Disgraced New Hampshire Democrat Rep. Stacie Laughton (D-Nashua) will remain in jail on Wednesday rather than participate in Organization Day, giving the GOP more breathing room as it hopes to hold the majority.
In an email to Secretary of State David Scanlan, Laughton’s attorney, public defender Elliot Friedman, said the incarcerated state representative will not be executing her duties for some time to come.
“I am writing at the request of Rep. Stacie-Marie Laughton to let you know she will be unable to undertake her normal legislative activities for the next couple of months.”
This is not new for Laughton, who has been elected by the voters of Nashua three times to represent them in the House but, due to her legal troubles, has only actually served one full term.
Republicans currently have a 201-198 majority in the House, with one seat still unfilled due to a tie vote. Multiple House sources tell NHJournal they expect to have 100 percent attendance or very close to it on Organization Day. Laughton’s decision not to exercise her right to show up means it is even more likely Republicans will have the votes needed to elect a speaker. It also helps Scanlan, who took over the secretary of state job in January when Bill Gardner retired, in Scanlan’s bid to win his first election to the position.
Democrats have targeted Scanlan with unfounded election conspiracy theories in their push to elect former state Sen. Melanie Levesque (D-Brookline). Those efforts suffered a blow when President Joe Biden and his allies pushed the party’s New Hampshire primary into second place on its 2024 calendar.
Laughton has been in and out of jail since at least 2008 when she was convicted of credit card fraud. Four years later, Laughton was charged with a crime after calling in a bogus bomb threat at the Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua. Those charges were later dropped as Laughton claimed she was suffering from a mental health crisis at the time.
Laughton, who was the first transgendered person elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives is currently serving probation over stalking and harassment charges. Now she faces dozens of new misdemeanor charges ranging from making false 911 calls to stalking to criminal defamation, all related to her harassment of the same alleged victim. NH Journal is not identifying the woman named as Laughton’s target.
Granite State Democrats, including state party chairman Ray Buckley and incoming House Democratic leader Rep. Matt Wilhelm (D-Manchester), have declined to publicly condemn Laughton’s actions or announce they would oppose her being seated as a member of the House. They have declined multiple requests for comment from the media as well.
While losing Laughton’s vote may cost her party political opportunities depending on turnout Wednesday, it also allows Democrats to avoid the embarrassment of a member arriving at the State House from her jail cell and then returning to custody when voting concludes.
Speaker Sherman Packard (R-Londonderry) who is likely to be re-elected to the top post on Wednesday, pledged to keep the House focused on legislative business, not Laughton’s problems.
“Representative Laughton is facing serious legal issues that she will need to focus on. The incoming legislature is looking forward to tackling important issues affecting the citizens of New Hampshire with or without Representative Laughton present,’ Packard told NHJournal.