In case you missed it, InDepthNH published a column on major ethics and constitutional lapses by Republicans in the New Hampshire Legislature, highlighting two recent high-profile controversies: the investigation into Speaker Pro Tem Laurie Sanborn use of COVID 19 funds and Troy Merner’s recent resignation from the house following an investigation that found he did not live in the district he was elected to represent.
Read on for highlights from Garry Rayno’s column.
IndepthNH: Distant Dome: Ethics Issues Plague the NH House
Normally House leadership would want to avoid something that might create the appearance of a conflict-of-interest, but an industry stakeholder was named chair of the committee, which is equivalent to putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop.
One or two people from the industry should be on the commission, but a person who owns or whose husband owns a casino should not be chair, particularly when she is a lawmaker in the House Republican leadership.
Last week, Rep. Troy Merner of who knows where, was forced to resign from the House because an Attorney General’s Office investigation showed he did not live in his district and had not since August 2022, long before his reelection and voting in Lancaster instead of his new residence in Carroll, which is 15 miles away and not in the district he was elected to represent.
The constitution is clear that “lives in” means “lives in” and not “does not live in any longer,” but “I want to serve out my term.” Under the state constitution, Merner should not have been sworn in last December or been casting votes during the 2023 session, which he did.
The complaint against Merner was filed six months ago, but did not come to light until the attorney general’s report was released last week, although a good question to ask is who in the House leadership knew about the complaint and did nothing to correct the illegality.
Constitutionally, Merner should not have been a member of the House and should not have been able to vote on bills and motions this past session. However, because he voted, his vote was the determining vote on a number of House bills, several of which were some of the most controversial legislation before lawmakers this year like reproductive rights and Education Freedom Accounts.