New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella has issued a cease-and-desist order to the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee in response to its letter labeling the First in the Nation presidential primary “meaningless.”
“This Office recently became aware of a January 5, 2024, letter from you to New Hampshire Democratic Party (‘NHDP’) Chair Raymond Buckley,” Formella’s order reads. “In that letter, you state that the Democratic National Committee (‘DNC’) Rules and Bylaws Committee (‘RBC’) commanded NHDP to ‘educate the public’ that the New Hampshire democratic [sic] Presidential Primary Election scheduled for January 23, 2024, is ‘meaningless.’
“Falsely telling New Hampshire voters that a New Hampshire election is ‘meaningless’ violates New Hampshire voter suppression laws. See RSA 659:40, III; RSA 629:2 (prohibiting a person from commanding, soliciting, or requesting another person to engage in criminal conduct).
“Accordingly, this Office orders you, the DNC, and the RBC to immediately cease and desist from engaging in any conduct that violates RSA 659:40, III, RSA 629:2, or any other State election law,” reads the order, signed by Assistant Attorney General Brendan O’Donnell.
The order is addressed to the co-chairs of the RBC, Minyon Moore, and James Roosevelt Jr.
The DNC did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
On Saturday, the DNC sent a letter to the New Hampshire Democratic Party declaring the party’s primary — which President Joe Biden is boycotting — “detrimental,” “non-binding,” and “meaningless.”
And, the DNC added, it is Buckley and the party’s job to make sure Democratic voters know the New Hampshire primary “is a non-binding presidential preference event and is meaningless. The NHDP must take steps to educate the public that January 23rd is a non-binding presidential preference event and is meaningless, and the NHDP and presidential candidates should take all steps possible not to participate,” the DNC wrote.
In response, more than 70 N.H. House Republicans sent a letter to Formella Monday morning, urging his office to look into the DNC’s actions as potential voter suppression.
“We believe that this communication may constitute a violation of New Hampshire law, particularly Section 659:40 of Title LXIII, Chapter 659, Election Procedure. Section 659:40 of New Hampshire’s Election Procedure outlines prohibited acts, which include actions related to voter suppression, intimidation, and bribery,” they wrote to Formella.
State Rep. Joe Sweeney (R-Salem), one of the signatories, pointed out that the DNC’s message wasn’t just for state party officials, but for all potential primary voters.
And the complaints are bipartisan.
“I believe what they [the DNC] have done in New Hampshire is a form of voter suppression,” House Speaker Emeritus Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) told NHJournal. However, he doesn’t believe there needs to be an investigation. “Instead, each New Hampshire Democratic voter on Primary Day should judge the actions for themselves. Then vote as their conscience dictates.”
During a debate between Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips and author Marianne Williamson in Manchester Monday morning, both Biden challengers denounced the actions of the DNC.
“The Democratic Party right now is trying to pursue a coronation instead of a competition,” Phillips said.
“There is candidate suppression going on here. The DNC has decided and has been very overt about it: Joe Biden would be their candidate. Candidate suppression is a form of voter suppression,” Williamson said.
“Political parties traditionally stood in the back, and the people decided who would be the candidate. It should be you, the people of New Hampshire, the people of every other state, to decide who is the best Democratic nominee to be either,” Williamson added.
Talking to reporters after the debate, Phillips went further.
“Here you have one of the two major parties telling people in this state their vote doesn’t matter, and you are ‘meaningless?’ How in the world is this tolerated? How in the world does the president of the United States of America not intervene? Where is he — literally?” Phillips asked.
“Where is he? Why is he not answering your questions? Why is he not debating? Why is he not showing up in front of voters? Why will he not participate?
“And then he gives a speech in Pennsylvania to talk about the preservation of democracy? I mean, come on,” Phillips said.
The New Hampshire attorney general’s warning to the DNC may just be the beginning.
“This matter remains open, and this Office reserves the right to take further enforcement action based on the actions described in this letter and any other actions that violate State election laws,” the order concludes.