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Migrant Center Resident Charged With Sexual Assault of 12-Year-Old Manchester Girl

A migrant center resident who allegedly molested a 12-year-old Manchester girl had recently finished his probation on a federal identity theft conviction.

Angel M. Rivera-Laureano, 59, was arrested last month at the migrant shelter in Chelmsford, Mass., on the Manchester warrant, according to court records obtained by the Maine Wire. But Rivera-Laureano’s known criminal history goes back to at least 2012, when he was caught cashing counterfeit IRS checks in the Queen City, according to court records.

The Maine Wire quotes a “law enforcement source with knowledge of the case” that Rivera-Laureano is a suspected illegal immigrant using different names and identities since coming to the U.S.

“The source said Jan. 1 is a birthday frequently used for illegal aliens living under assumed identities and that law enforcement isn’t even certain Rivera-Laureano is his real name,” the Maine Wire reported.

Rivera-Laureano’s story adds to the drumbeat of crime news involving migrants. On Monday, two New York City police officers were wounded in a shootout with a Venezuelan man who was in the country illegally. 

According to the New York Post, a judge closed the immigration case against alleged shooter Bernardo Castro Mata, 19 on May 6. Mata illegally crossed the border into Eagle Pass, Texas, where he was caught and arrested but later released in July 2023, according to the report.

President Joe Biden is finally bowing to pressure on the border. On Tuesday, he announced an executive order closing down ports of entry to those seeking asylum. But Biden’s move after years of stalling is not enough, says Republican gubernatorial candidate Kelly Ayotte.

“Joe Biden’s open-border policies have allowed millions of unvetted illegal immigrants into our nation and made our country less safe. Biden’s political move today is too little too late and does not do enough to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into our country” Ayotte said.

Ayotte, a former U.S. senator, is facing former state Senate President Chuck Morse in the GOP primary for governor.

“This horrific example illustrates how weak border policies make every state a border state, inviting drugs, crime, and gang activity to New England,” Morse said. “Candidates like Kelly Ayotte, who voted to give amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, are no better than Joe Biden and can’t be trusted to suddenly grow a backbone on this issue. As governor, I will always protect New Hampshire families and will not back down from maintaining strong stances on immigration.”

The Ayotte campaign pushed back against Morse’s claim.

“Kelly Ayotte has never and will never support amnesty. Chuck Morse can’t rewrite history — he killed the sanctuary city ban and didn’t use E-Verify at his own company,” said spokesperson John Corbett.

Neither of the two major Democratic candidates for governor, former Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig or Executive Councilor Cindy Warmington, responded to a request for comment. Craig’s previously expressed openness to so-called sanctuary cities. Warmington has said that while she’s not a fan, she would not seek to ban them. Ayotte said Craig and Warmington are not going to protect Granite Staters.

“Joyce Craig and Cinde Warmington support [Biden’s] disastrous policies and would turn New Hampshire into a sanctuary state. As Governor, I’ll never allow that to happen, and I will work every day to protect Granite Staters.”

U.S. Marshals caught Rivera-Laureano at a taxpayer-funded shelter operated by the state of Massachusetts, according to the Maine Wire. The converted Best Western hotel is now a shelter for illegal aliens or homeless U.S. citizens. Why Rivera-Laureano was living at the shelter is unknown. Court records list two addresses, the shelter and a home in Chelmsford, Mass. 

Rivera-Laureano was sentenced to three years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to several counts including aggravated identity theft and fraud in 2013. He reportedly had fake drivers licenses made for an accomplice he recruited in New York, and the pair went north to cash the fake IRS checks in Manchester where they were caught.

Rivera-Laureano’s exact immigration status isn’t clear from available court records. His plea agreement and sentencing memorandum do not reference his immigration status being put at risk for the plea. There is a note in the sentencing order written by Judge Joseph Laplante recommending that Rivera-Laureano be allowed to serve his incarceration as close to Manchester as possible.

After his release in 2016, Rivera-Laureano was ordered to be on supervised probation for another three years, according to the sentencing order. That means Rivera-Laureano was free and clear as of spring 2019.

Rivera-Laureano came to live with an aunt in New York at age 16 after suffering abuse from his heroin-addict mother and her family, according to his sentencing memo. His father had abandoned the family when he was a small child, the memo states.

