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Court Docs: Spofford’s Disgruntled Ex Gave NHPR Abuse Story

When New Hampshire Public Radio reported former Granite Recover CEO Eric Spofford, a political ally of Gov. Chris Sununu, engaged in a pattern of sexual abuse and harassment, it created political shockwaves.

But what the public news outlet didn’t report is that it allegedly relied heavily on a single source: Spofford’s ex, Amy Anagnost.

According to new documents filed in the Rockingham Superior Court, Anagnost was supplying NHPR with the material while she was engaged in an ugly custody battle with Spofford. Those records also show Anagnost threatened her current husband with the same treatment Spofford got.

NHPR, for its part, denies Amy Anagnost was a source for the story.

“NHPR’s reporting about Eric Spofford is based on sources identified in the story, none of whom are Amy Anagnost,” said Jayme Simoes, NHPR’s communications consultant.

Spofford, who has denied all wrongdoing, is currently suing NHPR for defamation. The taxpayer-subsidized news outlet is seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed. But Spofford’s attorney, Michael Strauss, wrote in his objection to the motion to dismiss that new evidence showing Anagnost was the main source for the story strengthens the complaint that NHPR acted recklessly when reporting the story.

“Eric has uncovered that Amy both supplied her own false claims about him to (NHPR reporter Lauren) Chooljian and served as a source clearinghouse for Chooljian as she investigated and wrote the article and podcast. The NHPR defendants relied on Amy and the sources she cherry-picked for Chooljian, despite her obvious unreliability (after years of long-term recovery from alcoholism and addiction, she has relapsed, and that relapse occurred at or around when she started as a source for the NHPR defendants) and notwithstanding her known and unmistakable bias against and ill-will toward Eric as reflected in publicly available records,” Strauss wrote.

Amy Anagnost is involved in a contested divorce with her current husband, Alex Anagnost, son of real estate developer Dick Anagnost. According to documents filed in that proceeding, Amy Anagnost falsely claimed she had nothing to do with the NHPR reporting on Spofford.

“A recent court filing by Amy’s soon-to-be ex-husband, Alex Anagnost, confirms that Amy ‘fed questionable information about her relationship with Eric to’ Chooljian for inclusion in the Article and Podcast, which Amy then used against Eric to alienate him from their son and as a weapon in their parenting dispute,” Strauss writes.

Evidence uncovered by Alex Anagnost includes numerous text messages between Chooljian and Amy Anagnost, according to Strauss.

“Amy’s own text messages reveal that she has helped steer Chooljian’s investigation ‘[s]ince [Chooljian] started the article.’  And because of their work together, Chooljian and Amy formed a close bond, which clouded Chooljian’s judgment and neutrality—an affront to the proper ethical boundaries between a reporter and her source,” Strauss wrote.

One text from Amy Anagnost describes Chooljian as a “G”, which Strauss writes is slang for “Gangster.”

“Implying that she and Chooljian’s relationship is rooted in a loyalty and common devotion to destroying Eric,” he wrote.

Contacted by NH Journal, Amy Anagnost continued to deny she acted as a source for NHPR.

“I was never a source for the article, but thank you,” she said.

When asked about the court documents that named her as a source, Amy Anagnost continued to deny her involvement.

“I don’t believe you have any documentation that says anything because I wasn’t a source,” she said.

Strauss declined to comment on the court filings and Amy Anagnost’s denials when contacted this week.

“This is a matter for the courts. We will see what people say when they have to produce documents and testify under oath,” Strauss said.

Amy Anagnost has been open about her addiction to alcohol and opioids in the past, but while she was Chooljian’s source she was publicly drinking and posting about her exploits on social media, according to court records. Once the NHPR story was published she reportedly used it in family court proceedings against Spofford, according to Strauss’s motion. She also tried to get her son to read the NHPR stories to alienate him from his father, according to court records in the Alex Anagnost case.

Amy Anagnost also allegedly threatened to spread stories about her husband during an angry confrontation with Dick Anagnost, according to court records.

“When Amy met with Dick to discuss her alcoholism, she told him that she would ‘get Alex like she got Eric,’ and that the Anagnost family ‘would all be sorry,’” one of the court Alex Anagnost documents states.

While NHPR had few sources on the record in the articles and podcasts about Spofford, Amy Anagnost was never mentioned in the reporting. According to the objection filed by NHPR’s attorney Sigmund Schutz, Spofford hasn’t proved that Amy Anagnost is the source behind the reporting. The text messages entered into the record, for example, are not authenticated, according to Schutz.

