Transcripts: Jeanie Forrester had Andy Sanborn on her radar as accusations came against himBy DAVE SOLOMON
New Hampshire Union Leader
August 21. 2018 10:04AM
CONCORD — The latest transcripts from the Attorney General’s investigation into the conduct of state senator and congressional candidate Andy Sanborn of Bedford reveal that then-Sen. Jeanie Forrester, who later became state chairman for the Republican Party, was so concerned about Sanborn’s alleged sexually offensive behavior that she intervened on behalf of a staff member.
As part of a change in Senate leadership in 2013, Forrester was named chairman of the Finance Committee and was assigned a new office, at which point she requested that the female aide, who was also working for Sanborn at the time, be assigned exclusively to her.
“She complained or confided in me about her concerns with Sen. Sanborn and expressed that he would say things that were inappropriate,” Forrester told investigators from the Attorney General’s office when she was interviewed in January. “When I moved to another office I asked for her to come with me, and specifically asked that she be removed from Sen. Sanborn’s supervision.”
Sanborn’s conduct has been investigated by Senate counsel, outside counsel and, more recently, by the Attorney General.
In June, the Attorney General’s office cleared Sanborn of any wrongdoing in connection with an inappropriate comment made in 2013 to an intern who later got a part-time job in the Senate Clerk’s Office and an envelope with $200 in it. But the allegations continue to follow Sanborn during his campaign for the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District.
In response to Right-to-Know requests, the Department of Justice has been releasing various transcripts from its investigation as they become available. The first batch of heavily redacted transcripts, released in July, revealed that Sanborn was denied any staff assistance until he agreed to complete sexual harassment training.
The second batch released earlier this month provided more detail into the comments to the intern that triggered the investigations.
A third batch of transcripts, released on Friday, shed more light on concerns about Sanborn’s conduct among his fellow senators.
Sanborn says the controversy is being dragged out by his political opponents despite the fact that he has been cleared of any wrongdoing.
“These issues and phantom assertions have now been looked into several times, including all the way up to the Attorney General’s office,” Sanborn said in a statement. “He, everyone else, and these documents have been absolutely clear: I have never violated any sensitivity policy and no one has made an informal or formal complaint.”
While no formal complaints were filed, the transcripts reveal a pattern of behavior that troubled Senate leadership as well as many rank-and-file lawmakers.
Sen. Sharon Carson said her concerns about Sanborn were not limited to the incident that triggered the investigation.
“My own personal observation: this is something that Sen. Sanborn has done quite a few times. There have been complaints,” she said. “I know other staffers had made complaints about him as well. There was a young man who kept a notebook, and in that notebook were two years’ worth of things that Sen. Sanborn had said to him that were totally inappropriate.”
After Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, became Senate President in 2013, Carson said a meeting of Senate leadership took place. After that meeting, Sen. Sanborn was not assigned a legislative aide for a period of months.
“And then he was assigned Shannon Girard, who was also Sen. Morse’s aide, so that way if anything happened, Morse would know,” Carson said. “So it was a way of trying to keep a check on him as well.”
The transcripts were initially released after a Right-to-Know request was filed in June by Manchester political activist Andy Martin, one of the other Republicans on the primary ballot with Sanborn. The Union Leader submitted a request of its own for the same material.