Dan Tamburello, former New Hampshire State Representative, has some words of wisdom and warning to the incoming house Republicans about electing Shawn Jasper as their speaker.
Honorable Members of the General Court,
I am writing to you today to illuminate to you the critical importance of your vote for the Speaker of the New Hampshire House.
Many of you are first term legislators and may not know me personally, so let me give you a little background on myself before I tell you what I think it is you really need to know before you vote on November 30th.
I grew up in New Jersey in a family of 6 with an Italian father and an English-German mother. Both were either children of immigrants or grandchildren of immigrants, but both of my parents grew up very poor in what would be considered by today’s standards (and is now) housing projects or the immediate neighborhood surrounding them in Northern NJ. My mother is an Evangelical Protestant Christian and my father is a Catholic. Both parents started out as Democrats and ended up as Republicans, since Ronald Reagan and beyond. As a boy I have vivid memories of Ronald Reagan as President and the greatness and pride that we all felt with him in the Oval Office. I mention the religion only to shed some light on what formed my ethos and values growing up. Pride in my country and a calling to serve drove me to, as a Junor in college, enlist in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. Shortly after completing boot camp, I returned full time to college and finished my degree, then shipped out to OCS becoming a commissioned officer, a fighter pilot, and finishing out as an intelligence officer, before retiring from the Reserves in October. I spent most of my career on active duty and this included a combat tour in Iraq where I was involved intimately in Operation Al Fajr. My time in the Marines included platoon and company commands, as well as assignment to special missions. Due to my personal integrity and special trust from my Commanding Officer, I was even asked to preside over a Summary Court Martial. I moved to New Hampshire in 2006, and I served in the New Hampshire House from 2011-2016.
In November 2010, I was elected for the first time to the New Hampshire General Court as a member from Londonderry also representing (at the time) Auburn. This was Speaker O’Brien’s first term as Speaker, where he narrowly overcame Gene Chandler in Caucus for the nomination. My fellow Freshman bestowed upon me the great honor of electing me Freshman class Chairman, along with Fred Rice and Charlie Moore (both of whom are outstanding individuals). There was much tension back then, as there is now, and I asked Speaker O’Brien to ensure he included the “Main Streeters” on his leadership team, as I thought this was the “right” thing to do, which he did (to be fair, I have no idea if my advice influenced his choice or not). During that Bi-ennium, Republicans elected our Majority leader. DJ Bettencourt won that vote over Paul Mirski, after the minority vote recipient (Shawn Jasper) threw his weight behind DJ after Shawn finished 3rd of three candidates on the first ballot. DJ in turn, appointed Shawn and Paul to be his deputies. In the 2011-2012 term we accomplished much, including a Republican budget that essentially stands intact to this day. Additionally, we made history by overriding the Governor, John Lynch, 9 different times. We would have accomplished more, were it not for Shawn often spending many cycles attempting to sabotage other Republicans in the House and leaking information and coordinating with Democrats, on initiatives he personally disliked. On at least one occasion he took it upon himself to go into a committee and yell in public at a Disabled-Vet Chairman over some bill he personally disliked, abusing his position, embarrassing fellow Republicans and disrespecting the chairman. When I and others attempted to confront Shawn with his shenanigans and activities, he would dodge us and make excuses not to have to talk to us. Shawn did much to sabotage the Republican platform those two years and stymie conservative legislators. Though we did well, we certainly could have done much better, were it not for the activities of Shawn and a few others.
The 2013-2014 legislative session saw Democrats take back over the House on President Barack Obama’s coattails, and they also received the Speakership. Gene Chandler was made minority leader, and Shawn was an oft used deputy among a few others.
The 2015-2016 session saw Republicans regain the House and, again, Bill O’Brien elected Republican leader and Speaker Candidate. Gene Chandler conceded, and threw his support behind O’Brien. Up until the days that followed this point, I maintained a cordial and professional relationship with Shawn. Though we did not agree on everything politically, I maintained a working relationship with Shawn.
Here’s the part you need to understand about what Shawn did after we elected Bill O’Brien. Shawn has always shown a hot temper, a penchant for petty vindictiveness, deceptiveness, a forked tongue and heaping helping of self-righteous appreciation. I will admit Shawn DOES know a lot about how the House works, but he knows nothing of honor and integrity. After Bill won, Shawn – who hates Bill – was so upset at the fact that he would not be included in the House leadership under O’Brien that he immediately began working to undermine the will of House Republicans by betraying us, and getting himself elected Speaker in front of the full House. Keep in mind, while Shawn’s voting record is much more moderate than many House Republicans, in my opinion, it was NOT the agenda that caused him to do this, but primarily two things: 1) O’Brien would be in charge, and 2) Shawn – the smartest person in the House (just ask him if you don’t believe me) would not be part of leadership in any way. These things he could not stomach. So, Shawn set about to sacrifice [effectively] Republican control of the House by getting the Democrats to support him along with about 20-30 Republicans, most of whom had very poor voting records when measured against the party platform. We all know what happened in front of the full house, and then Shawn became Speaker and a de facto puppet to the Democrats, jeopardizing many great things that could have been accomplished in the 2015-2016 term. Because of Shawn, from a Republican policy perspective, the 15-16 term was basically a joke, and I cannot tell you how many times Republicans sat helplessly there as Jasper controlled committees voted with the Democrats. It was utterly disgusting and shameful and a disservice to the voters of this State. The one real highlight and the only reason the budget passed was that Bill O’Brien, Steve Stepanek, and Pam Tucker decided it was the right thing to do to pull Shawn’s butt out of a sling and worked together to save the budget vote.
Here’s some other things that Shawn won’t tell you, but I am pretty sure he knows, deep down: no one really likes him, no one really trusts him, and the only reasons people support him now is because of any number of four things: 1) inertia (he’s the incumbent), 2) they’ve been promised something (a chairmanship, a parking space, a seat, etc), 3) they are Democrats who masquerade as Republicans anyway and are afraid that Carol, Laurie or Frank would do something that they disagree with and 4) ignorance about Shawn. Shawn also won’t tell you that he is the first Speaker in either party to be censured by their own State committee. Ever. Anywhere.
Don’t listen to Shawn, don’t be intimidated by Shawn, certainly do not trust anything he says, but most importantly, do your own homework before you vote. Dig up that censure message from the State party. Read it. Ask veteran legislators you trust what they really think about Shawn. Let them be candid, but watch for an angle if they are Jasper acolytes. Don’t think that because he claims to be a Republican that any actual Republicans like or support him for any reason other than advancing their own hides or some sense of inertia.
Most of what I have said here is fact and some of it might be considered opinion, but all of it is the truth as I observed it and know it to be.
Carol, Laurie, and Frank are all good people and solid Republicans who would never do something as dastardly and treasonous as what Shawn did, because Shawn only cares about himself first. Any one of those three (not Shawn) would be a fine choice for Speaker and orders of magnitude better served to our great State than Shawn.
Thank you for listening, but before you go, let me leave you with a final thought and a bit of advice: There will come a time when there will be close vote and you will want to be sure that your Speaker has your back, and is not working to undermine you, same as in combat, you want someone in the foxhole with you that you know you can count on. Think about that when you write a name on that ballot, not only on the first ballot, but all of the rest. Ask yourself what kind of person you want to lead you and your friends, whether the evidence indicates that they are trustworthy and like minded and whether you can really trust them to cover your six when things get tough.
In the meantime, I will be watching, and good luck, and do great things for our State