“The procedural problem is that the key document Spofford submits, an exchange of text messages is unauthenticated and unexplained. On its face, it does not even establish who the parties to the exchange are,” Schutz wrote. 

Even if the texts are genuine, Schutz writes, it does not disprove the stories about Spofford.

“Nothing in the texts suggests that NHPR acted with actual malice. They do not suggest that anything Anagnost may have said to Chooljian was false, that Anagnost encouraged anyone else to say anything to NHPR that was false, or that NHPR knew or suspected that anything it reported was false,” Schutz wrote.

NHPR is seeking to have the case dismissed on the grounds that as a public figure, Spofford cannot prove malice on the part of the public broadcaster.

“What Spofford’s complaint does not do is allege actual facts that could support a finding that Chooljian, or anyone else at NHPR, engaged in actionable defamation,” writes Schutz. “Because Spofford is a public figure, to plead a defamation claim he must allege not just that NHPR got the story wrong, but facts that, if proven, would demonstrate actual malice—meaning that the journalists in fact entertained serious doubts as to the truth of the story, or had a high degree of awareness of its probable falsity, but published it anyway.”

Spofford’s original complaint claims NHPR ignored on-the-record sources who contradicted the claims being made about sexual abuse. In one instance, one of the on-the-record sources, Piers Kaniuka, retracted his statements linking Spofford to the abuse. That retraction went unreported by NHPR, according to the lawsuit.

Spofford built a politically connected profile with Granite Recovery Centers. As the drug abuse recovery centers became the largest recovery facilities in New Hampshire, Spofford even counseled Sununu on the response to New Hampshire’s opioid epidemic.

Spofford sold Granite Recovery Centers to Bay Mark Health Services, a Texas-based treatment company last year. The sale price has not been disclosed.


Democrats and Teachers Want Edelblut Ousted Over ‘Activist’ Complaint

Democrats and the state’s biggest teachers union say Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut needs to be stopped after he called out “activist” teachers who he says undermine New Hampshire family values. 

Edelblut set off a firestorm when he drew attention to classroom materials and teacher assignments he says show there is a problem between teachers and families. Many families in New Hampshire feel their values are being undermined in the classroom, he told NH Journal.

“The actions of some educators, which have become increasingly apparent through social media as a result of the pandemic, are undermining the sacred trust that educators hold. Our education system needs that trust to exist,” he said.

Edelblut called out schools that are teaching woke ideology in New Hampshire classrooms. Edelblut published a 74-page document that shows teachers using materials from critical race theory activist Ibram X. Kendi, an article teaching students how to protest police, one asking students in middle school for their preferred pronouns as part of a math class orientation, and another teaching 4th graders there are multiple genders.

“Some people identify as a gender that is not male or female, some identify as more than one gender, and some people don’t identify as any gender,” states one lesson for 8- and 9-year-olds.

Concerned parents have been contacting Edelblut about the classes that he says are running against the long-held trust the parents have in teachers and schools.

“To be fair, most educators do not engage in such practices,” he said. “When you send children to school you are trusting the teachers not to undermine your values, and educators who do that run the risk of eroding that trust in all teachers.”

The teachers unions and their allies in the New Hampshire Democratic Party reacted by blasting Edelblut, saying he is targeting public education with the goal of undermining the system.

“Our commissioner has turned his clearly visible disdain for public education into a crusade not to remodel our schools, but to close them,” said Megan Tuttle, president of the NEA-NH, the state’s largest teacher’s union. “By continually destabilizing what was once a model for public education in America, he is hoping more and more parents will opt out of New Hampshire public schools and choose the private and religious ones he favors and funds so generously with our tax dollars”

House Minority Leader David Cote (D-Nashua) and Senate Minority Leader Donna Soucy, D-Manchester released a letter calling for Edelbut to be removed. They accused Edelblut of being more interested in furthering his political career than in educating New Hampshire’s children.

“Frank Edelblut does not put the best interests of New Hampshire children first. His goal is purely to enact an extreme, far-right agenda to further his own personal political ambitions, whatever they may be. He is playing games with the very futures of our children and it is simply unacceptable,” they wrote.

Florida’s Department of Education got headlines last week when it rejected 41 percent of math textbooks because they included lessons allegedly inspired by critical race theory or other controversial educational theories like “social-emotional learning.”

