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Apr 7, 2016 5:28 PM

Steinhauser: O'Connor says he's got proof to back up allegations against Shea-Porter; her campaign calls charges a 'desperate attack'

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – Shawn O’Connor is calling on former U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter to “step out of this race.”

The Bedford businessman, who’s running against Shea-Porter in the hunt for the Democratic nomination in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, claimed in an interview with NH1 News that the former congresswoman “and her campaign, Team Shea-Porter, have been spreading this vicious shameful and absolutely inexcusable lie that I am a perpetrator of domestic violence.”

O’Connor charged that Shea-Porter launched a “verbal campaign of assault” and “Nixon like tactics against me.”

A spokeswoman for Shea-Porter strongly pushed back against O’Connor, describing the charges as an “untruthful” and a “desperate attack.”

O’Connor sat down with NH1 News on Thursday, one day after his campaign wrote in an email to supporters that “the Shea-Porter campaign has spread this lie so extensively that ‘Shawn O’Connor domestic violence’ is the third search suggestion that comes up on Google. Ms. Shea-Porter and her campaign have known since, at least mid-2015, that Mr. O’Connor is, actually, a survivor of domestic violence (this is also supported by extensive medical/legal records).”

Describing his own incident of domestic violence, O’Connor told NH1 News that “it’s a very trying and personal and difficult situation to face. It happened to me a couple of years ago and I was carried out of my house in an ambulance and taken to Catholic Medical Center, where I was in the emergency room for seven hours.”

“We have an affidavit from the perpetrator who says that I never abused him in any way, not only physically but emotionally or in any other way,” O’Connor continued.

O’Connor charged that “Carol Shea-Porter has known that I’m a survivor of domestic violence for a long time,” but added “at the same time she and her campaign, Team Shea-Porter,” spread the rumor.

O’Connor said he went public with his allegations “after a month of trying to negotiate with the Shea-Porter campaign about this.”

As for proof, O’Connor said that “state Sen. David Pierce, arguable the most progressive member of the caucus, LGBT himself, someone who’s integrity is respected by members on both sides aisle, came forward and said that he had numerous conversations with Team Shea Porter members.”

Pierce, who is backing O’Connor’s congressional bid, told NH1 News on Thursday that the person he spoke with “was upset that I endorsed Mr. O’Connor.”

“This person and I were friends so it wasn’t anything coercive. But said that he had some information that I should know, and told me that he (O’Connor) was involved in a domestic violence incident and believed that he (O’Connor) was the perpetrator of it.”

But the Democratic state senator from Lebanon didn’t identify the person he spoke with and said he wasn’t sure if that person was on Shea-Porter’s payroll.

“This person to the best of my knowledge has always been involved in her campaigns. I don’t know if he’s ever been a paid staff member of her campaigns,” Pierce said.

NH1 News invited Shea-Porter or a representative from her campaign to respond on camera to O’Connor’s allegations. They declined, but Wednesday In a statement provided to NH1 News, Shea-Porter campaign manager Naomi Andrews responded, saying “this is just a sad, untruthful, and desperate attack. Nothing more needs to be said.”

Asked by NH1 News how he would respond to the Shea-Porter campaign’s statement, O’Connor said “It’s hard to even comment on their response to them calling my calling them out a desperate attack. All I’m trying to do here is bring the truth to light. One wonders why they would engage in settlement negotiations for a month if they didn’t have anything, any responsibly, any liability. I certainly wouldn’t’ do that.”

O’Connor then vowed that “there is no way that Rep. Shea-Porter is returning to Washington. It is simply not possible. And she needs to realize that and for the sake of the party, for the sake of the country, for the sake of her own conscience she needs recognize her wrong doing, apologize for it, and step aside.”

Thursday morning, a source close to the O’Connor campaign told NH1 News that the campaign would publicly demand that all organizations that supported Shea-Porter rescind those endorsements and refund any campaign contributions. Among the organizations that have backed Shea-Porter are EMILY’s List, the Teamsters union, and Democracy for America

One of O’Connor’s allegations is that the Shea-Porter campaign reached out to Julia Barnes, the New Hampshire state director for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, in hopes of preventing O’Connor from introducing Sanders at a campaign rally in early January in Newmarket.

O’Connor did attend that event, speaking at the rally, as he became the only Democratic statewide or federal official or candidate in the state to endorse the senator from Vermont, who ended up crushing Hillary Clinton in the February 9 primary.

NH1 News reached out twice to Barnes, but she did not respond. But in a Facebook post from Wednesday evening she was very supportive of Shea-Porter.

“So there is no confusion for my NH friends – I am proud to have worked for Carol Shea-Porter on the coordinated campaign in 2010. Proud to have voted for her and proud to be able to vote for her again when I return home to Manchester,” Barnes wrote.

“She is a strong voice for NH residents and I am looking forward to helping return her to office with my vote in 2016,” she continued.

But the Facebook post doesn’t address O’Connor’s claims that Shea-Porter representatives reached out to Barnes to try and to prevent O’Connor from speaking at the Sanders rally.

Shea-Porter first won election to Congress in 2006, winning re-election in 2008 before losing to Republican Frank Guinta in 2010. She defeated Guinta in the 2012 rematch but narrowly lost to him again in the 2014 midterm election. Shea-Porter announced last September that she would run again in 2016 to win back the seat in the state’s 1st Congressional District.

O’Connor’s a test-prep entrepreneur who moved from New York City to Bedford nearly five years ago. Last summer he launched his bid for Congress.

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