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AG detailed Merner’s inconsistent claims about residency in email to top State House administrator

Seats in the New Hampshire House of Representatives
Dan Tuohy
/
NHPR
The 400-member House chamber in the New Hampshire State House.

An email a state prosecutor sent to a top legislative administrator details former state Rep. Troy Merner’s inconsistent statements about his residency. It also reveals the skepticism prosecutors had about Merner’s explanations in the face of evidence he no longer lived in the district he’d been elected to represent.

This email, obtained by NHPR through a public records request, details the state’s efforts to inform top Republican leaders about its investigation into Merner nearly a year before he resigned under pressure.

The Dec. 6, 2022 email was sent by Deputy General Counsel Myles Matteson to Terry Pfaff, the Legislature’s chief operating officer. It includes a complaint prosecutors were “reviewing,” alleging Merner had moved from Lancaster to Carroll, and “facts” a state investigator found.

Matteson wrote that Merner, a 63-year-old Republican, denied living in Carroll full-time, but he was “not consistent in describing where he had been residing.”

The email stated Merner had sold his house in Lancaster in August 2022. While Merner said he spent “some nights” in a Lancaster office he rented, he didn’t provide details to back up his claim, and his landlord said he didn’t live there.

The email also says Merner told an investigator he was “‘in transition” and “looking to move back to Lancaster with his wife.”

When asked about his driver’s license, which still listed his home address as the property he sold that August, Merner said that he had not yet updated his information, and that he had a PO Box in Lancaster.

“When the investigator informed him that he can’t live at a PO Box, he responded that he hasn’t gotten around to it because ‘he is a guy,’” Matteson wrote.

Merner was arrested last month for improperly voting in Lancaster's 2023 town election while living in Carroll, and for filing false mileage reimbursements for travel to the State House from his previous residence.

Merner held on to his legislative seat in the narrowly divided State House for the entire 2023 session, voting on dozens of bills, while prosecutors charge he was living outside the district he was elected to serve. Some Democrats have called for a probe into the Attorney General’s handling of the investigation, which took more than six months to complete, as well as top House Republicans’ failure to push Merner to resign earlier.

The Department of Justice has declined to say why Speaker Sherman Packard, the top elected official in the House, wasn’t notified directly about their findings earlier.

In recent weeks, and in a statement to NHPR on Friday, Packard has defended how his office handled Merner’s situation.

“The Speaker’s Office appropriately waited until the conclusion of that investigation,” Packard said in the statement. “Once it was determined that Troy Merner did not live in his district, he was told to resign immediately.”

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.

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