“It is clear that the defendant experienced a deeply deprived upbringing which left him unprepared for adulthood, the ramifications of which continue to this day,” the memo states.

Rivera-Laureano’s now being held without bail at Valley Street Jail in Manchester. He’s due in court for an arraignment in July. 

NH Dems Celebrate Defeat of Anti-CRT Law as Return of ‘Honest Education’

For state Rep. Keith Ammon (R-New Boston), Tuesday’s ruling striking down the state’s anti-discrimination in education law meant one thing.

“Judge Barbadoro just put stopping Critical Race Theory back on the ballot in November.”

New Hampshire Democrats, teachers unions, and the state chapter of the ACLU all celebrated United States District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro’s decision to declare the law unconstitutional. The Right to Freedom from Discrimination in Public Workplaces and Education law — often referred to by the judge and its critics as the “divisive concepts” law — was passed in 2021 in response to concerns about Critical Race Theory (CRT) content in classrooms. It barred any public employee from teaching or training others that race, sex, or other inherent characteristics made an individual racist, sexist, etc.

Democrats are delighted to see the law go.

“I am pleased that Judge Barbadoro recognized today what the Senate Democrats have said for years: the Republican’s ‘divisive concepts’ law is an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of Granite Staters,” said state Senate Democratic Leader Donna Soucy (D-Manchester).

And both Democrats running for governor confirmed Ammon’s prediction that the ruling would result in a partisan political battle.

Former Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig promised to shut down any Republican who tries to revive the law.

“As governor, I’ll stop any bill that threatens teachers’ ability to teach and prevents students from receiving an honest education,” Craig said.

Her fellow Democratic candidate for governor, Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, said the law “sought to undermine public education by subjecting educators to arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement and penalties. I am relieved to see the court’s ruling today declaring this law unconstitutional.”

And House Democratic Leader Rep. Matt Wilhelm (D-Manchester) linked the law to GOP-backed legislation for keeping boys out of girls’ bathrooms and off of girls-only sports teams.

“Make no mistake—the Republican Party will stop at nothing to infringe upon our children’s freedom with nonsensical culture wars like their “divisive concepts” ban, book bans, sports bans, and bathroom bans,” Wilhelm said.

But Republicans blasted the ruling. Sen. Tim Lang (R-Sanbornton) said it will allow teachers to promote racist CRT-inspired ideology in public classrooms.

“Seems odd the court thinks it’s OK to allow teachers to teach, based on your race, you are inherently a victim or a perpetrator of racism. Which is what the ‘divisive concepts’ law prohibited, no person is inherently racist based on race,” Lang said. 

Chuck Morse, who’s running in the GOP primary for governor, helped craft the legislation and get it to Gov. Chris Sununu’s desk. He said he will work to push through a law that passes constitutional muster if elected.

“We must equip our students with the tools to think critically and engage with each other respectfully, without the influence of biased and discriminatory teachings,” Morse said. “My administration will prioritize transparency, and adherence to constitutional principles to ensure that any new legislation will stand up to judicial scrutiny and serve the best interests of our students.”

Teachers union president Deb Howes with the New Hampshire American Federation of Teachers disagrees, saying Tuesday’s ruling should be the end of the lesson. 

“This decision should put to rest the issue, and New Hampshire teachers will no longer have to live under a cloud of fear of getting fired for actually teaching accurate, honest education.” Howes said. 

Ironically, the ruling may boost support for the Education Freedom Account program Howes and her Democratic allies oppose. Parents who discover they can’t prevent their children from being labeled “racist” or “privileged” by their local public school may turn to the EFA program to send their kids elsewhere.

Before the law passed, CRT-based content was being used in school districts like Manchester, Laconia, and Litchfield. However, there is no record of any teacher or administrator being subjected to enforcement under the law.

Manchester School District’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Director Christina Kim Philibotte and Andres Mejia, the former DEI director at SAU 16, said the ruling will let teachers get back to caring for “students of color, students from the LGBTQ+ community, and students with historically marginalized identities.”

“It is critically important that students see themselves in the books they read and in the classroom discussions they have to ensure that they feel cared for and valued,” Philibotte and Mejia said in a joint statement.

Federal Judge Tosses NH’s Anti-Discrimination Law as Too Vague

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that New Hampshire’s law barring the teaching of discriminatory content in schools is too vague and, therefore, violates the constitutional rights of educators. 

