Foster confirmed unanimously as N.H.’s next attorney general

Last modified: Thursday, April 18, 2013
Former state senator Joe Foster was unanimously confirmed yesterday as New Hampshire’s new attorney general.

The Executive Council voted, 5-0, to confirm the Nashua Democrat for a four-year term as the state’s top law enforcement official.

“I think they came to learn through the hearing process what many in New Hampshire already know: that Joe is a terrific lawyer, a wonderful person and well-respected throughout the state, and is going to lead the Department of Justice and serve the interest of equality and justice in this state very well,” said Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, following the vote.

Foster, 53, served three years in the House and six years in the Senate. He was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and, after Democrats won a majority in 2006, the Senate’s majority leader for two years.

Hassan nominated Foster to replace Mike Delaney, who has been the attorney general since 2009 and last month said he plans to return to private practice.

She said the two men are working together on the transition, but didn’t give a specific date for Foster to take office.

Foster is a bankruptcy lawyer at the law firm of McLane, Graf, Raulerson and Middleton. Concerns were raised during a hearing earlier this month about potential conflicts of interest involving clients of the large law firm, where he’s worked for nearly 29 years.

Foster has said he’ll recuse himself from any cases he was involved with “personally and substantially,” and for a period of time will recuse himself from all cases involving lawyers from the McLane firm.

Three Democrats and two Republicans sit on the council, and no objections were raised yesterday.

“The council had a very good and fair and successful hearing on Mr. Foster to be the next attorney general,” said Councilor Debora Pignatelli, a Nashua Democrat. “I’m hoping that, with the concurrence of all the other councilors, we will confirm him and he will go on to lead the Department of Justice in a manner we can be proud of, as other attorneys general have led that office.”

Caza, Connor

In other action yesterday, the Executive Council voted, 4-1, to confirm Dennis Caza for a seat on the state’s Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission.

Caza is a registered lobbyist for the Teamsters. Earlier this week, state Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Horn blasted him in a news release as “a Hassan political crony who is beholden to union bosses and special interest groups.”

Councilor Chris Sununu, a Newfields Republican, voted against Caza, saying he believes it’s a potential conflict of interest for him to sit on the board that regulates facilities employing workers he represents.

But Councilor Colin Van Ostern, a Concord Democrat, said he expects Caza would recuse himself in any problematic situation. And Hassan said Caza would bring an important perspective to the commission. “I think it’s very important to have employee voices at the table as we do our work,” she said.

The council also confirmed, on a 5-0 vote, Mike Connor as the new deputy commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services. Connor was previously the department’s director of plant and property management.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)