanie Forrester to the LGC committee raises significant concerns about a breach of the state's ethics handbook.
 
“The more we learn about Bragdon and the LGC the more concerns are raised and the more serious those concerns become. Bragdon’s official act appointing Forrester to the LGC committee occurred a more than full week after he began talking to the LGC about a job paying $180,000 per year,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Communications Director Harrell Kirstein. “That is a terrible abuse of power and both Bragdon and Forrester owe the public a full and honest account of any discussions they have had about the LGC both before and after her appointment.  What did Bragdon know of Forrester’s opinions about the LGC when he appointed her to a committee study regulations impacting his new employer?”
 
The New Hampshire General Court Ethics Booklet lists prohibited activities for  legislators, including but not limited to:
  • “Legislators shall not use their public position or office to obtain anything of  value for the private benefit of the legislator or the legislator’s immediate family.”
  • “Legislators shall not become involved in any official activity without complying with the conflict of interest procedure set forth in this document.”
“Bragdon’s official and legal appointment of Forrester is a clear conflict of interest.  He used his position as Senate President to influence a decision that would directly benefit the LGC, while being considered for a $180,000 contract with the LGC,” said Kirstein.  “As soon as Bragdon began negotiations with the LGC about the Executive Director position he should have revealed that to the public.  He had a clear financial interest that was not disclosed, and did not recuse himself from decisions potentially impacting that interest.”

Bragdon’s only excuse is a completely unverifiable claim that in his mind he had previously decided who to appoint – but at that point the bill creating it hadn’t yet become law and the committee didn't exist.  Not only does that claim contradict emails he sent other legislators, and the official letter appointing Forrester, but it is also inconsistent with his story last week.  Previously Bragdon claimed that he had “appointed” Forrester “to that panel before he began talking to the LGC.” [Concord Monitor, 8/13/2013]
 

“With being caught red-handed, Bragdon is desperately trying to rewrite history and cover up his ethically questionable decisions.  But as his story changes day to day and week to week, how can Bragdon expect us to believe this version?   Which story is true?  Are any of them?” asked Kirstein. “If I think about paying my credit card bill on July 8th but I don’t actually sign and mail the check until July 19th, what day did I actually commit the act? The fact is Bragdon’s official action appointing Forrester to the LGC Committee occurred well after he began discussions with the LGC about taking their Executive Director job. It was a reckless and irresponsible violation of the public trust.”