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New Hampshire

August 23, 2013

Records show five considered for LGC

CONCORD — The quasi-public Local Government Center targeted five people to approach about becoming its executive director before picking New Hampshire Senate President Peter Bragdon, documents show.

The center did not identify the other four in 32 pages of papers it released late Wednesday night, mostly email exchanges between Bragdon and interim director George Bald beginning July 11.

After continued criticism from Democrats about potential conflicts of interest, Bragdon, a Republican, agreed last week to give up his Senate leadership role, but will remain a senator. He will officially step down during a Senate session Sept. 3 and his successor will be elected.

Bragdon, of Milford, has said he realized his new job might cause some people to question the openness and integrity of the Senate.

The center is an umbrella organization overseeing a health care trust, a workers’ compensation trust and a liability and property trust in which many municipalities participate.

It is embroiled in litigation with numerous municipalities over $36 million in surplus funds it collected and has an appeal pending before the state Supreme Court.

The documents raise several red flags, said Democratic Party spokesman Harrell Kirstein, who filed a right-to-know request for them. Paramount, Kirstein said, is an email to Bald on July 16 in which he says he talked to Rep. Jeanie Forrester that day about potentially taking a job at the center and notes, “Her reaction could not have been more positive.” Three days later, Bragdon appointed Forrester to the center’s regulatory study committee.

“Jeanie Forrester is now neck deep in the Peter Bragdon’s scandal,” Kirstein said yesterday. “How many more Republicans will be dragged in before this ends? No wonder she was silent about the massive and inherent conflicts of interest in Bragdon’s new LGC job. She knew about it nearly a month in advance and said nothing.”

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