Jul 14, 2015 6:41 PM
Landrigan: NH Senate lawyer rejects bid to disclose individual emails, calls, calendars of GOP senators
CONCORD - The State Senate’s lawyer ruled the New Hampshire Democratic Party has no legal access to emails, telephone calls or calendars of GOP senators to see whether Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, meddled in their feud with Gov. Maggie Hassan over the state budget.
Richard Lehmann cited a 2011 opinion of former Attorney General Michael Delaney who said state law defines open records as those on behalf of any body, a majority or pubic agency in its official function.
"Accordingly, the attorney general determined that individual emails are not subject to inspection under the Right to Know law,’’ Lehmann said. "The Senate and House have followed this advice and declined to produce emails requested by both of the majority political parties.’’
A Democratic Party spokesman said legislative leaders should give up the records in the interest of transparency.
"Regardless of who runs against Kelly Ayotte, it’s wrong that Ayotte's allies clearly have been pushing the state legislature to politicize the budget process in a desperate attempt to rescue her vulnerable re-election prospects,’’ Press Secretary Aaron Jacobs said.
"Legislative leadership should release this information immediately.’’
State GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Horn said the entire request is a political stunt and that Gov. Maggie Hassan’s office has refused a similar ask for information.
“Governor Hassan refused to turn over any documents or deny reports about her conversations with disgraced former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about her plans to run for United States Senate,’’ Horn said in a statement.
"Now she is pushing laughable conspiracy theories that have been discredited by Democrat State Senator Lou D’Allesandro to distract from her failed fiscal leadership and politically-motivated veto of the state budget.’’
The Senate’s lawyer noted then-Senate President Peter Bragdon cited the same AG opinion in rejecting a GOP bid for emails of ex-Senate President Sylvia Larsen, a Concord Democrat.
This was believed to be the first request made for telephone call records of individual senators, Lehmann added.
"The position taken by the Senate and House in this letter has been uniform and consistent in response to requests from both major political parties and the press,’’ Lehmann added.
GOP leaders have ridiculed the claim of Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley that Ayotte played a part in the confrontation between Democrat Hassan and GOP legislative leaders over the Republican-led budget Hassan vetoed last month.
Lawmakers passed and Hassan signed a continuing resolution for up to six months to keep state government operating at current spending levels.