Sununu adviser resigns after AG investigation into professional behavior

  • The State House in Concord, N.H., is seen on May 18, 2017. Sarah Kinney

Monitor staff
Thursday, May 31, 2018

A top drug policy adviser for Gov. Chris Sununu resigned Wednesday in a cloud of uncertainty, shortly after a personnel investigation by the attorney general’s office into his behavior.

Marty Boldin, Sununu’s policy adviser for prevention, treatment and recovery, stepped down sometime after the governor’s office received the results of the investigation, according to a news release by chief of staff Jayne Millerick.

“The attorney general’s office has completed their personnel review and today, we received the resignation of Marty Boldin, Policy Advisor on Prevention, Treatment and Recovery,” Millerick said. “As with all personnel matters, details of the review are confidential.”

The investigation, launched April 26, was set off by an “an ongoing personnel issue,” Millerick said on May 4, and Boldin had been put on paid administrative leave when it started. But details on what prompted it have been kept from the public eye.

Hired in 2017, Boldin was responsible with setting Sununu’s policy agenda for substance abuse prevention and treatment efforts, as well as for coordinating with the recovery community for ideas and input. He had previously chaired the Recovery Task Force of the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery.

Sununu’s office was approached by the Attorney General’s office on April 26 with accusations made against Boldin, Millerick said at the time, setting off the investigation. But some evidence suggests the problems had been present beforehand. In comments on May 4, Millerick said the office had directly received one complaint relating to Boldin’s inappropriate use of child volunteers’ time.

“I have received one call from a nonprofit organization to inform us that she had heard that students on the Governor’s Youth Council may have been being asked to work on council activities during school hours,” Millerick said. “I immediately spoke with Mr. Boldin about this inquiry, and it is my understanding that efforts were made to ensure that council work would not occur during school hours.”

Meanwhile, an email reported by New Hampshire Public Radio revealed concerns had been aired among officials within the Department of Health and Human Services as early as March. The outlet also reported that at least three separate recovery organizations had established safety plans to handle Boldin’s behavior.

Asked directly during a May 16 press conference whether he would fire Boldin if the results of the attorney general’s review demonstrated wrongdoing, Sununu demurred.

“We asked the attorney general to review as a matter of personnel,” he said at the time. “Personnel matters come up from time to time. They’re going through a review. Beyond that, I can’t comment on what he’s going to say, what actions will be brought to bear. I don’t know about the validity of any of these allegations and where they stand. We really have to wait for the attorney general.”

Pressed on whether he had heard any complaints about Boldin’s behavior prior to the attorney general’s April 26 alert, Sununu listed one. Boldin had demanded long working hours for volunteers on one of the governor’s policy initiatives.

“The only concern that I’ve been made aware of was as we move forward in one of our programs, Marty was having folks volunteer a little bit to help with our recovery-friendly workplaces, and there were some issues just in terms of the hours that folks that were participating in that program,” Sununu said. “We don’t want them, you know, burning the candle on both ends, so to say, ’cause they had other responsibilities. That’s really the only issue that I’ve been made aware of.”

The Recovery Friendly Workplace Initiative, one of Sununu’s top priorities, was launched in early March, making the concerns alluded to by Sununu recent. He declined at the time to elaborate further.

A phone call to Boldin was not answered Wednesday evening.

At the time of acknowledging the attorney general’s investigation on May 4, Millerick emphasized Boldin’s qualities. She called him an “accomplished addictions and social work professional” who “came highly recommended from members of the recovery community due to his extensive clinical experience in substance abuse treatment, prevention, intervention and supervision.”

On Wednesday, the tone was more muted.

“The opioid epidemic is the No. 1 issue facing our state and Governor Sununu remains focused on helping those impacted by substance use disorder,” Millerick said.

(Ethan DeWitt can be reached at edewitt@cmonitor.com, or on Twitter at @edewittNH.)