This should come as no surprise to those of you who are cataloging all of the unsavory moves by Democrats in the House and Senate.
At the last meeting of the Joint Fiscal Committee, Democrats voted unanimously to cut the amount of money requested by the Attorney General’s Office for their litigation fund. Why? Because they don’t like the fact that the Department of Justice is defending the state and its laws against court challenges dealing with election integrity.
That’s right. The Attorney General has the constitutional duty to defend the state and it’s laws, including, but not limited to those laws passed by previous legislatures, including election laws enacted by SB3 and HB1264, both of which sought to create a better environment for fair and secure elections in New Hampshire.
Democrats sought to starve the department to diminish the defense of the State. Unbelievable.
In a scathing memo included in the meeting documents, Attorney General Gordon MacDonald said the following (emphasis added) about the actions of Rep. Mary Jane Wallner (D-Concord), and other Democrat members of the committee:
By a vote of 7-3, the Committee amended the Item to reduce the appropriation to $300,000. The amended Item was then approved by the Committee, again by a vote of 7-3. During consideration of the Item, questioning focused on this Department’s conduct in defending two cases brought against the State: League of Women Voters of New Hampshire and New Hampshire Democratic Party v. Gardner and Casey and New Hampshire Democratic Party v. Gardner, et al. At issue in the former case is the constitutionality of a law known as Senate Bill 3, and at issue in the latter case is the constitutionality of a law known as House Bill 1264. Both cases continue to be actively litigated. Following the hearing, the media quoted a statement from Committee Chair Mary Jane Wallner that the Committee “voted to cease funding for two cases which put the voting rights of Granite Staters in jeopardy.”
To this Department’s knowledge, the Committee’s action marks the first time that a request from the Department seeking appropriations for its litigation fund had been rejected. It is also, to our knowledge, the first time that the Legislature has suggested eliminating support for cases being actively defended on behalf of the State by the Department.
Senate Bill 3 and House Bill 1264 are duly enacted laws of the State of New Hampshire. In the last legislative session, bills to repeal these laws failed over the Governor’s veto. Under our Constitution, the repeal effort and the fact that a majority of the General Court may have supported repeal does not diminish the force and effect of these laws. Simply put, they are the laws of the State.
Any suggestion that a majority of a legislative body could direct, control or otherwise interfere with the conduct of litigation would raise serious concerns. One can easily imagine legislators who might disagree with a decision to prosecute a crime, investigate a public official, or to take an action that might be adverse to a particular constituency. It is essential to the administration of justice and the protection of the public that this Department is able to discharge its constitutional and legal duties without such an incursion.
The New Hampshire Department of Justice has a proud record of defending New Hampshire law. The above-described events and Representative Wallner’s statement appear intended to encroach on the authority of the executive branch and undermine the Attorney General’s duty to defend legislative acts. This Department will meet its constitutional obligations and will continue to defend legislative acts, including Senate Bill 3 and House Bill 1264. In doing so, we will endeavor, as always, to be prudent stewards of public funds.
This November, electing a Republican majority to the NH House (and Senate) will ensure a Republican majority on the Joint Fiscal Committee, and an end to these dangerous budgetary actions and interference with executive branch duties.
DONATE $10 / $25 / $50 today to help Republicans win.DONATE $10 / $25 / $50 today to help us replace Rep. Mary Jane Wallneras chairman of the Joint Fiscal Committee.DONATE $10 / $25 / $50 today to help get politics out of the Joint Fiscal Committee.