Miscellany Blue - New Hampshire Politics

Witnesses Contradict O’Brien’s Bullying Denial

Last spring, GOP Rep. Susan Emerson accused House Speaker Bill O’Brien of yelling and swearing at her when he objected to her House budget bill amendments.

He was three inches from my face and started screaming at me that he had forbidden a Republican to put any amendments in. … The Sergeant at Arms from the Senate, who is a retired state trooper, came and stood next to me because he thought O’Brien was going to hit me.

In an interview with Kevin Landrigan last month, O’Brien flatly denied the altercation ever took place and said she made it all up.

“There were no loud voices, no abuse, no bullying. We were having a conversation, and I made clear to her the House was not going to adopt any of her amendments,” O’Brien said.

“She was emotional about it, but not because of anything I said. It pains me to this day to say Rep. Emerson has fabricated all of this,” O’Brien added.

Last week, the Senate sergeant-at-arms backed-up Emerson in testimony before the House committee investigating the incident.

Doug Wyman, who was the sergeant-at-arms for the Senate last year, corroborated Emerson’s account last week, according to members of the House Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification Committee.

Wyman said O’Brien and Bettencourt had Emerson backed up to a wall, according to legislators at the hearing. He heard the yelling through a closed door, opened it to investigate and sent O’Brien and Bettencourt on their way, they said.

A contingent from the Alvirne High School chorus, who were singing the National Anthem that day, also witnessed the fracas. The director confirmed Emerson’s account to Rep. Lee Quandt.

I also had the chance to talk to the Alvirne choir director who re-affirmed the attack on Susan did take place.

O’Brien had accused “Democratic Party operatives and union member Republicans” of creating the “false story” to discredit his record of accomplishment. He has not responded to the accounts from the sergeant-at-arms and choir director.


Rep. Emerson Describes Speaker O’Brien’s Bullying

I’ve written previously about Speaker O’Brien’s bullying of Rep. Susan Emerson over her proposed amendment to the House budget bill. On a radio show with former state senators Peggy Gilmour and Bette Lasky, Emerson described the incident in detail.

Speaker O’Brien, when he found out I had one amendment to House Bill 1, took me in the Senate chambers. He was three inches from my face and started screaming at me that he had forbidden a Republican to put any amendments in. I was trying to speak to him and he wasn’t listening. The Sergeant at Arms from the Senate, who is a retired state trooper, came and stood next to me because he thought O’Brien was going to hit me.


State House Bullying Takes Center Stage

Last week, GOP Rep. Susan Emerson filed a request for a bill to prohibit bullying in the state house and legislative office building. “There’s been a lot of bullying going on this term, and I’m sick of it,” Emerson said. The Keene Sentinel found support on both sides of the aisle for Emerson’s proposal.

“It’ll send a message that everyone needs to be on their best behavior and be kind and allow people to have independent thoughts,” [Twelve-term Rep. Julie Brown, R-Rochester] said. “We’re not a bunch of ants following in line, we’re independent people — 400 of us.”

Cynthia Chase, D-Keene … plans to support the bill. “It’s not just Representative Emerson, but there are other members of the majority who the leadership have taken to the woodshed, as it were,” she said. “It’s thoroughly unprofessional.”

The author of Bullyinworkplacea blog on workplace bullying, believes the public spotlight cast by Emerson’s bill could have a national impact.

[O]ne thing it could do is finally put an end to concerns about how to define what workplace bullying really is. And, frankly, maybe now we’ll have a public debate that brings lawmakers into play to do what they were elected to do; actually write and create laws that will address the concerns of their constituency.


Right-to-Work Bribes and Threats (Cont.)

When Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, who sits on the House Special Committee on Redistricting, suggested that GOP Rep. Susan Emerson’s vote on so-called Right-to-Work legislation could impact the make-up of her house district, I read it as a threat.

Susan Emerson—After having received so much negativity publicity (at least for Republican primary voters) opposing the Speaker in the media, might she be willing to come back to the fold? Maybe if she wants to get re-elected in 2012, she better start thinking of coming back. Hey, who knows what her district will even look like next year. Just the facts, M’aam, just the facts.

I was wrong. Apparently, it was a bribe.

[Emerson] told the Portsmouth Herald she has received various inducements from Republican House leaders — including a “plum” legislative district when redistricting takes place and reinstatement to her former committee seat — to change her opposition to House Bill 474.

Regardless, Emerson remains committed to voting against Right-to-Work. “I told them (House leadership) that everyone would know I sold out to them if I changed my vote.”


O’Brien’s Right-to-Work Strategy: Bribes and Threats

GOP state Rep. Lee Quandt documents the bribes and threats coming from the House leadership in its effort to override Gov. Lynch’s veto of the so-called Right-to-Work legislation.

What is happening now is state reps are being, as close as I can figure, bribed and threatened all in the same day. I have been told that the speaker is promising money for your campaign if you stick with him and vote for RTW by voting against the Governors Veto. Then I hear that the majority leader is calling state reps and threatening them to vote with leadership to override the governor’s veto….

One direct threat came from Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, who sits on the House Special Committee on Redistricting. Vaillancourt threatened to use the redistricting process to ensure Rep. Susan Emerson loses her seat in the next election if she votes to sustain the Governor’s veto.

Susan Emerson—After having received so much negativity publicity (at least for Republican primary voters) opposing the Speaker in the media, might she be willing to come back to the fold? Maybe if she wants to get re-elected in 2012, she better start thinking of coming back. Hey, who knows what her district will even look like next year. Just the facts, M’aam, just the facts.

Rep. Raymond Gagnon adds this:

Among the stories being circulated is that the more fervent radical republicans are threatening to have any member evicted from their caucus if they don’t support and vote the republican leadership position.

Quandt says the heavy-handed tactics will backfire:

The growing discomfort with our so called leadership team, is only going to split the house more and make it more difficult, if not impossible to hold a veto proof majority and may put the governor in a better position to negotiate a budget he is more comfortable with, due to the hard feelings and loss of respect for the current house leadership. In fact our leadership group is making their own case for why they should be removed.


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