“The Amendments are viewpoint-based restrictions on speech that do not provide either fair warning to educators of what they prohibit or sufficient standards for law enforcement to prevent arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement,” wrote United States District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro. The judge based his ruling on the 14th Amendment protection against vague laws, and declared New Hampshire’s legislature passed a law that was nearly “unintelligible.”

The law’s supporters disagree.

Under the law tossed out by Judge Barbadoro:

  • You can’t “teach, advocate, instruct, or train” people that one group is inherently superior or inferior to another.
  • You can’t teach that people are inherently racist, sexist, etc., based on the group they’re in.
  • You can’t teach that people should be discriminated against based on their group.
  • You can’t teach people not to even try to treat people in other groups equally (the “race shouldn’t matter/colorblind” approach)

As a result, school districts like Manchester, Litchfield and Laconia could no longer use Critical Race Theory-based curriculum in their classrooms. Striking down the law will allow that content to return.

Barbadoro said the attempt to prevent teachers from telling students they are racist, sexist, etc. crossed the line into viewpoint discrimination.

“The most obvious vagueness problem is presented by the fourth concept, which prohibits teaching that individuals of one group ‘cannot and should not attempt to treat others without regard to’ their membership in another group. As other courts have observed, this language is ‘bordering on unintelligible’ because it employs the dreaded triple negative form,” Barbadoro wrote.

The judge argued the law created an untenable mix of subjective instructions and severe punishment under the law.

“Potential disciplinary sanctions include reprimand, suspension, and revocation of the educator’s certification,” Barbadoro wrote. “In other words, an educator who is found to have taught or advocated a banned concept may lose not only his or her job, but also the ability to teach anywhere in the state.”

New Hampshire Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut’s office declined to comment.

Nixon Peabody attorney Morgan Nighan, who represented the plaintiffs, said a law so unclear that it cannot be followed is a clear violation of the 14th Amendment.

“No ordinary person can understand what is banned,” Nighan said. “Laws like this have been routinely struck down across the country.”

Teachers could not speak about affirmative action legal cases, Israel’s war against Hamas, or any potentially hot button current events issue for fear of breaking the law, Nighan claimed. That meant teachers avoided large sections of history or current events out of fear that could lose their licenses without knowing why.

“For example, teachers may attempt to stimulate discussion by asking students pointed questions or encourage debate by presenting students with ideas contrary to their own. When such techniques are used to explore a banned concept, it is impossible to know whether a banned concept has been impermissibly taught,” Barbadoro wrote.

Supporters of the law dismiss that claim, saying the line between teaching that racism exists and actually advocating racism is easy to see.

Attempts by Edeblut to clarify the law backfired, according to Barbadoro’s ruling. Edelblut tried to explain his views in a June 2021 newspaper oped, but that only added to the confusion and fear, Barbadoro said.

“The threat of arbitrary enforcement based on Edelblut’s personal views has impacted teachers even in the absence of a formal complaint,” Barbadoro wrote.

One incident noted in Barbadoro’s ruling involved Keene Middle School scrapping a plan to teach Ibrahim X. Kendi’s “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and  You” after the district bought 250 copies of the books. According to the ruling, Edelblut’s column was why Keene abandoned Kendi’s book.

According to Kendi, “There’s no such thing as a ‘not racist’ or ‘race neutral’ policy,” and any person who doesn’t embrace what he calls “antiracism” — overtly treating white people differently from people of color — is engaged in racism. Some parents objected to the notion that their children would be taught that their skin color makes them inherently privileged and racist.

New Hampshire passed the anti-discrimination law as a set of amendments to the biennial budget in 2021. Rather than banning specific “divisive concepts,” the amendments sought to bar teachers from “teaching, advocating, instructing, or training” students that one group is inherently superior or inferior to another; that people are inherently racist, sexist, etc., based on the group they’re in; that people should be discriminated against based on their group; to stop people from treating other equally.

While the law allowed for teachers to discuss issues like racism and sexism in class, there was no clear legal line that distinguished such discussions from actual teaching, opponents complained.

Megan Tuttle, president of the New Hampshire NEA teachers union, said the law “stifled New Hampshire teachers’ efforts to provide a true and honest education. Students, families, and educators should rejoice over this court ruling which restores the teaching of truth and the right to learn for all Granite State students.”

