Stephanie Laughton can run again

Stacie Laughton of Nashua, the state’s first openly transgender legislator who ultimately resigned and was forced to pay restitution related to a prior criminal conviction, says she is now eligible to return to public office.

NASHUA — The state’s first openly transgender legislator who was elected to the House of Representatives in 2011 but never served her term, said this week that she plans to return to politics.

Democrat Stacie Laughton, of 507 Broad St., was elected in November 2012 as one of three House members for Ward 4 in Nashua. However, after news surfaced about her previous life as a convicted felon under the name of Barry C. Laughton Jr. in Laconia, Laughton signed her letter of resignation.

Now, several years later, Laughton says she has formed an exploratory committee to study options to hopefully return to city government.

“It is nice to be back and nice to be eligible and try to make some sort of a comeback,” said Laughton.

Laughton was required to pay $2,000 in restitution in order to be cleared to run for public office once again. She has paid that amount.

“Over the years, since I had to step away from the New Hampshire House and I had to step away from being a (Ward 4) selectman, I have always tried to engage politically,” she told aldermen on Tuesday, saying she officially became eligible to hold and serve public office as of July 2018.

In 2008, Laughton pleaded guilty to charges of fraudulent use of a credit card, conspiracy to commit identity fraud and falsifying physical evidence. 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.”

According to the city’s legal counsel and the Attorney General’s previous opinion, Laughton was never eligible to serve her Ward 4 selectman seat in Nashua, which was ultimately nullified; she willingly resigned from her House seat before ever serving in the position.

In recent weeks, Laughton has been attending city aldermen and committee meetings, specifically voicing support for a proposal to raise the city’s smoking age to 21.

“I will be coming back to more meetings and learning more,” Laughton said, adding she is looking forward to getting back into the political scene.

In 2015, Laughton was sentenced to a suspended six-month jail term for reporting a bomb threat at a local hospital. Laughton was initially arrested and charged with a felony count of making a false report of explosives, however a judge agreed to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor.

At the time, she was required to participate in the Nashua Mental Health Court for one year.

Following the incident, Laughton voluntarily admitted herself to the Brattleboro Retreat, a mental health and addiction treatment facility in Vermont, saying earlier that she had been diagnosed with type one bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder.