The Executive Council unanimously confirmed Gordon MacDonald as New Hampshire’s new attorney general Wednesday.
MacDonald succeeds Joseph Foster, who stepped down March 31 after leading the state’s justice department for four years.
The two Democrats and three Republicans who make up the five-member council each praised MacDonald before voting Wednesday morning to approve his nomination. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu nominated MacDonald for the position late last month.
Councilor Andru Volinsky, a Concord Democrat, said MacDonald is a well-liked and well-respected member of the legal community.
Other councilors, including Joseph Kenney, a Union Republican, said they were impressed by the bipartisan support for MacDonald and that they believe he will lead the state’s justice department with great integrity.
“We have a rock star and I think he’s going to do well for the citizens of New Hampshire,” Kenney said.
MacDonald is a partner at Manchester-based firm Nixon Peabody, where he is a member of the commercial litigation group and has represented clients opposing the state in the past. In 2014, he helped New Hampshire hospitals negotiate a settlement agreement with the state over Medicaid reimbursements.
He also represented Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the painkiller OxyContin, in a legal battle against the office he’s preparing to lead. The attorney general’s office opened an investigation in 2015 into Purdue and other drugmakers suspected of deceptively marketing opioids. Over-prescribing of painkillers is seen as a key cause of New Hampshire’s present heroin and fentanyl crisis. MacDonald was listed as one of Purdue’s attorneys in court filings as recently as September.
However, MacDonald said previously that if confirmed, he would recuse himself from the Purdue investigation or any other potential conflicts of interest.
Councilor Chris Pappas, a Manchester Democrat, told fellow councilors Wednesday that he recently spoke with MacDonald about the matter, and MacDonald reassured him that there would be no issue.
(Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 369-3319, email@example.com or on Twitter @_ADandrea.)