Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Of the 33 Senate races taking place across the country this year, there are few whose outcome is as unpredictable right now as New Hampshire's. There are currently 4 major Republicans and 1 Democrat (Congressman Paul Hodes) running for an open Senate seat in this, a state that has voted both 'red' and 'blue' in recent elections. The danger is that in freedom-loving New Hampshire, this combination of candidates - and the support of the national GOP establishment in Washington, DC - could propel former NH Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, perhaps the most dangerous, pro-police-state politician the state has seen in decades, to front-runner status.
Anyone who has watched television in New Hampshire over the last few weeks has seen the barrage of Ayotte ads, each with the same theme: Ayotte put criminals behind bars. All but one of her ads features a uniformed police officer, and her latest shamelessly lauds her prosecution of the man guilty of killing Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs.
But it is her other activities as the Granite State's Attorney General that should bring one to pause, if not shudder, for what she would bring to the legislative table. On a consistent basis, AG Ayotte testified before the state legislature to curtail civil liberties and protect the power of the police state. Four important examples:
1) The most egregious must be her abject lies about Medical Marijuana, delivered at last year's legislative debate.
"In fact, marijuana is an addictive drug that poses significant health consequences to its users, including those who may be using it for medical purposes...The use of smoked marijuana is opposed by all credible medical groups nationwide."
In fact, several major national medical groups have taken positive views of medical cannabis, including the American Academy of Physicians, the American Nurses Association and the American Public Health Association. In a 2001 report, even the American Medical Association noted that marijuana helped those suffering from certain ailments including HIV wasting syndrome and chemotherapy-induced nausea.
It is too bad she didn't consider the testimony of Fremont, NH resident Dennis Acton:
"...I am a cancer survivor and successfully used marijuana to treat severe nausea when my $1600 prescription didn't work. I testified along with many others at the Senate HHS Subcommittee hearing back in April. After the senate passed it, we were able to set up a meeting with the Governor. He was "unavailable" so he sent two policy advisors. About 20 of use showed up for this meeting and told our stories. … I really wish the Gov. could have been there to hear these moving stories. I wish other people like AG Kelly Ayotte... and others who dismiss the medicinal properties of marijuana (based on ignorance rather than science) could have heard this as well.
The bottom line is that terminally or severely ill people want to use marijuana to ease symptoms and to avoid becoming addicted to expensive and harmful opiate based drugs. It is just inconceivable that drugs like Oxycontin are readily available and are being abused terribly while marijuana is outlawed..."
Both the House and Senate adopted a medical marijuana bill, but the Senate lacked the votes to override the Governor's veto...a veto that relied, in part, on Ayotte's disgraceful testimony.
2) A second area is her continued opposition to permitting videotaping of police actions.
In 2009, House Bill 312 was submitted, simply permitting the recording (on a cell phone or other device) police activity. For years, police indiscretions have been brought to light through citizen vigilence (Even parking garages have video cameras these days!) The Bill was bipartisan, sponsored by 3 Democrats (Joel Winters, Susi Nord, and Maureen Mann) and 2 Republicans (Neal Kurk and Jenn Coffey), and passed the Democratically-controlled House.
Ayotte opposed the bill, likening the procedure to illegal wiretapping, and it died in the Senate.
3) In New Hampshire, "...Jury nullification is the undisputed power of the jury to acquit, even if its verdict is contrary to the law as given by the judge and contrary to the evidence." (State v. Hokanson, 140 N.H. at 721B906, cited in State of NH v Sanchez). This undisputed power is a check on a rule-oriented legal system that could result in terrible miscarriages of justice. And yet, when HB 906 was filed in 2007, simply requiring that jurors be informed of their existing, "undisputed" rights, Ayotte testified against the bill.
4)On two seperate occasions, Ayotte urged Governor Lynch to veto bills (2006 SB318 and 2009 HB160) that would establish the "Castle Doctrine" in New Hampshire. The Castle Doctrine gives a crime victim the right to use force when attacked when that victim is legally in a place where they have a right to be. Instead, Ayotte has supported the notion that a potential victim has a duty to retreat, rather than defend themselves...cold comfort to a woman walking home late at night and confronted in a dark street, or someone in a wheelchair, or a nightclub patron being surrounded by a group of thugs out to bash someone for fun.
Of course, this is also the Attorney General who advocated for the requirement that picture IDs be produced simply to purchase cough medicine...
Kelly Ayotte has spent her life enhancing and enlarging the power of the State and its Police and enforcement mechanisms as against its citizens. Having garnered the support of the GOP establishmentm, it is now no surprise that as the GOP primary nears, she is tripping over herself to embrace anti-immigration extremism, 14th-Amendment repeal nonsense, Sarah Palin, and the far-right elements that she needs to capture the nod.
But for anyone - Republican, Independent, or Democrat - who values New Hampshire's libertarian way of life, this candidate MUST be defeated. She does not, and must not, represent the people of New Hampshire.