inside sources print logo
Get up to date New Hampshire news in your inbox

NH Dem Rep Defends Alleged Stalker: ‘She’s Basically a Good Person’

With control of the New Hampshire House just two seats from their grasp and the recounts going their way, state Democrats are staying silent on the behavior of Nashua Rep. Stacie Laughton, a repeat offender who was arrested over the weekend in a domestic violence-related stalking case. 

Laughton, New Hampshire’s first transgender elected official, spent the weekend at Valley Street Jail after she was arrested for allegedly violating a domestic violence order by stalking another person. Hudson police did not provide details about the misdemeanor charges when contacted this week, out of a desire to protect the identity of the alleged victim.

Democrats, who claim to be advocates for victims of domestic violence, have refused to respond to repeated requests for comment about Laughton’s case or condemn her actions. Some Republicans have compared it to state Sen. Jeff Woodburn, who was charged (and eventually convicted) of assaulting his girlfriend in 2018 yet faced little opposition from Democratic leadership in his primary and general elections. Woodburn won the primary but lost the general to obscure GOP newcomer David Starr.

Woodburn was eventually convicted and sentenced to 60 days in jail. Woodburn is appealing his conviction.

Laughton is charged with stalking a woman in violation of a civil restraining order, according to Hudson police. Laughton, and her spouse, were unavailable for comment about the arrest.

At least one House Democrat came to Laughton’s defense on Twitter. Rep. Timothy Horrigan (D-Durham) likened the stalking charges to a victimless crime.

“She’s gotten into a lot of trouble over the years & she keeps getting into trouble, but she’s basically a good person,” Horrigan tweeted. “She’s not violent or abusive, or harmful to anyone other than herself.”

Former GOP state Rep. Kim Rice was taken aback by Horrigan’s stance.

“I don’t think the person she was stalking would feel the same way,” Rice responded. “I am thinking that person would definitely think they were harmed. I’m shocked sitting on the [House] Judiciary Committee you would even say this.”

And Laughton’s criminal history is far from victimless. She was convicted in 2008 of credit card fraud for stealing from a person in Laconia. In 2015, Laughton was charged with calling in a bomb threat at the Southern New Hampshire Medical Center hospital in Nashua. These charges were later dropped as Laughton claimed she was suffering from a mental health crisis at the time.

Last year, as a sitting state representative, Laughton was charged with several counts of sending false texts to the city’s 911 system. Laughton claimed she did not send the texts in question, and the state and city party did seemingly nothing about her continuing legal adventures.

The protective order Laughton violated was issued in July, months before both the September Democratic primaries and last week’s midterm elections. That meant state and local Democrats were aware of Laughton’s actions and could have taken action.

Horrigan did not respond to NHJournal’s request for comment.

New Hampshire’s Democratic State Party has also declined multiple requests for comment, as have local Nashua Democratic Party leaders.

New Hampshire has few rules when it comes to legislatures in legal trouble. Paul Smith, clerk of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, said the state has no mechanism to remove a lawmaker charged with a crime.

“There are no rules,” Smith said. “There is no automatic process for expulsion.”

NH Dems Silent After Nashua Rep. Laughton Arrested Yet Again

Nashua Democratic state Rep. Stacie Laughton is back in legal trouble, this time being held at Valley Street Jail in Manchester on stalking charges. 

Laughton, 38, was arrested over the weekend by Hudson police on charges she was stalking a resident in that town, according to a report from Patch. Court records show Laughton was already on bail after being charged with sending fake 911 texts to police. Those charges resulted from an investigation last year.

Last week’s midterm elections brought better-than-expected results for Democrats, and they have an outside chance of winning control of the state House. Republicans say that is one reason Democrats, in Nashua and in Concord, are silent about Laughton’s history of criminal behavior. 

Reps. Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) and Matt Wilhelm (D-Manchester) are locked in a race to lead the House Democratic Caucus. Both declined to respond to a request for comment about Laughton’s ongoing criminal prosecution.

Outgoing House Minority Leader Rep. David Cote (D-Nashua) also declined to comment on Laughton’s behavior, as did other Nashua Democrats NH Journal contacted regarding the matter. Rep. Michael Pedersen (D-Nashua), who serves as chair of the city’s Democratic Committee, did not respond to a request for comment, either.

Democrats may not be talking about Laughton’s latest arrest, but Nashua Republican Di Lothrop is fed up.

“She has a huge problem,” said Lothrop, co-chair of the Nashua Republican Committee. “She’s been through this before, she’s been in prison. Obviously, the lesson wasn’t learned.”

Laughton became the first transgender person elected to the New Hampshire Legislature in 2012, though she was quickly forced to resign when her criminal past became public. Laughton was sentenced to prison time in 2008 for a Laconia credit card fraud conviction. Laughton served a few months but was released on a 10-year suspended sentence.

Laughton was pressured to resign her House seat but signed up to run in the ensuing special election. That bid was cut short when it was deemed she was legally ineligible for office since she was still serving her suspended sentence for the felony credit card fraud case.

Under New Hampshire law, convicted felons may not vote or hold public office while they are serving their sentences. Once the sentence is discharged, however, people convicted of felonies may again vote and seek public office. The New Hampshire Constitution only states that people must reside in the district they are seeking to represent.

Laughton was charged with another crime in 2015 for allegedly calling in a bomb threat to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, an episode she later blamed on a mental health problem. That criminal case has since been closed.

Laughton’s political career restarted in 2019 when she was elected a Nashua Ward 4 selectman, and she won the House of Representatives seat in 2020.

 Lothrop blamed the city’s Democratic Party for promoting a person with clear mental health problems to represent voters. There is a good chance Laughton will still be in jail by the time state representatives gather in Concord for their swearing-in, she said.

“How can she dedicate her time and energy to the voters who she is supposed to represent? She’s unfit,” Lothrop said. “It’s abominable, and it’s an embarrassment to Nashua to have her go up to Concord and represent [the city.]”

Chris Ager, chairman of the Hillsborough County GOP, said any decision on Laughton’s status needs to be made by House leadership.

“This is a very serious matter that must be looked into with respect to actions the leadership of the House of Representatives can take,” Ager said.

With New Hampshire’s open qualifications for office, Ager said both parties have a responsibility to provide some oversight on who is running for office on their respective tickets. However, there is only so much a party can do, he added.

“There is some responsibility for the party, but ultimately the voters of the district elect the person,” Ager said.