Former NHGOP chair seeks removal of 189 House members for 'breach of oath'
CONCORD -- Former Republican Party Chairman Jack Kimball, a leader of the Tea Party/liberty movement in the state, wants all New Hampshire House members who voted for repeal of the stand-your-ground law removed from office.
Kimball, who heads the Granite State Patriots Liberty PAC, has filed an "emergency verified complaint" for "breach of oath of office" against House Majority Leader Steve Shurtleff, D-Penacook, and the other 188 House members who, he charged, "violated their oaths of office by voting in favor of House Bill 135 and thereby breaching the public trust of the People of New Hampshire."
The state Democratic Party called the "antics" a "shameful embarrassment" for the state.
Kimball wrote in his complaint that Shurtleff, by sponsoring and voting for the bill, and all other lawmakers who voted for it, violated their oaths and "Article 38 of the New Hampshire Bill of Rights by submitting a bill .... that was clearly contrary to the fundamental principles of the New Hampshire Constitution."
Article 38 says the people have a right to require that their lawmakers adhere to the constitution's "fundamental principles" in the "formation and execution of the laws."
Kimball believes Part 2 Article 5 of the state constitution was also violated by the lawmakers. That provision says legislators are forbidden from making laws "repugnant and contrary to this constitution."
He wrote that in addition, a federal law was broken because the lawmakers conspired to deprive citizens of a right they enjoy under the U.S. Constitution -- the right to bear arms.
The House on March 27 narrowly voted to repeal the controversial stand-your-ground law, which was passed by last year's Republican-dominated Legislature over the veto of former Gov. John Lynch.
The current Democratic-controlled House's 189-184 roll call in favor of repeal sent the bill to the state Senate, where Republicans holds a 13-11 majority and where its fate is uncertain.
In the House vote, 186 Democrats and three Republicans favored repeal; 167 Republicans and 17 Democrats opposed repeal.
The law as it now stands allows for the use of deadly force if a victim "reasonably believes" deadly force is about to be used against him. Such force can be used wherever the victim encounters a perceived attacker.
Shurtleff Friday responded to Kimball's move:
"It's their right to petition, but there is no merit. All House Bill 135 did was return us to the self-defense law that was in effect from 1977 to 2011 and was never found to be unconstitutional."
House Republican Leader Gene Chandler of Bartlett House Minority Leader Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett, said he was unaware of the Kimball petition and said it "has nothing to do with our (House GOP) office.
"We had the debate on the House floor and that's the way we do things," Chandler said." Now the bill goes to the Senate. Hopefully it will not pass there and we'll be right where we are today."
House speaker Terie Norelli, D-Portsmouth, declined comment.
State Democratic Party Harrell Kirstein said the petitions shows that "Republicans have turned their back on traditional New Hampshire values in a rush to carry the mantle of Bill O'Brien and Jeb Bradley's irresponsible Tea Party. But this chilling behavior is exactly what voters rejected last fall.
"As the head of her party, Kelly Ayotte, along with Republican legislative leaders Peter Bragdon, Jeb Bradley, and Gene Chandler, should condemn these costly, wasteful and intimidating antics for what they are -- a shameful embarrassment for the State of New Hampshire," Kirstein said.
Democrats also pointed out that Ayotte opposed stand-your-ground in 2006 as attorney general.
Kimball said he filed the complaint with the Strafford County Sheriff's Office and with the U.S. Attorney's Office.
He said a similar complaint was filed by state Rep. John Hikel, R-Goffstown, at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and with the U.S. Attorney.
Kimball said he will encourage participants at a GSPL-PAC rally scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. in front of the State House to file their own petitions or to sign on to a separate redress petition that was filed with the House earlier this week.
As for the breach complaints, Kimball said it is up to the U.S. Attorney and the sheriffs "where they are going to take this.
"We've done our job and we will wait and see how they react," he said.
"We've had enough," Kimball said. "We've had these rallies but we really need to put some teeth behind what we're doing. It needs to start happening and I don't see any better place for it to happen than in New Hampshire, with its Revolutionary War history and its 'Live Free or Die' traditions."
The PAC says the rally's theme is "Honor Your Oath" and is "intended to create awareness of the fact that many of our elected officials have violated their oaths of office and are attempting to impose legislation that is clearly unlawful and violates the U.S. and New Hampshire constitutions, documents which they promised to 'protect and defend.'"
Scheduled speakers include Kimball, conservative talk show host Jeff Chidester; Chief Jon Worrall of the Wounded Warriors; Skip Murphy of the Granite Grok web site; Laurie Pettingill, former state legislator; Andrew Hemingway, political activist and former chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire; Reps. Dan Itse, Dan Dumaine, Jane Cormier and Al Baldasaro; and James Hazard, described by the PAC as an "oathkeeper."