NASHUA — Stacie and Lisa Laughton, who were both stripped of their selectman seats earlier this year after their criminal backgrounds were exposed, say they will not run for re-election this fall as originally anticipated.
"We won't be able to get into public office for the next five years," said Stacie Laughton, a former Ward 4 selectman and the state's first openly transgender legislator who was temporarily elected to the House of Representatives but ultimately withdrew her candidacy before being sworn into office last fall.
Earlier this summer, the Laughtons announced their intentions to return to politics by seeking their former positions as selectmen for Ward 4 in the November election. They held those seats until this past January, at which time the positions were nullified following an opinion from the state Attorney General's Office that determined their previous criminal convictions had not been finally discharged under the law because of nearly $2,000 in unpaid restitution.
Although the Laughtons still believed they were eligible to run for public office, after speaking with one of their former parole officers, the two Nashua women were informed that their final discharge will not occur until they fulfill 10 years of good behavior and their restitution is fully paid."Instead of paying money to have this issue litigated, we will use that money to instead pay for our restitution," said Stacie Laughton, 29.
In 2008, Stacie Laughton pleaded guilty to charges of fraudulent use of a credit card, conspiracy to commit identity fraud and falsifying physical evidence. Lisa Laughton, 42, was involved in the same identity theft and credit card fraud incident and also convicted. Those convictions, however, did not become public until after Stacie Laughton was elected to the House of Representatives last fall — a position she ultimately had to give up because of her past criminal actions under the name of Barry C. Laughton Jr. of Laconia.
"We cannot be elected for the next five years. Although we are disappointed, we are not giving up the opportunity to do other community service work," said Stacie Laughton, who recently volunteered at the Nashua Soup Kitchen and the local Salvation Army. "We are going to still be active, and I look forward to the next five years. I will be back after that."
Under state statute, "A person sentenced for a felony, from the time of his sentence until his final discharge, may not … become a candidate for or hold public office."Although the Laughtons, both of Nashua, are no longer a couple, they do consider themselves best friends. The Laughtons still have about $1,600 in unpaid restitution, and are continuing to make monthly payments, they said.