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House Speaker Jasper removes felon state rep from criminal justice committee



Last modified: Sunday, January 04, 2015
House Speaker Shawn Jasper has removed freshman Rep. Albert “Max” Abramson from the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, citing the Seabrook Republican’s felony conviction.

Abramson won his first term in November and requested a seat on that committee.

“Once we did our due diligence and saw the facts, I felt that it was inappropriate for Rep. Abramson to serve on the Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee, given the nature of his conviction,” Jasper said in a statement. “Once I have had the opportunity to speak directly with Rep. Abramson, he will be reassigned to a different committee.”

A jury in 2012 found Abramson guilty of one felony count of reckless conduct, a charge stemming from a 2010 party at Abramson’s house where he fired a gun. Abramson received a one-year suspended sentence.

Although the conviction made news at the time – when Abramson was a member of the local planning board – the felony wasn’t brought to Jasper’s attention until earlier this week.

Jasper has yet to publicly announce where he will reassign Abramson.

Abramson said one of the main reasons he ran for office was to sit on the criminal justice committee and to work on those policies.

Abramson continues to fight his own conviction. He recently filed a motion to reopen the case in Rockingham County Superior Court, citing new evidence. The state Supreme Court rejected an appeal in 2013 to overturn the conviction.

Abramson maintains he is innocent, and said he fired the gun to break up a fight and prevent people from getting stabbed at a party thrown by his roommate. The prosecution, however, argued that Abramson should have called the police and said he acted recklessly, not knowing who was in the vicinity of the gunshot. The jury found Abramson not guilty of four other felony charges of endangering specific individuals by firing the shot, according to the Portsmouth Herald.

On Tuesday, the House Committee on Legislative Administration will meet to go over the eligibility requirements to hold public office. According to state law, those sentenced for a felony may not become a candidate for public office or hold public office until their “final discharge.”

The issue came up in 2012, when Stacie Laughton became the state’s first openly transgender candidate to win a seat in the House of Representatives, but stepped down soon afterward.

The Attorney General and Ballot Law Commission determined Laughton ineligible to hold public office because the 10-year suspended sentence she received on a felony conviction for conspiracy to commit credit card fraud had yet to expire.

Abramson completed his sentence in July – completing the required 262 hours of community service – and received his final discharge, he said. But the Seabrook Republican filed to run in June, which was before his final discharge.

The filing form, however, declares Abramson, or anyone running for state representative, “a candidate for nomination.” Abramson made it through the September primary before winning a House seat in the November election.

The subcommittee on elections meets at 11 a.m., while the full committee will convene at 1 p.m.



(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or at amorris@cmonitor.com.)