Michael Garrity, spokesman for New Hampshire’s Department of Justice, said the state is reviewing Barbadoro’s ruling.

“The state is currently reviewing the court’s order and will consider next steps, including whether to appeal.”

Manchester Police Face Uphill Battle Without Bail Reform, Ruais Says

Manchester’s neighborhoods are struggling to keep up with the revolving door criminal justice system that’s releasing violent suspects even before their arrest reports are complete.

Mayor Jay Ruais said Monday city residents are fed up with a system that allows people charged with violent crimes to get out with no cash or personal recognizance bail within hours. In many cases, those same people are arrested again on new charges.

“The safety of our city is non-negotiable, and the men and women of the Manchester Police Department are heroes, full stop. Unfortunately, the state’s current bail system is undermining their efforts to make Manchester safe. When 40 percent of those arrested are ending up back on our streets, and 27 percent of those arrested are already out on bail, our police are fighting an uphill battle,” Ruais said.

Since the start of the year, Manchester Police have arrested 1,646 people, and at least 40 percent — more than 650 of those suspects — were released almost immediately on PR bail. The state needs to finally step in and fix the bail system that’s fueling the problem in Manchester, Ruais insists.

“There is not a single thing that would have a more transformative impact on the quality of life in our city than passing bail reform. It’s crucial for our legislators to take action to ensure the safety of our community and prevent repeat offenders from cycling through arrest, release and rearrest,” Ruais said.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kelly Ayotte got a look at the problem up close during her recent ride-along with Manchester police. The officer she rode with had just returned to work after a violent encounter with a suspect who was out on bail, she said.

“Last week, I did a ride along with the Manchester Police Department, and the officer I accompanied had previously been injured by a criminal let out on bail, resulting in him being out of work for six months. Our state’s failed ‘bail reform’ experiment has created a revolving door that allows violent criminals back into our communities, putting officers at risk and undermining their efforts to protect Granite Staters,” Ayotte said.

Ruais is focused on seeing bail reform happen. On his first day as mayor, he traveled to Concord to lobby state lawmakers to the cause. It’s a more direct approach than that of his predecessor, Democrat Joyce Craig, who advocated for the lower standards for bail that have released so many repeat offenders on the the streets.

Craig did not respond to a request for comment about her current view of bail reform. Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, the other Democratic gubernatorial hopeful, also declined to comment.

A proposal to change the bail system is currently under debate in the legislature. After the House passed a bill to tighten up the bail system and create a new bail magistrate position, the Senate weighed in with amendments to require that people charged with certain violent crimes have a hearing before a judge before being allowed out on PR bail. Reforming bail is now splitting Democratic unity in the Senate.

One of the three contenders in the Democratic primary for U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster’s seat in Congress, state Sen. Becky Whiteley (D-Hopkinton), opposes pretrial detention, saying it increases the odds an innocent person will plead guilty to a crime they did not commit. 

“Do we want that?” Whitley said during a recent Senate debate. “That’s really troubling.”

But Senate Minority Leader Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) said lawmakers must act as the problem is only getting worse.

“Doing nothing can’t happen,” Soucy said. “We’re never going to get it perfect. We have to get it as close to right as we can.”

Ayotte said as governor she’d protect police officers and citizens by keeping violent offenders in jail.

“As governor I will shut and lock the revolving door to keep our officers – and our communities – safe. I thank Mayor Ruais for fighting on this issue for the people of Manchester and the brave men and women of the Manchester Police Department,” Ayotte said.

NH Families Continue Using EFAs to Flee Failing Public Schools

Manchester mom Saverna Ahmad knew her children needed a lot more than what they were getting at their public high schools, but she didn’t have a lot of options.

“At other schools, my kids had to go with the pace. They were bored,” she said.

Manchester’s school district is struggling to educate all students, whether they need advanced courses or remedial help. In some cases, the district is failing. 

When the New Hampshire Department of Education released the mandated list of Comprehensive Support and Improvement Schools — the lowest-performing five percent of all schools in the state receiving Title I, Part A funds — three of these failing schools are in Manchester: Beech Street School, Henry Wilson Elementary School, and Parker-Varney School.

The state DOE has identified 19 schools across New Hampshire as Comprehensive Support and Improvement Schools, including high schools with a four-year graduation rate of less than 67 percent. Those schools are now eligible for a share of $3.7 million in additional federal funding.

