As much as I fail to like (I decided to be kind and use understatement) former Speaker Bill O'Brien (aka The Bully Without A Pulpit) and as much as I continue to believe he did more to destroy the Republican party in New Hampshire than any other single human being during the last election, I find the judge's ruling rather puzzling in the O'Brien law suit versus New Hampshire Democrats and Chair Raymond Charles Buckley.
Recall that when O'Brien ran election a few years back, Democrats failed to fill the ticket, so in an attempt to get enough write-ins to be on both sides of the ballot, he did a mailing to Democrats, a time-honored tradition which has often worked throughout recent and past history.
Appalled at the very notion, Buckley sent out a last minute robot-call to 394 Republican homes claiming, tongue-in-cheek to be sure, that O'Brien was embracing the Democratic Party principles and platform.
There was plenty of disingenuousness on both sides here. Buckley certainly knew that O'Brien had not embraced Democratic principles, that he was merely using this ploy to get on both sides of the ballot (something Buckley himself did back in 1994 in Ward 8 Manchester) and virtually guarantee getting elected.
O'Brien was disingenuous when he claimed he had filed on the Democratic side in the spirit of bipartisanship. To quote Joe Biden, that's a bunch of malarkey.
He did it to win...plain and simple.
The legal point of the story is that Buckley and Company apparently failed to add the proper disclaimer to the robo-calls leading to law suits.
Buckley and Democrats, according to John Distaso's 30 inch story beneath a banner headline in today's Union Leader, signed a consent agreement and paid a $5000 fine after the Attorney General had investigated the sordid affair.
That of course was not enough. O'Brien filed suit in civil court for treble damages which could amount to $1.8 million. The suit, most likely--and I admit I'm no lawyer--probably never would have been successful, but I just don't understand the court's dismissal.
Judge Garfunkel apparently read the law to mean the O'Brien lacked standing because he had not personally received on of the 394 laws. That may be what the law says, but it certainly was not the intent of those drafting the law--both Republicans and Democrats should agree on this point--to prevent someone harmed by a robo-call to filing suit.
The best line of the week (and once I suspect we are likely to see in Sunday columns) is from Democratic National Committeewoman Kathy Sullivan, who in response to hearing the O'Brien was going to appeal the case and serve as his own lawyer, stated that seems like a classic case of the adage a lawyer who defends himself has a fool for a client.
I should have thought of that.
Hmmm...could Ms. Sullivan be sued for defamation by hinting that O'Brien is a fool? From personal knowledge, I can say that Judge Garfunkel is in fact hearing a case which makes about as much sense as that one (mark your calendars, May 10 y'all).