Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, made a fateful wrong turn on the night of Dec. 23, 2013, and drove his BMW into New Hampshire political infamy. The state Attorney General's report on the incident that became known as "Duckgate," which was released on Thursday, ensures that Campbell's trip, like the driveway where his political carreer died, was one-way.
The day before the report's release, Campbell announced that he would not seek reelection this year. The timing was a complete coincidence, he said. That statement is as convincing as some of Campbell's statements to the Nashua police, which are detailed in the report.
As the report shows, Campell entered the one-way driveway of Nashua's Crowne Plaza Hotel in the wrong direction and ran over five ducks, killing them. Witnesses reported hearing Campbell ask that the police not be called because it would ruin his reputation. No witness backed up Campbell's claim that the airline pilot who confronted him in the driveway was threatening. The police were called, and Cambpell said he was going inside to wait. Instead, he slipped out to his nearbly office, where he called his friend, Nashua Police Commissioner Thomas Pappas.
Though Pappas picked up Campbell and drove him to the apartment of Rocel Gonzales, whom the report describes as Campbell's "lady friend," Campbell later told the investigating officer that he spent the night at home. "Campbell also added that his phone died that night," the report stated. But Pappas told police, and call records show, that Campbell's phone was working long after police left him a message asking for him to call them - a message he received, told Pappas about, then ignored, according to the report,
The report twice described Campbell's statements to the police as "untruthful."
On Thursday, Campbell issued a statement through his criminal defense attorney in which the attorney attacked the character of the man who reported Campbell to the police that night and criticized the Attorney General's Office for investigating the incident instead of murders. Distractions, distractions.
The one thing missing from the statement: any assertion that any part of the report was untrue.
The report can be summarized as follows: Campbell had a few drinks, drove the wrong way in a hotel driveway, killed five ducks, used his police commissioner friend to help him vanish overnight, then did not tell the police the truth about his whereabouts or availability.
Had the report been released just one day earlier, it might have affected the outcome of that day's vote on the gas tax increase, which Campbell was shepherding through the House. What lucky timing. Campbell can pretend that he ended his political career on a high note, passing the first gas tax increase in more than two decades to improve the state's roads. But thanks to the AG's detailed report, the record will reflect a less honorable departure.