CONCORD – Gov. Chris Sununu has withdrawn his nomination of Rockingham County Attorney Patricia Conway of Salem, New Hampshire, to serve as a Superior Court judge.
According to a spokesperson for the governor, the decision was made at Conway’s request. It comes two days after incoming Attorney General John Formella was asked to investigate possible voter fraud allegations against Conway dating back to 2008.
“… So we won’t be taking that up,” Sununu told the Executive Council at Wednesday's regular meeting. That was the end of the discussion on the subject, with Sununu offering no explanation for Conway’s withdrawal.
Conway did not return requests for comment.
In an emailed statement, Sununu's Communications Director Ben Vihstadt added, “the Governor thanked her for her willingness to serve.”
Monday, Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington wrote to Formella inquiring about a news article published in the The Eagle-Tribune in 2014 which examined Conway's voting record during the run for her current job.
The article reads in part: “In July, rumors circulated that Conway hadn’t voted for years and only registered to vote in her hometown of Salem in December, when she decided to run for office. She did not say why she hadn’t voted in six years, but said she cast a ballot in Atkinson because she was helping her elderly father at the polls."
Conway confirmed at an Executive Council hearing that the statement in the newspaper was correct, and that by her own account she was living in Salem at the time she cast her ballot in Atkinson.
Warmington went on in her letter to Formella, “As a judge, Ms. Conway would be responsible for presiding over proceedings of individuals accused of such crimes.”
And, “While any statute of limitations may have passed, the conduct at issue is relevant.”
Associate Attorney General James Boffetti has said there was no time before Wednesday’s Executive Council meeting to do a full investigation, but he asked Conway last week about the allegations.
At that time, Conway said she was staying more at her father’s house in Atkinson than at home because she was taking care of him, so she voted there in the general election of November 2008, Boffetti said.
He noted that since the statute of limitations would have run out on any voter fraud crime and based on her response, his office didn’t pursue the matter any further.
The New Hampshire Bar Association Board of Governors gave Conway qualified support for the judgeship, but with reservations for her impartiality and fairness. It particularly focused on her lack of civil experience.
Conway acknowledged during the public hearing that her entire career has been spent on criminal prosecution, but she said she did not think it could preclude her to be a Superior Court justice.
Material from InDepthNH was used in this report.