“To help aid with continued progress, the New Hampshire Department of Education will offer ongoing reviews, technical assistance, and monitoring to support each CSI school with its improvement efforts,” said Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut.

In Manchester, the Middle School at Parkside, Southside Middle School, and Manchester West High School are all in the Department of Education’s Targeted Support and Improvement plan.

But until recently, working parents like Ahmad had limited options if their children were attending failing schools like these. Both her children, now teens, are gifted and ready for advanced classes that are unavailable in Manchester’s school district. In fact, the only solution her son’s teachers could come up with was to simply graduate him after his sophomore year in high school and get him into college.

“I don’t want him to go to college at 17,” she said. “As a mom, I don’t think he’s ready to graduate.”

Ahmad knew there were schools in and around Manchester that could offer her son and daughter the education they needed, but she couldn’t afford them. Private school tuition was simply out of reach until Ahmad learned about the Education Freedom Account program.

“I didn’t know this kind of thing existed until Shalimar (Encarnacion, with the Children Scholarship Fund NH) reached out, and now I’m an ambassador,” she said.

New Hampshire’s EFA program awards need-based grants to families they can use to pay for tutoring, necessary educational hardware, extracurricular classes, private school tuition, and home school supplies. For Ahmad and her children, it meant a lifeline to opportunity.

“Coming from a salary where you don’t have much, it allows us to give the kids a break, and they can grow and enjoy their education,” she said. “As a mom, it makes me feel like the kids are where they need to be.”

It may not take a mathematical genius to understand that as Manchester’s public schools continue to fail students, more families like Ahmad’s are going to seek another solution. This year, EFA enrollment went up 20 percent to 4,211 students. Of that total, 1,577 students are new to the program. 

“It has been three years since the launch of New Hampshire’s successful Education Freedom Account program, and it is apparent that New Hampshire families are taking advantage of this tremendous opportunity that provides them with different options and significant flexibility for learning,” Edelblut said.

But EFA’s popularity is a problem for state Democrats and their teacher union allies. Meg Tuttle, president of the New Hampshire NEA, wants families in public schools to stay put.

“Taxpayer funds should be spent to resource neighborhood public schools to ensure they are desirable places to be and to learn, where students’ natural curiosity is inspired,” Tuttle said in a statement.

According to data from the Department of Education, New Hampshire’s EFA system is cost-efficient. Taxpayers are handing over a little more than $22 million this school year for EFA grants, about $5,255 per student on average. The cost per pupil for public schools is close to $20,000, sometimes more. If all the EFA students switched to public schools, it would increase taxpayer costs by another $63 million.

Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, a Democrat running for governor, promises to end the EFA program if elected and kick all of the students out of the school of their choice. Poor parents who want to send their kids to private schools would be out of luck.

“We don’t take taxpayer dollars to subsidize private schools,” Warmington told WMUR.

Both of Warmington’s children attended the elite Tilton School for secondary education, an independent boarding and preparatory school in New Hampshire. Tilton charges $38,500 for day school and nearly $67,000 for boarding school.

Warmington is a retired partner with the prestigious and politically connected Shaheen & Gordon law firm. Her husband, William Christie, is a partner at the firm. Partners in law firms maintain part ownership and take a percentage of the firm’s overall profit.

The EFA grants are available to New Hampshire families who earn no more than 350 percent of the federal poverty level. For Ahmad, EFA means her children have opportunities to succeed in school and in life. These are opportunities she could not afford on her own.

“It levels the playing field,” Ahmad said.

Busted for Hooking Up, Sheriff Brave Goes Solo in Arraignment Hearing

Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave is charged with crimes related to his hookups with women, allegedly paid for with public money. But on Thursday, Brave was alone, representing himself during his arraignment hearing in a Strafford County courtroom.

Brave, who is accused of stealing taxpayer money to fund his secret love life and then lying about it to a grand jury, still does not have a lawyer. That may not matter much yet, as the hearing in Rockingham Superior Court was more of a formality to get the case started.

The Strafford County Democrat entered pleas of not guilty to the eight felony charges brought against him, and he remains free on bail with the same restrictions imposed when he was arrested last month. Brave, who is on paid leave from his sheriff’s job, is prohibited from contacting numerous Strafford County employees, including several members of the sheriff’s office staff.

