My Turn: Ethics law is plain: Bragdon is in the clear
I am writing in defense of state Sen. Peter Bragdon and about the recent ethics investigation that has commenced regarding him.
I know it may seem curious to readers to see this column coming from me, given that I was a vehement opponent of his, legislatively speaking, regarding the Local Government Center and its risk pools, as well as a vocal critic when he took the position of executive director while still holding the office of Senate president. But the fact of the matter is, Bragdon saw the errors of his ways very quickly and did the right thing, leaving the office of Senate president. Under any plain reading of New Hampshire ethics laws, he is now in the clear.
New Hampshire’s laws call for disclosure of any potential conflicts, and there is now no one in New Hampshire who does not know the position he holds at the LGC. Furthermore, not only is Bragdon no longer Senate president, but he does not at this time even chair a committee in the Senate. Any notion that the LGC has bought itself some sort of super-lobbyist influence at this point is no longer plausible, even if that was its original intent.
Bragdon’s initial misstep in handling the LGC hiring should not diminish his body of legislative work. His history shows he is honest, tireless and, most notably, something that is in very short supply up in Concord: humble. When I served with him last term, the people of New Hampshire benefited from constant 80-plus hour work weeks from him as Senate president. He read every word of every bill, and it showed. All for $125 per year.
Like all legislators, Bragdon has a right to outside employment, and now everything is out in the open as it should have been from the beginning. A bad PR week where there was no legislative activity does not constitute an ethics violation.
(Raymond White of Bedford is a former Republican state senator.)