Mike Delaney to end tenure as N.H. attorney general
Attorney General Michael Delaney meets with the Monitor; Wednesday, April 7, 2010. (Concord Monitor Photo/Alexander Cohn)
Mike Delaney, who has been the state’s attorney general since 2009, will leave the post and return to private practice after his term ends March 31.
“I have cherished my time serving in leadership of New Hampshire’s law enforcement community,” Delaney wrote yesterday in a letter to Gov. Maggie Hassan. “I will forever be grateful to our public safety officials for their sacrifice, dedication and loyalty. I will never forget the experiences we have had together.”
Hassan, a Democrat who took office in January, plans to name a new attorney general soon.
“The governor will be working to identify highly qualified candidates for this critical position as quickly as possible,” spokesman Marc Goldberg said in a statement.
Delaney wrote in his letter that, at Hassan’s request, he “will remain in office as attorney general during an appropriate transition period.”
Hassan’s nominee for the job must be confirmed by the five-member Executive Council.
Delaney, 43 and a Manchester resident, has worked as a lawyer for the state for the last 14 years. He was at the attorney general’s office from 1999 to 2006, including a stint as the head of the homicide unit, before becoming then-Gov. John Lynch’s counsel.
Lynch, a Democrat, nominated Delaney for the top job at the state Department of Justice in mid-2009, after Kelly Ayotte resigned as attorney general. Ayotte, a Republican, won a seat in the U.S. Senate the next year.
He was unanimously confirmed by the Executive Council and took office in August 2009.
It’s been a busy 3½ years for Delaney. Meredith-based Financial Resources Mortgage, a multimillion-dollar scam, collapsed just months after he took office, and subsequent reviews faulted several state agencies, including the attorney general’s office, for failing to stop the scheme.
Delaney saw the opening of a Cold Case Unit in his office in late 2009 and, in 2010, helped scuttle a proposed “affiliation” between two major hospitals, Lebanon-based Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Manchester-based Catholic Medical Center.
Over the last two years, he clashed repeatedly with House Republican leaders. In 2011, the then-GOP-controlled House voted to force Delaney to join a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s 2010 health care reform law; Delaney said the bill violated the separation of powers, a position backed by six former attorneys general including both Republicans and Democrats.
(The bill died in the Senate, and Democrats won back control of the House last year.)
So far this year, Delaney has formed a Commission to Combat Human Trafficking and signed on to two multi-state amicus briefs encouraging the U.S. Supreme Court to support same-sex marriage rights.
His office has also opposed a Senate bill that would allow a single casino in the state – legislation supported by Hassan, who is counting on $80 million from a license for that casino to help balance the next state budget. Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice testified against the bill at a committee hearing last month.
Jennifer Horn, chairwoman of the state Republican Party, issued a news release yesterday suggesting Delaney’s departure was connected to the casino bill, and accused Hassan of “shallow and vindictive political retribution.”
But Delaney said he wasn’t pushed out.
“No, this was my decision,” he said, calling it “the right decision for me and my family at this time.
Goldberg, Hassan’s spokesman, said the governor “would have been happy if he could have stayed on” as attorney general.
“Through nearly a decade and a half of public service, Mike Delaney has continuously protected and advanced the cause of justice for the people of New Hampshire. He has taken on difficult challenges with integrity, strength and resolve. I have greatly appreciated his counsel,” Hassan said in a statement. “While I understand his desire to pursue new opportunities, his steady leadership of our justice system will be missed, and I wish Mike the very best.”
Delaney said he won’t announce his next job until he leaves his current one.
(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or
firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)