Forrester to chair NH Republican Party


CONCORD — After serving three terms in New Hampshire Senate and mounting an unsuccessful bid for the governorship, Jeanie Forrester of Meredith has been chosen to chair the New Hampshire Republican Party. "I like challenges," she said.

As the the lone candidate for the post and with the endorsement of Gov. Chris Sununu, Forrester's ascension at the party's annual meeting passed with ease, overshadowed by the mixed response when Jennifer Horne, her predecessor, urged Republicans to scrap their opposition to same sex marriage.

"I didn't take anything for granted," Forrester said. "I ran like I was in a race out of respect for those who supported me." She said that she retraced the steps of her campaign for the gubernatorial nomination, traipsing up, down and around the state to meet city, town and county Republican committees.

Before serving in the Senate, Forrester, who first tasted politics as an aide to Gov. John H. Sununu in the early 1980s, was best known for work as a town administrator and community organizer. She led successful community development programs in Plymouth and Meredith and became a well known figure across Belknap and Grafton counties, experience that should serve her well in tending the grassroots of the party. Open, amiable and gracious, Forrester, known as "Toxic Jeanie" among Democrats, nevertheless brings sharp partisan elbows to a job that requires them.

Forrester inherits a party, which for the first time since 2004 holds the governor's office as well as the House and Senate, but not one of the state's four congressional seats. Moreover, the party is divided, or as Forrester acknowledged, "We are a party of diversity," then rattled off the factions — the House Republican Alliance, New Hampshire Liberty Alliance, Tea Party, Free State Project and, not least, the Trump supporters.

"There are so many factions and I intend to engage every one of these groups," Forrester said. "Their voices must be heard and their opinions must be respected."

Conceding not everyone will agree on everything, she said, "We'll look for common ground and find others things we can agree on. Anyone who wants to meet with me, I will meet with."

Forrester said she had an invitation from Aaron Day of the Free State Project and Liberty Caucus, whose independent bid for the United States Senate arguably cost the GOP the seat held by Kelly Ayotte.

"If he wants to meet," Forrester said. "I'll meet with him."

Forrester touted her candidacy for the party chair with the slogan "Make New Hampshire Red Again," which she said signaled "putting into practice what I learned while running for governor." That includes pursuing an aggressive fundraising campaign, engaging members of the business community, strengthening local party committees and recruiting promising candidates. She said that in 2016 the party targeted much of its resources and efforts on state races while in 2018 there will a greater focus on the federal contests with the aim of capturing at least one if not both of the House seats held by Democrats.

Forrester said that with 2016 proving to be a record year for fundraising, the GOP is in a sound financial condition and positioned to become even stronger. As a candidate for the party chair, she supported breaking with past precedent and making it a paid position, which easily carried the state committee by a vote of 268 to 90. She said that the specific terms remain to be defined by the executive committee while stressing "I intend to be full time." She said that she has begun assembling a staff for what she emphasized "will be a team effort."

On the Record - how your representatives voted, Jan. 26, 2017

The New Hampshire House of Representatives convened on Thursday, Jan. 26, in Concord and took up several bills of interest to local residents. Here is how your state representatives voted:

• On tabling an amendment to House Rule 43b which would have prohibited a bill being voted on in committee on the same day as its public hearing, Reps. Abear, Aldrich, Fields, Flanders, Fraser, Howard, Lang, Maloney, Plumer, Silber, Spanos, Sylvia, Vadney and Varney voted YES in favor of tabling; Reps. Fisher and Huot voted NO against tabling (so the amendment itself could have been voted on); Rep. Comtois had an excused absence.
The amendment was tabled by a vote of 200-165.

• On tabling an amendment to House Rule 63 which would have required House members to complete a gun safety course before carrying a concealed weapon in the State House, Reps. Abear, Aldrich, Fields, Fisher, Flanders, Fraser, Howard, Lang, Maloney, Plumer, Silber, Spanos, Sylvia, Vadney and Varney voted YES in favor of tabling; Rep. Huot voted NO against tabling; Rep. Comtois had an excused absence.
The amendment was tabled by a vote of 208-156.

• On "Inexpedient to Legislate" (killing the bill) for HB 206 to grant a marriage officiant a license for a single civil ceremony, the fee from which would go into a fund for domestic violence programs, Reps. Abear, Aldrich, Fields, Fisher and Flanders voted YES in favor of Inexpedient to Legislate (to kill the bill); Reps. Huot & Vadney voted NO against killing the bill. The bill was killed by a vote of 204-152.