One math problem in a book rejected by Florida begins with the phrase “What? Me? Racist?” In another, a fifth-grade math textbook featured standard math problems with the phrase “How can you understand your feelings?”

“Math is about getting the right answer. It’s not about how you feel about the problem,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said last week.

Edelblut said he does not have the authority to stop schools from using any specific text.

“In New Hampshire, that’s a school board issue,” he said. “What happened in Florida would need to be done by a school board in New Hampshire.”

Instead, Edelblut is focusing on supporting most teachers who stick to teaching students free from ideology.

“We want to make sure the teachers have the training and skills to be effective in the classroom and not be undermined by educators who undermine the value systems of children and hurt parental trust of the system as a whole,” he said.

Tuttle has lashed out at Edelblut since he first published the document, saying she and the other NEA-NH members are happy to be considered activists. 

“If it’s ‘activist’ to believe we all deserve the right to live, learn, work, and thrive no matter our color, immigration status or sexual orientation and gender identities—no exceptions, then every one of our members is an activist teacher,” Tuttle said in a statement directed at Edelblut. “Politicians like you push rules that restrict our freedoms and do your best to try to divide us. You are very mistaken If you believe calling us activists is an insult.”




Progressive UNH Prof Gives Course Credit for Accusations of Racism

A UNH professor requires students to find someone to accuse of being racist, homophobic, or ableist and “call them out” in order to get credit for a communications class at the state-funded college.

Edward Reynolds, a communications professor and weight lifting coach, gained notoriety this week on social media when one of the requirements for his class hit the “Libs of TikTok” account. 

According to the course work posted online, Reynolds requires his students to record the interaction they have with the person they are “calling out” for alleged bigotry and submit the recording in order to get graded. 

Calling out, sometimes described as “calling in,” is when someone is confronted over ideas or statements that are deemed politically incorrect. Reynolds, who graduated from college in Australia, instructed students, as part of their graded coursework, to seek out people in their lives who they deem are engaging in racism, homophobia, or ableism, through their language or actions.

“Call in someone on their ableist, racist, or homophobic use of language, for microaggressions (or an act of racism) towards a person of color, homophobia against LGBTQI+, or ableism against a disabled person,” the course description states. “You must also record calling them in, in order to get credit.”

The potential problems are self-evident: People targeted by Reynolds’ students may object to being called racist or bigots. They might object to being recorded. There’s even the risk of a physical confrontation.

Reynolds claims in the course description that the recordings and the names of the people “called out/called in” will not be made public. But neither Reynolds nor anyone from UNH answered New Hampshire Journal’s questions about how that anonymity will be guaranteed.

Reynolds declined to respond to multiple requests for comments, as did the UNH media relations team.  Representatives for the University System of New Hampshire declined to answer questions about Reynolds’ coursework as well.

State Rep. Joe Alexander (R-Goffstown) called Reynolds’ class a “witch-hunt.”

“As far as I’m concerned the public has a right to know why tax dollars are being spent on student witch-hunts. Make no mistake, New Hampshire institutions of higher learning are not immune to the sort of ‘woke-ness’ that is prevalent in the swampiest parts of this country. The public needs answers,” Alexander said.

Manchester’s branch of the NAACP did not respond to questions on Thursday whether “calling out” furthers goals of reducing racism and fostering racial understanding. Former President Barak Obama recently pointed out that “call-outs” give the illusion of effecting change, even when that is not true. 

“If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right, or used the wrong word or verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself, because, ‘Man, you see how woke I was. I called you out.’ That’s not activism,” Obama said.

Karoline Leavitt, a candidate in the GOP primary for the 1st District Congressional seat, said Thursday that Reynolds’ course is a prime example of wokeism run amok.

“Let me be very clear – students should not be asked to accuse one another of racism,” Leavitt said. “Unfortunately, our teachers unions and educators have forgotten they work on behalf of the taxpayers, and our curriculum is failing our students.”

Gail Huff Brown, another GOP candidate, said Reynolds is out-of-touch.

“If one of my daughters had an assignment like this I would have been appalled and I suggest this professor get out of their academic bubble and visit the real world where the vast majority of us are friendly, tolerant, and welcoming of all people,” Huff Brown said.

Last year, New Hampshire’s legislature banned public employees from teaching that any person or group is superior or inferior based on their race, creed, or sexual identity. However, that law specifically excludes the state’s public college system. A proposal introduced this year, HB 1313, would apply the anti-discrimination law to New Hampshire colleges.