N.H. Education Dept. Head Faces Criticism Over Planned 'Right of Center' Appearance

Aug 16, 2017

Credit Peter Biello for NHPR

Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut is facing fresh criticism about engaging in political activity while in office.

Edelblut is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a so-called Right of Center Meeting next month.

The group’s website describes these events as opportunities for quote “brainstorming how to further the Right’s agenda within the state.”

This event in Manchester is being hosted by a group led by former Republican lawmakers Bill O’Brien and Steve Stepanek.

A liberal activist group, Granite State Progress, says the event is an inappropriate use of Edelblut’s public office for partisan purposes.

O’Brien pushes back, saying commissioners should be free to speak to a variety of groups.

“It is just an attempt to stifle political discussion. It’s an attempt to stifle options available to the people of New Hampshire, for one side of the political spectrum to say, ‘don’t go talk to the other side.’”

Edelblut did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Edelblut, who ran for governor last year, has pledged to operate in a nonpartisan fashion.

Earlier this year, he canceled an appearance at a GOP event in Hancock after similar concerns were raised.