Recovery advocate resigns from nonprofit after appearing in political attack ad against Hassan

  • Crews

Monitor staff
Published: 9/1/2016 3:59:16 PM

Melissa Crews has resigned from the board of Hope for New Hampshire Recovery following pushback for appearing in a political attack ad that accused Gov. Maggie Hassan of mismanaging the state’s opioid crisis. 

Crews, of Bedford, did not return a request for comment. She submitted her resignation to the nonprofit’s board of directors at the start of the week, said Hope for New Hampshire Recovery CEO Cheryl Coletti-Lawson.

“Melissa was the inspiration and the passion that helped get Hope off the ground,” Coletti-Lawson said. “Her contribution to Hope and the entire recovery movement are without equal.”

Crews was criticized by some Hope board members after starring in a 30-second television ad funded by the National Republican Senatorial Committee that casts blame on Hassan for the state’s rising drug deaths. 

“With all my heart, I believe that the governor has mishandled this crisis. It’s sad,” Crews says in the ad that began airing last month. “The cost of the entrenchment and bureaucracy is 429 people dying a year. That’s the cost.”

Hassan, the state’s two-term Democratic governor, is seeking to unseat Republican U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte this year. Substance abuse has become a major issue in the race, as the state is projecting a record 500 people will die from drug overdoses this year. The ad was the latest in a string attacking Hassan over the opioid crisis, but marked the first time a recovery advocate weighed in on the politics so publicly.

Peter Evers, a mental health professional on Hope’s board, told the Monitor last week he was “disappointed” by the ad. Board member Bob Kelley told New Hampshire Public Radio he was “horrified.”

“We’re at such a critical time at getting this right,” Evers said. “And I don’t think a nonprofit should be going out making statements like that.”

Hope for New Hampshire Recovery is not explicitly named in the ad, and Crews is identified as a “peer recovery councilor.” But Crews is well-known as a face of the nonprofit. She chaired the board of directors last year, when the organization was opening recovery centers across the state.

Coletti-Lawson declined to comment on the ad and said the nonprofit takes “no political position.”

Hassan called the ad “misleading” in a recent press conference. Her campaign delined to comment on Crews’ resignation. 

Hope for New Hampshire Recovery has opened six centers, including in Concord, Manchester and Berlin. The nonprofit helps people maintain their recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol. It plans to open its seventh center in Franklin this fall.

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or 

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