Earlier this week, Steve broke the story about the Newfields ordinance, which was intended to stop protesting outside the home of Chris Sununu.
Steve, in his post, noted that the following members of State-government were in attendance:
If you read Steve’s post, you will also see that Sununu’s brother, Michael, is one of the Town’s selectmen and he did NOT recuse himself from the vote on the ordinance.
This brings us to RSA 21-G:23, which is part of the Code of Ethics covering the Governor’s office:
21-G:23 Misuse of Position. –
No executive branch official or classified employee shall:
I. Disclose or use confidential or privileged information acquired in the performance of his or her duties for the state for personal benefit or for financial gain.
II. Use his or her position with the state to secure privileges or advantages for himself or herself, which are not generally available to governmental employees, or to secure governmental privileges or advantages for others to which they are not otherwise entitled.
Sununu claims that he knew nothing about the ordinance:
In a statement released Monday night, Sununu’s spokesperson Ben Vihstadt said, “Governor Sununu and his family were not at home at the time of the protest. The Governor had no involvement in the ordinance brought forth by Newfields Police Chief Liebenow and passed by the Select Board, nor does the Governor have any involvement in enforcement of the ordinance. Any questions regarding the ordinance and its enforcement should be directed to the Town of Newfields.”
I suppose it is possible that the Attorney General’s Office, the State Police and the Department of Safety all decided on their own … without any prompting or input, direct or indirect from Sununu … to attend the Selectmen’s meeting and then all on the spur of the moment decided to speak in favor of the ordinance. But that seems rather farfetched, doesn’t it? Even if Sununu’s brother Michael or someone else in Town government was running the show and contacted the Attorney General’s Office, etc., it is hard to believe that neither the Attorney General, nor the State Police, nor the Department of Safety would have participated in the meeting without first clearing it with the Governor’s office.
In other words, it appears that Sununu violated the misuse of position statute by “[u]s[ing] his or her position with the state to secure privileges or advantages for himself , which are not generally available to governmental employees.”