The only minor change in his bail was Brave has moved out of his Schooner Drive home in Dover, and he will be allowed to leave the state when he drives his daughter to a private school in Lawrence, Mass.

“I’m a single dad,” Brave said in court.

Selling the Schooner Drive home is key to Brave’s legal defense. He said this week he plans to use the sale proceeds to hire an attorney. The home was listed on real estate websites for $1.1 million, with indications that a sale is pending.

It has been a steep fall from grace for Brave, once a rising star in the New Hampshire Democratic Party. Brave, the first African American elected sheriff in state history, had backing from the party’s mainstream and progressives in the Black Lives Matter movement.

His endorsement in the Democratic primary race for governor was a big enough get that Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington (D-District 2) put his backing on her website. The campaign later removed his name without comment.

The criminal probe into Brave came to light because he started talking to the press. In June, he disclosed the existence of the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit investigation and used the opportunity to preemptively deny the allegations. He also accused Strafford County Commissioners George Maglaras, Robert Watson, and Deanna Rollo of creating the accusation as a game of dirty politics. Maglaras, Watson, and Rollo are all elected Democrats. 

As the investigation was heating up behind the scenes, Brave went to the press again and accused Maglaras of racism. According to Brave, Maglaras called him a “token.”

In fact, County Administrator Ray Bowers went to County Attorney Tom Velardi this spring when he found suspicious purchases Brave made with his county-issued credit card, according to records made public in the investigation. Verladi did not investigate Brave due to the potential conflict of interest but instead contacted the attorney general.

According to the affidavit written by New Hampshire Attorney General Investigator Allison Vachon, Brave repeatedly used his position and public money to fund his romantic trysts. There were plane trips, hotel stays, meals, and even a family vacation to Great Wolf Lodge, though it is not clear if the Great Wolf Lodge weekend was with his family or the family of a woman he was dating. 

County officials had been concerned about Brave’s spending outpacing his budget for months when an audit found Brave had “maxed out” his county credit card. According to Vachon’s affidavit, the audit also turned up suspicious receipts for an August 2022 trip to Fort Lauderdale.

While Brave would give Bowers and, later, investigators multiple rationales for the Florida trip, it turned out to be an excursion with female Strafford County Sheriff’s Office employee Freezenia Veras.

Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave created a new position in his department for employee Freezenia Veras.

Brave hired Veras for a new position he created just for her in March 2022. Veras’ new title as chief of support services/public information officer didn’t come with a job description, but it did come with a $79,000-a-year salary. Those wages made Veras higher paid than the certified deputies in the office, the ones qualified to engage in law enforcement. Brave would eventually have Veras sworn in as a special deputy, giving her the power to arrest people.

Veras would eventually tell Vachon she and Brave went to Florida to research her new job with other law enforcement agencies. Veras told investigators Brave claimed the meetings were canceled at the last minute, and she spent her time shopping and hanging out by the hotel pool, the affidavit stated.

Brave allegedly used taxpayer funds for trips with multiple women, and then repeatedly lied about it, the affidavit stated. He is charged with eight felonies, including theft, perjury, and falsifying evidence for stealing at least $19,000 from the county. Brave could be sentenced to up to 64 years in prison if convicted on all counts. 

Brave remains Strafford County Sheriff, at least until the next election. He is currently on paid leave from his job. Veras no longer works for the sheriff’s office.

ANALYSIS: AG Schools Warmington Over Clueless PragerU Complaint

Don’t worry, Ronald McDonald: “Hamburger University” is safe from Cinde Warmington — for now.

It’s no surprise that Executive Councilor Warmington, a progressive Democrat seeking her party’s nomination for governor, isn’t a fan of PragerU. Founded by conservative radio talk host Dennis Prager, PragerU generates short, educational videos on a variety of topics — some overtly political, others basic life skills.

The PragerU content under consideration by the state Board of Education consists of several short videos and coursework covering lessons on basic personal finances, from how paychecks work, how checking and savings accounts work, how to get a loan, and how to invest for retirement. 

What PragerU doesn’t do — and has never claimed to do — is hand out college diplomas. There is literally a message on its website that reads, “No, PragerU is not an accredited university, nor do we claim to be. We do not offer degrees. However, we are the most accessible and influential online resource for explaining the concepts that have made America great.”

But that didn’t stop Warmington from demanding an Attorney General investigation into PragerU, claiming it is attempting to defraud people fooled by the “U.” You know, like those tricky people who run ESPNU (your cable TV home for college sports!).

