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Court Tosses Progressive Challenge to State’s New Voter Integrity Law

A New Hampshire judge tossed a lawsuit from progressive organizations challenging the state’s new “affidavit ballot” law, designed to prevent voter fraud by ensuring every voter provides ID.

As soon as Gov. Chris Sununu signed the new law, known as SB418, last year, partisan organizations like 603Forward, Open Democracy Action, the ACLU, and several progressive activists filed suit. They were represented by former Hillary Clinton campaign attorney Marc Elias, best known for his role in the now-debunked “Russia Collusion” dossier scandal.

Hillsborough Superior Court Judge Charles Temple ruled Friday none of the organizations or individuals challenging the law have a case.

Under the new law, voters who register on Election Day without state-required ID are given an affidavit ballot, which is not counted until their identity is verified. The voters are also given a packet of information, including a prepaid overnight envelope, in order to assist them in proving their identity.

Rep. Ross Berry (R-Manchester), chair of the House Election Law Committee, said the court made the right call.

“The court’s dismissal of these lawsuits is a resounding victory for common sense protections of our democratic process,” Berry told NHJournal. “Before SB418, any person could walk into any voting location on Election Day, register to vote without producing any ID or proof of residency, and be handed a ballot. This system was ripe for abuse — and we know it was abused. For example. a former Democrat poll worker voted in the morning, went to his car, put on a wig, then registered as a woman, and cast a second ballot.”

New Hampshire Democrats have long opposed voter ID requirements, and all four members of the federal delegation have voted to let the federal government override states’ voter ID laws.

The plaintiffs, including former Rep. Manny Espitia and progressive activists Dan Weeks and Louise Spencer, argued the law misuses taxpayer money, forcing the Secretary of State’s Office to pay for the information packets, envelopes, and postage. Temple rejected their argument, writing that the state spending money on stamps does not equal a significant constitutional violation.

“These minimal expenditures bear little to no relationship to the merits of the plaintiffs’ claims,” Temple wrote.

Espitia declined to comment when reached by NHJournal.

Organizations like 603Forward tried claiming SB 418 was forcing them to engage in preparing new voters to deal with the law and diverting resources and funds they would have used for other purposes. Temple, again, did not buy that argument, writing the groups failed to identify any actual constitutional rights that were being denied because of SB 418. 

Lucas Meyers with 603Forward declined to comment. 

Chris Ager, chairman of the New Hampshire GOP, applauded the ruling, saying Granite Staters who want secure elections can rest easy.

“This decision is a big step forward in the ongoing effort to ensure the integrity of New Hampshire’s elections,” Ager said. “New Hampshire Republican legislators took the lead on this very important issue. I applaud the court’s decision to further secure our elections for all who cast a ballot. The vast majority of Americans and Granite Staters want voter ID and secure elections, and that’s what New Hampshire Republicans are delivering.”

Secretary of State Dave Scanlan, whose office was a defendant in the case, tried staying above the fray when reached for comment. 

“Judge Temple’s decision is clear and speaks for itself. We have no additional comment,” Scanlan said.

The SB 418 lawsuit is open to appeals, and it is not yet known if the plaintiffs will bring their case to the state Supreme Court or if they will file a motion asking Temple to reconsider his decision first.

Dartmouth Dem ‘Influencer’ Settles Lawsuit Over Rape Allegations

Progressive social media star and former Dartmouth College student Jack Cocchiarella is settling the lawsuit he brought against one-time classmate Nathan Kim over allegations that Cocchiarella was a serial rapist. 

Lawyers for Cocchiarella and Kim informed the United States District Court in Concord last month they had reached an agreement through mediation sessions in December. The sides now have until Jan. 20 to file the settlement agreement in the federal court, which would include a stipulation that the case be dismissed.

The lawsuit accused Kim of spreading stories online that Cocchiarella raped and sexually assaulted women while he was a student at the Ivy League school. Cocchiarella has denied all accusations of sexual impropriety.

Cocchiarella claims Kim started an online harassment campaign using anonymous accounts on various social media platforms accusing Cocchiarella of rape.

“Kim individually and in concert with others has continued to propagate and publish the false statements and lies that Jack is a ‘rapist,’ ‘raped his classmates,’ ‘raped 6 women,’ ‘raped 8 women,’ ‘raped unconscious girls,’ and is ‘getting away with rape,’” the lawsuit stated.

The negative attention stirred by Kim’s posts threatened Cocchiarella’s lucrative political work, tarnished his reputation as he transfers to Columbia University, and even caused threats according to the lawsuit.

