Destruction and removal of political signs is nothing new in the political sphere, especially during the height of a Presidential election. It is, however, against the law in New Hampshire and violators are guilty of a misdemeanor which can subject them to fines up to $1,000 if proven guilty.
It is odd, though, for Democrats to play games with Republican signs during the primary season. It’s even more odd for it to be one of the Democrat candidates on the ballot. And it’s even more odd than that for the criminal to admit to violating the law while running for State Representative.
2 weeks before the state primary, this is exactly what happened, according to a police report sent to GraniteGrok.
Russell R Norman is a Democratic candidate for state representative for Chester, Auburn, and Sandown. He admitted to Sandown police that he had been illegally moving political signs belonging to Tony Piemonte, a Republican state representative for that district.
Sandown police, at that time, informed Mr. Norman that a warrant for his arrest would be forthcoming for violation of RSA 664:17. But, that never happened.
According to the report, Sandown police discovered that only the Attorney General can prosecute election-related crimes. At this time, the Attorney General’s office has not filed any charges against Mr. Norman.
Sandown, Chester, and Auburn make up Rockingham District 4, a Republican stronghold just east of Manchester. In 2018 all five of their state representatives survived the blue wave by a very healthy margin. The lowest Republican vote-getter in 2018 defeated the highest Democrat vote-getter by more than 1,000 votes. That is roughly 14 points (between just those two candidates.)
Along with quirky Russell Norman, who must have nothing better to do with his time than move around Republican signs, there has been destruction and removal of political signs in that district. It’s happening all over New Hampshire.
Sure, sign destruction happens to both sides. But, there is more destruction of Republican signs than Democratic signs, by all appearances, and it gets worse every cycle.
While it may not seem like a big deal to the destroyers or thieves, these signs cost money. They take time to place. They are someone’s property.
Mr. Norman may not respect Representative Piemonte’s time, money, or property, but he should – especially if he wants to earn the votes of people who certainly respect time, money, and property.
The Attorney General’s office needs to step up their game and start prosecuting election crimes. It shouldn’t take a Project Veritas ambush to get the AG to prosecute a cross-dressing double voter. It shouldn’t take that same Project Veritas report to get the Attorney General to admit they need to do better and fail to follow through.
RSA 664, which covers a lot of NH campaign law, has a lot of elements. It covers campaign finance laws (rarely enforced.) The RSA also covers sign theft and destruction (rarely enforced.) And it covers the required disclaimers on signs, pamphlets, and mailers (rarely enforced.)
The Attorney General, it seems, doesn’t just ignore double-voting cases, he also ignores entire chapters of RSA that he is sworn to uphold, which allows recalcitrants to continue violating those laws with impunity.
And that is just great for those of us who are victims of property theft and destruction, like Tony Piemonte, et al.