And, she claimed, she’d found a New Hampshire law the education nonprofit was violating by calling itself PragerU.

Unfortunately for Warmington, the law she cited applies to businesses incorporated in New Hampshire (PragerU is not) that are using terms like “college” or “university” in ways “tending to designate that it is an institution of higher learning” (it’s not), or somehow “invoke the consumer protection rationale” (as the AG put it) of the statute.

By the way, Warmington is a lawyer. Maybe she’s angry because she got hoodwinked by the Jethro Bodine School for Lawyerin’?

As the Attorney General’s office said in a statement Monday: “After reviewing the statute, the AGO does not read RSA 292:8-g to require nondomestic entities that merely have a presence in New Hampshire through the existence of a website to incorporate under the provisions of RSA 292:8.”

In other words, Councilor Warmington literally didn’t know what she was talking about when she demanded the investigation.

Which, by the way, is great news for College Motors and University Donuts — not to mention the Electoral College which, coincidentally, many progressives would like to shut down as well.

There is a strong case to be made that pursuing content from PragerU is a political miscalculation by Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut and the state Board of Education. Given the current state of the media, it’s hardly a surprise that leftwing outlets were willing to pile on with Warmington’s uninformed complaints, taking them seriously. PragerU is an openly conservative content provider. In the current political climate “conservative” and “controversial” are synonyms, regardless of the facts.

Is it true that the same people attacking PragerU’s completely non-political lessons on personal finance also embrace the blatant racism of Ibram X. Kendi for public school classrooms? Yes. Is it true that media outlets who knew — or should have known — this was a ridiculous ploy by Warmington played along and pretended it was legit? Of course they did.

But those are the political realities of the moment.

Hilariously, Warmington stuck with her bogus claims in response to the AG’s dismissal of her complaint.

“I’m disappointed with the Attorney General’s failure to protect the public from Prager University’s [sic] clearly misleading name,” Warmington said, intentionally misleading voters by using a fake name for “PragerU.”

Warmington is a smart enough political operative to seize an issue like this, real or imagined, and use it for political gain. But why did she make ridiculous, fact-free claims about fraud and breaking the law? Isn’t “I oppose all content to the right of MSNBC” enough?

Did Warmington, an attorney, simply not understand the law she was citing? Or did she understand but, in the cause of political opportunism, simply not care? Either way, Granite Staters have learned something about what kind of governor Warmington would be.

And they didn’t need a college degree to figure it out.

Despite Criminal Investigation, Warmington Keeps Sheriff Brave on Campaign Team

Add gubernatorial candidate Cinde Warmington to the list of Granite State political candidates with ‘endorsement trouble’ in the 2024 election cycle.

The Democratic Executive Councilor has posted a list of endorsements from elected officials. Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave is among them. He is currently the subject of a criminal investigation for allegedly abusing his office. The charge is just the latest scandal to dog the Democrat sheriff.

Cinde Warmington, who hopes to beat outgoing Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, made a splash this month by announcing endorsements from more than 100 Democrats across the state. That included the shout-out she got from Brave.

Warmington did not respond to questions about Brave’s endorsement that appears on her website, and his name was still on the page late Thursday night.

According to a letter from New Hampshire Senior Assistant Attorney General Dan Jimenez, Brave is being investigated for theft, falsification in official matters, and abuse of office. Jimenez’s letter did not provide details about the allegations. 

Brave went public with the investigation this week, telling Foster’s Daily Democrat he was being accused of using public money to take a female employee who is not his wife to Florida. Brave also revealed the attorney general is looking at whether or not public money was used for the woman’s housing expenses.

Brave denied all of the accusations, dismissing them as politically motivated. He blamed Strafford County Commission members for targeting him, even though all three — Deanna Rollo, Bob Watson, and George Maglaras — are fellow Democrats.

None of the commissioners have publicly endorsed Warmington.

Endorsements are generating plenty of drama in New Hamshire politics this cycle. When Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign listed the names of several Republican legislators who had previously endorsed former President Donald Trump, it set off a series of tit-for-tat reactions, including one state representative claiming she was endorsing both candidates.

On Tuesday, the Trump campaign released a list of town captains that included conspiracy theory proponent and anti-vaccination activist Terese Grinnell Bastarache. A day earlier, Bastarache was awaiting trial on charges of criminally disrupting an Executive Council meeting as part of an anti-Covid-vaccine protest.

