ALTON — Town government critic Jeffrey Clay has petitioned the state Attorney General’s office to intervene in what he alleges are two instances where the town has violated state election laws with regard to this year’s Town Meeting.
In one complaint, Clay alleges he was improperly ejected from the Feb. 5 town deliberative session. In the other, he asserts that 10 warrant articles requesting town money for nonprofit organizations are improper and therefore should not be included on the warrant.
Town Administrator Elizabeth Dionne on Tuesday said the town would have no comment other than to say that it was the first time it had learned of Clay’s actions.
Assistant Attorney General Matt Broadhead said Tuesday his office had so far received only the complaint pertaining to the warrant articles. He declined to comment on Clay's complaint, but said that every complaint is reviewed by an attorney and that, after the review, a decision is made whether to launch a formal investigation.
Clay asserts that Town Moderator Robin Lane “conducted an illegal vote” when she asked the approximately 50 people who attended the deliberative session if Clay should be removed from the meeting. He disputed Lane’s characterization that he was being disruptive. Rather, he stated, he was questioning the legality of certain articles on the warrant. Lane’s actions deprived him of his right as an Alton voter to participate and vote at the meeting, he claims.
Those 10 articles labeled “special” are illegal, Clay alleges, because there is no evidence that they are petitioned warrant articles.
“The Alton selectmen and Budget Committee inserted the warrant articles without any signed petitions by Alton voters whatsoever,“ Clay states in the complaint.
Clay further alleges that Lane’s act to throw him out of the meeting was influenced by his assertion that the articles for nonprofit funding were illegal.
Voters are being asked to appropriate between $56,000 and $57,000, for the 10 nonprofits, which include New Beginnings, the American Red Cross, and Central New Hampshire VNA and Hospice. The money for outside agencies comprise about 0.7 percent of the town’s overall proposed budget of $8,181,850.
In his complaints, Clay is asking the Attorney General’s Office to fine Lane and the town, as well as to order the town to hold a new deliberative session.
The complaints are the latest in a series of legal clashes between Clay and the town’s selectmen and the Alton School District.
Clay and the town are awaiting a Superior Court judge’s ruling on Clay’s civil complaint that the selectmen have been holding illegal meetings for which there is an insufficient public record. Also, the state Supreme Court has before it Clay’s appeal of his conviction for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest arising out of his actions at a February 2017 selectmen’s meeting, from which he was removed by a police officer.