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N.H. Legislative Ethics Committee Chairman Sponsors Conflicts of Interest Bill

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Members of the legislative ethics committee are backing legislation to better define conflicts of interest for New Hampshire lawmakers.

The bill, HB1694, was filed in the wake of a warning the committee issued to the House's current Majority Leader.

Last year the legislative ethics committee found that House Majority Leader Doug Ley violated ethics guidelines by testifying and voting of several bills relevant to his work as paid president of the state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, a national education union.

Ley received no punishment, but was advised to stop testifying on his union's behalf before legislative committees and to cease from voting on bills his employer endorsed or opposed.

The committee looked into Ley's issue in response to a complaint filed by a political opponent who ran for Ley's seat in 2018.

As drafted, the new conflict of interest standard, which is being sponsored by ethics committee chairman Ned Gordon, would explicitly require lawmakers to recuse themselves from any bill where they or a household member has a special interest. It would also bar them from serving in an official capacity in any organization which is the subject of the official legislative activity.

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