The charges were dropped late Monday.

 

NHDem Establishment Backs Craig in Gov Race, But Warmington Holds Steady

When Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig announced her plans to run for governor Monday morning, she already had the backing of some of the biggest names in the Democratic establishment. In addition to forming an exploratory committee for a 2024 race, Craig also released a “who’s who” list of party insiders and activists to head her committee, including:

Former four-term moderate Gov. John Lynch, 2018 gubernatorial nominee and former state Sen. Molly Kelly, current state Sens. Lou D’Allesandro and Kevin Cavanaugh (the latter a candidate to replace Craig as mayor), and former state party chair Kathy Sullivan.

 

 

That was enough political firepower to drive the Democrats’ 2022 candidate, former state Sen. Tom Sherman, out of the race.

But Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington tells NHJournal she’s not going anywhere.

“It’s very early. We are more than 18 months away from the election,” Warmington said in a statement.

Warmington, the lone Democrat on the Executive Council, is no stranger to being outnumbered. It’s well known that she is interested in running for governor. Will she get in the race?

“Right now, I’m focused on getting things done for the people of New Hampshire. There will be plenty of time for politics later,” she added.

Sources tell NHJournal that party insiders, including U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, have been working for weeks to clear the field for the Manchester mayor. And, in an unusual case of politics making strange bedfellows, Republicans are cheering the effort on.

Granite State Republicans believe Craig’s three terms as mayor of Manchester, with a steady stream of headlines about violent crime and out-of-control homelessness, would hurt the entire Democratic ticket with Craig at the top. GOP officials wasted no time getting their message out.

“Granite Staters have seen what Joyce Craig has done in Manchester and will not let ‘Craig’s Chaos’ spread to the rest of New Hampshire,” GOP state party chair Chris Ager said in a statement. “Craig has unequivocally failed Manchester during her time as mayor, and it is laughable that she wants to bring her disastrous policies to the corner office.”

Craig’s plan to run for governor was the worst-kept secret in New Hampshire politics. In her WMUR interview released early Monday morning, she took a swipe at incumbent Gov. Chris Sununu, who has yet to definitely declare whether he will seek another term.

“A consistent theme that I’m hearing throughout these conversations is that there’s a lack of support from the state level, and I know that we can do better,” Craig told WMUR’s Adam Sexton. “So, I’m really looking forward to getting out across the state and having conversations with residents and families about what matters most to them.”

The New Hampshire Democratic Party has had great success either avoiding primaries entirely or rallying around mainstream candidates and marginalizing their progressive opponents, as it did with former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand in 2018 and former Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky in 2020 — both defeated by more moderate candidates who then went on to lose to Sununu in the general.

Could they do the same with Craig — whose list of 73 supporters across all 10 counties includes former Republican state Rep. Charlene Lovett — and keep a more progressive Democrat from mounting a strong campaign?

Sherman, who lost badly to Sununu even as Democrat Joe Biden carried the state by eight percent, certainly got the point.

“It’s a lot of time, and I feel strongly it’s time for me to take a break. The great news is we have such a strong group of people coming up the ranks to fill that need,” Sherman said in a video statement.

Sherman’s surrender was applauded on Twitter by New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley.

“As I said on election night, you should be proud of your campaign for governor – you beat Sununu in every debate!” Buckley tweeted.

Sherman’s debate victories aside, Sununu won the race with 57 percent of the vote to Sherman’s 41 percent.

UNH Political Science Professor Dante Scala said while Craig has a fundraising and organizational advantage, it is unlikely the New Hampshire Democratic Party will be able to keep other candidates from entering the race. The prospect of Sununu’s departure would be too much of a lure.

“The more talk that Sununu will not run again, the more likely it is that other Democrats will take a close look at a race for an open seat,” Scala said.

Assuming Sununu doesn’t seek a record fifth term as governor, his fellow Republicans, former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, state Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, and former state Senate President Chuck Morse are all widely believed to be seriously considering entering the race.

Meanwhile, Granite State Republicans are gearing up for a Craig candidacy.

“I’ve already got my bumper sticker ready,” said GOP strategist Pat Griffin. “‘Joyce Craig for Governor: She’ll do to New Hampshire What She Did to Manchester.'”