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Lawmaker arrested for felonies relating to his voting rights

Whenever the broad process of politics is involved directly or indirectly in the decision to arrest and prosecute, it can sometimes be a formula for repression of the rights of the accused and can set the stage to challenge the prosecution. A state representative who resigned last week has been arrested for the felonies of witness tampering and bribery. The conflict appears to revolve around a genuine mix-up over where he was supposed to vote in the New Hampshire primary election in February.

At some point over the early winter, the defendant had to move out of his apartment due to what is described as an unlivable condition that was damaging his health. He had been living in a Rochester Housing Authority facility, apparently as a senior citizen resident. He moved to a temporary location outside his district.

He did report these matters to various officials and was reportedly told that as long as he intended to move back, that his domicile did not change and he could still vote there and remain a legislator. An interview with a state official appears to verify that this advice was given. Nonetheless, after he returned to his district to vote, he was targeted and later arrested.

It may be argued that the arrest is a classic waste of state resources, since the man was exercising his solemn right to vote where he had been voting and where he had lived until a recent emergency caused his move. He had applied to get a new apartment and intended to maintain his domicile. The rush to prosecute the defendant may therefore be a good defense issue.

The defendant was arrested and charged with the above New Hampshire felonies. It seems that another employee of the housing authority reported that the accused offered him a "substantial donation" if he would expedite a new residence in the district. It is arguable that this was not a bribe because, even if he said it, there appears to be no substantial benefits passing to the defendant. The job of legislator pays $100 per year, which he received months ago. This apparently gives the defendant no reason to try and move back into his district other than to represent his constituents for no pay.

Source: boston.com, "Former New Hampshire state representative charged with felony witness tampering, bribery", Nik DeCosta-Klipa, May 31, 2016

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