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Feds sanction former Nottingham lawmaker, who was also a VA employee, for Hatch Act violations

Representatives Hall before the New Hampshire House of Representatives convenes. Dan Tuohy photo 2022 / NHPR
Dan Tuohy
Representatives Hall before the New Hampshire House of Representatives convenes. Dan Tuohy photo 2022 / NHPR

A former state lawmaker who resigned in April, citing health reasons, has been found in violation of a federal law that prohibits federal employees from holding partisan political office.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel announced that former Rep. Benjamin Bartlett, who was serving in his first term as a Republican representing Nottingham, violated the Hatch Act, a federal law that generally prohibits federal employees from running for or holding partisan elected offices. During his short term at the State House, Bartlett simultaneously held a position at the Veterans Administration.

In a settlement notice published in late October, the office said Bartlett admitted to violating the Hatch Act, stepped down from elected office “in response to OSC's enforcement efforts,” and was given a 15-day unpaid suspension. The special counsel’s office noted that Bartlett also accepted political contributions, in violation of the law.

Bartlett cast a single roll call vote during his tenure in the House; attendance records list him as absent from all other sessions, citing illness. In April, he told the New Hampshire Bulletin that he had been approached by House leadership about his poor attendance, triggering his decision to resign.

He didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In a Sept. 19 special election held to fill Bartlett’s seat, Democrat Hal Rafter defeated Republican James Guzofski, flipping the seat in a Legislature with a razor thin majority currently held by the GOP.

Bartlett is currently chair of the select board in Nottingham, a nonpartisan position. The VA confirmed he remains employed at a VA facility in Bedford, Massachusetts.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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