Before Mitt Romney hops on that Kelly Ayotte bandwagon and names the New Hampshire Senator to be his running mate, he might want to double-check the work of his vetting committee. Here are three career lowlights that made it to our medal round.
AYOTTE FALLS FOR PHONY BIN LADEN PHOTO
Soon after Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. military forces, while President Obama was debating whether to release photos of his corpse, Ayotte was shown a Photoshopped image purportedly showing the dead terrorist — and she fell for it. Reuters had the story:
US Senator Kelly Ayotte on Wednesday said she had seen one of the photos of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and that it confirmed his identity.
“I have seen one of them,” the Republican senator said. “Another senator showed it to me.” She said it was a facial shot.
Asked if the photo confirmed the identity of the dead man as Bin Laden, she said, “My view, yes.”
DID POLITICAL AMBITION INFLUENCE DEATH PENALTY DECISION?
Email correspondence from Ayotte’s tenure as New Hampshire attorney general has revealed that less than two weeks after a police officer was murdered, she discussed her decision to seek the death penalty with her future campaign strategist, Robert Varsalone. The exchange was captured by the Concord Monitor:
Varsalone e-mailed Ayotte about the likelihood of then-U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass, a Republican, losing the upcoming House race to Hodes, with the subject “Get ready to run… .”
Ayotte responded, “Have you been following the last 2 Weeks. A police officer was killed and I announced that I would seek the death penalty?”
To which Varsalone wrote back, “I know, I read about it. Where does AG Ayotte stand on the Death Penalty? BY THE SWITCH.”
A group of former prosecutors and assistant attorneys general called it a “troubling exchange” and wrote that the message indicates her decision “was motivated in part by her political ambitions.”
AYOTTE QUIETLY SETTLED COURT CASE BEFORE CLAIMING VICTORY
When Sarah Palin endorsed Ayotte for the Senate, she said Ayotte “battled all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to protect the rights of New Hampshire parents — and won!” It’s easy to see where she got that idea, Ayotte’s Senate campaign was making the same claim. It wasn’t true.
For months, Senate Republican candidate Kelly Ayotte’s campaign has promoted that she “won” a U.S. Supreme Court decision, defending a 2003 New Hampshire law requiring that a minor girl notify a parent before getting an abortion.
Yet, as attorney general in April 2009, Ayotte approved spending $300,000 in taxpayer money to settle the case and pay the legal costs of the opposing party, after a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge decided Planned Parenthood of Northern New England was the winner.
The state paid Planned Parenthood with two payments of $150,000 each in April and August 2009. These payments quietly passed through the state’s budget office and did not require the approval of the Legislature or Gov. John Lynch.
The $300,000 settlement did not become public knowledge until a year later when the Nashua Telegraph broke the story during Ayotte’s Senate campaign.