Following the money in New Hampshire

A sordid chapter in New Hampshire politics is now closed, but the stench lingers.

Gene Chandler is the former speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. He was forced to give up his speakership when it was revealed that he had taken, over the years, over $64,000 in cash from lobbyists, corporations, and “friends” from the North Country of New Hampshire, but failed to mention that in his financial-disclosure forms. Chandler pleaded guilty to violating state law, and was fined $2,000 and given 100 hours of community service.

Once the legal matters were settled, then it was the House’s turn to address the ethics rules violations. Their options were anything from no action to explusion (Chandler had already resigned his speakership).

First up, the House voted on whether to expel Chandler. That failed by a 189-172 vote. Next, they voted on whether to “censure” him. That one passed, by a vote of 274-86.

(A brief aside: the New Hampshire House has 400 members, making it one of the largest deliberative bodies in the world. Further, its members are paid $100/year, meaning that Chandler took in the equivalent of 640 years pay, and was fined 20 years pay.)

I thought Chandler ought to have been expelled. Even if he didn’t see it that way, by taking in that much money and not reporting it, he gave the impression that access to him (arguably one of the most powerful men in the state government) was available for a fee. And even if he was expelled, he could run again and rejoin the House. Hell, he’s already been re-elected once since the scandal broke.

But the House decided to take it easy on him.

(Author’s note: it’s become common practice in mainstream media accounts that when a lawmaker is in legal trouble, Republicans get their party affiliation mentioned, while Democrats do not. In an attempt to provide balance for this trend, I am refraining from mentioning which party to which Chandler belongs. But here’s a hint: he’s only acting like a jackass; he doesn’t make a habit of wearing little drawings of them to declare his party membership.)

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One Response

  1. Jay June 3, 2005