“To this day, Jack lives in fear for his life and safety as a result of the false statements and lies being spread by Kim,” the lawsuit states.

Cocchiarella’s attorney, Susan Stone, told NH Journal in August her client is innocent of any sexual violence.

“To be clear, Jack has never been accused of sexual assault and he has never been subject of a criminal or Title IX campus investigation,” Stone wrote in a letter to NH Journal. “He vehemently denies that he was subject to those allegations.”

The lawsuit claimed Kim’s harassment started after Cocchiarella confronted Congressman Madison Cawthorn when the North Carolina Republican appeared at Dartmouth College along with congressional candidate Karoline Leavitt.

Cocchiarella’s video of his confrontation with Cawthorn went viral and helped propel the student into a progressive influencer. Cocchiarella used his online fame to get high-profile political consulting jobs with Democrats like Florida’s Charlie Crist and Georgia’s Marcus Flowers.

According to a report in the Free Beacon, Crist’s campaign paid Cocchiarella’s consulting firm $2,250 for digital consulting. It got another $40,000 from the Flowers campaign. 

Cocchiarella also appeared on a YouTube television show for the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump political action committee founded by alleged sexual predator John Weaver. Cocchiarella was on the show to plug his own political podcast, Zoomed In.

Accusations against Cocchiarella came to light in August, when NHJournal spoke to one woman who claimed to have been harassed by the rising political star. The woman said Cocchiarella sexually harassed her and inappropriately touched her, earning Cocchiarella a letter from Dartmouth’s Title IX Office laying out a disciplinary course of action, and threatening further sanctions if Cocchiarella did not comply. The copy obtained by NHJournal included Cocchiarella’s apparent signature.

His behavior deteriorated over the course of a few weeks into stalking-type behavior and included unwanted touching, she said.

“What was scary is he said a lot of really misogynistic things,” she said.

The woman said Cocchiarella used his reputation as a progressive, feminist-ally in order to get close. At the same time, his actions frightened her, she said.

“How does he have this platform as a feminist?” she asked.

While NHJournal was reporting the story in August, the Dartmouth College Democrats Twitter account published a tweet claiming Cocchiarella was kicked out of the club in 2021 when several allegations became known on campus. The club later deleted that tweet, but a source familiar with the matter confirmed Cocchiarella had been expelled from the club over the allegations.

The club later published a follow-up disavowing any use of the tweet about Cocchiarella.

Cocchiarella has denied all wrongdoing and further claims he has never been investigated by Dartmouth’s Title IX Office.


Wife of Dem Strafford Sheriff Busted for DUI

Jamie Brave, the wife of progressive Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave, is in trouble with the law after she was arrested this weekend for driving drunk. 

Jamie Brave, 44, was stopped in the early morning hours on Saturday as part of a New Hampshire State Police saturation patrol of the Portsmouth area, according to a State Police release. Jamie Brave was one of 11 people charged during the special operation, and she is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

Neither Jamie nor Mark Brave responded to a request for comment.

Mark Brave (D-Dover) became the first Black sheriff elected in New Hampshire’s history when he beat Republican Paul Callaghan in 2020.

As a candidate, Mark Brave told Seacoast Online when he was elected that his top three priorities were “open the dialogue with the community and the social services the office can help provide; increase transparency through things like implementing body-worn cameras for the office’s civil unit, which he’d then use as a community response team to support local school resource officers; and community policing efforts.”

Brave also signed a list of demands created by the Seacoast chapter of Black Lives Matter regarding policing policy. Among the demands are:

  • No more school resource police officers.
  • Banning the possible use of tear gas.
  • Government monitoring of police officers’ personal Facebook, Instagram and other social media accounts for “threatening or potentially violent posts.”
  • Ending qualified immunity, stripping police of protection from lawsuits.

However, Brave said he did not support all of the demands on the list. He has said he does not support removing police from schools — he would like the sheriff’s office to help small towns add their first school resource officers — and he only wants qualified immunity “reexamined,” not eliminated.

And the new sheriff did not want to end the controversial practice of transporting people detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and holding them at the county jail.

According to the Rochester Voice, the specific location and circumstances of Jaime Brave’s arrest were not disclosed by State Police.

The high-visibility DUI patrols, comprising NHSP Troop A Barracks, the New Hampshire State Police Special Enforcement Unit, and Portsmouth Police Officers, were conducted Friday night into Saturday morning. Such patrols are typically announced to the public and local law enforcement in advance.