BRENTWOOD — Lawmakers will allow a member of the Attorney General’s Office to oversee the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office until a new county attorney is elected in November.
The county legislative delegation voted, 32-23, on Monday to approve an agreement with the Attorney General’s Office that gives Senior Assistant Attorney General James Boffetti the authority to run the office.
But many lawmakers questioned the move, spurring at least an hour of debate before the vote, according to delegation Chairman Norman Major, R-Plaistow.
Some legislators supported former County Attorney James Reams’ recommendation of retired Judge Robert Morrill over Boffetti.
Boffetti, head of the attorney general’s consumer protection bureau, served as interim county attorney for six months after Reams was suspended by county commissioners in November and his prosecutorial authority was stripped by Attorney General Joseph Foster.
Reams was accused of sexually harassing employees, mismanaging his office and ethical lapses. He won his bid for temporary reinstatement in May, but still faced a Superior Court hearing Aug. 4 on the Attorney General’s Office’s request he be removed from office.
The hearing was canceled after Reams retired June 17. He stepped down after reaching an agreement with county commissioners that meant he would be paid the remainder of his $85,000-a-year salary, or about $42,000, through Jan. 1.
Boffetti returned to the office as interim county attorney three weeks ago and was sworn in Monday by Rockingham County Superior Court Judge David Anderson.
“It was like I never left and we picked up where we left off,” Boffetti said yesterday. “I’m glad to assist in any way here.”
Lawmakers had the option of relying on the Attorney General’s Office for oversight or appointing another replacement who would serve until the election, Major said.
The delegation’s executive officers decided they didn’t feel it was appropriate to appoint one of the five candidates running for the post this fall, he said.