Londonderry resident files ethics complaint vs. GOP Senate hopeful

·2 min read

Jan. 21—LONDONDERRY — Two local residents have accused Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith of politicking for the U.S. Senate on taxpayer time in violation of state election law.

In a complaint filed with Attorney General John Formella last week, Jim Green and Michaela Hites said Smith repeatedly posted campaign-related statements on Twitter during working hours over the past two months.

Green said Smith's conduct appears to be a violation of the state law that bans electioneering by public officials during the performance of their government duties.

"As residents of the town of Londonderry, it is incredibly concerning that Kevin Smith may have used taxpayer time and resources to bolster his campaign for U.S. Senate instead of doing his job, especially in the midst of a public health crisis," they wrote.

"But Mr. Smith's actions do more than just waste the taxpayers' hard-earned dollars; they undermine the public's trust in the hardworking civil servants employed by cities and towns across the Granite State."

A campaign official denied Smith had done anything improper and defended his posts on social media about U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan.

Smith, 44, is holding his formal campaign announcement Saturday night at the Lions Club Hall in Londonderry.

Other Republicans running in the Senate primary include Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, and retired Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc of Stratham.

Morse will hold his campaign kickoff Jan. 29 at Freshwater Farms, his landscaping and nursery business in Atkinson.

Five tweets cited

During a telephone interview, Green said he's a registered Democrat and a retired federal employee who most recently worked for the U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security.

Green said Smith's conduct would clearly be in violation of the Hatch Act that governs federal employees.

For example, Green said he once took paid time off his job to leave the office and send a document to his daughter on a private fax machine.

"It's the clear conflict of interest that kind of scares me, and I think this is something the attorney general clearly should look into," Green said.

He would not say whether he was supporting Hassan's re-election.

"For the purposes of this issue, it doesn't seem appropriate for me to discuss that, because I'd just be doing what I'm accusing him of doing," Green said.

The complaint cites five different occasions from last Dec. 6 to Jan. 12 in which Smith posted about Hassan and federal issues on Twitter during the hours that Londonderry Town Hall was open — Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"In each of these instances, Mr. Smith either violated New Hampshire state law or was absent from his job," Green said.

klandrigan@unionleader.com