Dec 10, 2014 4:55 PM

Kevin Landrigan: New NH House Speaker Shawn Jasper picks new legal counsel


New House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, scored a political coups Wednesday, convincing a prominent conservative and former Supreme Court justice to become the House's legal counsel.

Chuck Douglas of Bow also represented the Second Congressional District in the US House for two years. He's widely seen as among the smartest legal minds in the state and a seasoned political strategist in the right wing.

An ideological conservative, Douglas has curried legal friends and associations that span across the political spectrum.

"Chuck has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to dealing with all three of the branches of state government," Jasper said in a statement.

"I am confident that he will be ready and able to deal with any legal issues or challenges that come before us."

Four decades ago, Douglas burst onto the political scene initially as the lawyer to ex-Gov. Meldrim Thomson, one of the state's most conservative chief executives in history.

Later Thomson named him to the state's highest court and at 34 Douglas was the youngest justice in history. Douglas remained on the court for eight years before returning to private practice.

Douglas won the seat to Congress in 1988 replacing Judd Gregg who eft the seat to run for and become governor of the state.

Two years later, Douglas lost a re-election bid to Democrat Dick Swett.

Jasper's move comes just as dissident Republicans have been trying to elect their own leader in protest that the new House speaker only seized the gavel by getting votes from House Democrats.

Former House Speaker Bill O'Brien had won the Republican nomination for the top House job again but last week Jasper stunned him by taking an upset victory on the third ballot.

A source close to Jasper said the House leader has a two decade history of social and fiscal conservative but naming Douglas provides even more political cover.

"The joke bet around here is who is going to be the first one to call Chuck Douglas a RINO (Republican in Name Only),'' said the Jasper backer asking not to be identified.

Later on Thursday, Jasper plans to announce his extended leadership team which would include the chairs and vice chairs of more than 20 public policy issue committees.

NH1 has confirmed that Jasper's appointments will include a number of conservatives who backed O'Brien's bid for speaker and had opposed Jasper's late entry into the race.


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