• On "Inexpedient to Legislate" for HB 278 which would repeal the crime of criminal defamation since the sponsor says it is so rarely used, Reps. Fields, Flanders, Fraser, Huot, Lang, Spanos and Varney voted YES to kill the bill;
Reps. Abear, Aldrich, Comtois, Howard, Maloney, Plumer, Silber, Sylvia and Vadney voted NO against Inexpedient to Legislate so the bill could be voted on. Rep. Fisher had an excused absence.
The bill was killed by a vote of 262-92.

The next House Session is Feb. 2 at 10 a.m. at the State House in Concord.

– Kate Miller, former state representative, of Laconia

Gilmanton-Alton state rep pleads guilty to disorderly conduct


LACONIA — Four months after an altercation with police at a Dropkick Murphys concert at a local music venue, Gilmanton state Rep. Michael Maloney pleaded guilty Tuesday to a Class A misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.

Maloney, 51, of Gilmanton, was sentenced to serve six months in the Belknap County House of Corrections, all of which was suspended, and fined $1,000, $750 of which was suspended. The suspensions are conditional on one year's good behavior. Maloney has paid his fine.

According to Gilford Police statements made available pursuant to a Right-to-Know request, Maloney and other members of his family attended the concert on Sept. 17. One of his sons was holding two beers at one time, which is a violation of pavilion rules.

A statement made by security manager Jason Jenkins said a security person approached the man, who was Maloney's son, and offered to hold one of the beers until the other party could return. The man didn't want to comply and instead walked away.

When he continued to be uncooperative, Jenkins said he determined the younger man could no longer stay at the venue. The younger man said he wanted to talk to his parents.

Jenkins said Northfield Police Chief John Raffaelly and Officer Aaron Chapple responded and stood by. Jenkins said the entire family, a total of seven people, gathered where Maloney's son was and initially refused to comply with the request to leave but eventually they got to the front gate and left.

A while later, according to accounts from three police officers, including Chapple, Belmont Police Chief Mark Lewandoski and Gilford Police Lt. James Leach, someone in the family called 911 and reported they had been assaulted by police and wanted to speak with the New Hampshire State Police.

EMTs arrived in the parking lot to see if anyone was injured and all refused treatment but were told that someone in their party had been pushed by police, said Leach. Five police officers also responded with EMTs and Leach said Jenkins told the group that the pavilion wanted them off the property.

After more arguments, a second call was made to 911 and the caller was placed through to state police, who later told Gilford Police that they were refusing to respond. At 8:55 p.m., according to Gilford call logs, Maloney had called 911 several times but had hung up. Attempts to call him back went unanswered.

Leach's report said the Maloney group was escalating its behavior and were told that if they did not leave the property, they could be charged with trespassing.

When one of the women in the party told police she was having an anxiety attack, Lewandoski went to check on her and Leach said he called EMTs to respond.

Members of the group continued to yell at police, saying it was police who had caused the anxiety attack.

At this point, Leach said Maloney put his hands in his pockets and pushed his body into Chapple. When told by Leach that he had just assaulted a police officer, Maloney said he had his hands in his pockets so an assault was impossible.

Once pushed, Chapple said he pushed Maloney toward Leach, who handcuffed him and charged him with simple assault on a police officer.

"Mike was not guilty of assaulting a police officer," said Diane Maloney, who returned The Laconia Daily Sun's phone call because her husband was in a meeting.

She said he pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge because they "just wanted to get the whole thing behind them."

"We were there for a family function and when one of the boys was told to leave, we couldn't get anyone from the police to tell us why," she said.

She said they have never had problems with the police before and she was upset that no one would tell them why first her son and then her husband were told to leave.

"It was a bad night and I felt the police could have done a better job," Diane Maloney said. 

As part of a plea agreement with the prosecution, Maloney agreed to plead guilty to a Class A misdemeanor of disorderly conduct and the charge of simple assault on a police officer was eliminated.

Chapple said that as the victim, he was fine with the plea agreement as long as it was a Class A misdemeanor, because of its potential for jail time.

Maloney was elected to the state House of Representatives last November, and represents Belknap District 5, which serves Alton and Gilmanton.
As a state representative, he also sits on the Belknap County delegation. He also serves on the Environment and Agriculture Committee.

A spokesman for House Speaker Shawn Jasper said that while Jasper doesn't condone this kind of behavior, he doesn't feel that it rises to the level of censure.

He said Jasper hopes Maloney has learned his lesson.

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