By Chris Paul
Londonderry resident, Jonathan Esposito, has been very vocal over the past several weeks with a number of concerns he has with the various branches of local town government, and a recent letter he sent to a Town Councilor on comments he made at the Town Council meeting is the focus of his most recent complaint.
Esposito registered a formal complaint against Town Council Chairman, John Farrell, of electioneering in a letter he sent to Town Moderator, Jonathan Kipp, and Town Manager, Mike Malaguti.
In the letter he states: “It has come to my attention that Londonderry Town Council Chairman, John Farrell, has been using his official position to engage in prohibited behavior that would be defined as prohibited electioneering, (NH RSA 659:44-a)”
He explained that emails he sent to the Town Council and Manager regarding contentious dialogue between this private citizen and the town, have been forwarded from Farrell’s official email, and sent out via the Chairman’s personal email address to a number of undisclosed recipients.
He said, “These emails contain libelous statements, which falsely attribute the behavior of a private citizen to a Town Political Committee. These emails also disparage Janet Huttula, a private citizen who was a past officer of the Town Political Committee in question.”
He added “This practice was aided by Councilman, Jim Butler, who took concerns over corruption emailed by a private citizen, and proceeded to falsely attribute these concerns to a Town Political Committee that had no involvement in the private citizens behavior.”
Esposito said that his correspondence was falsely misattributed to a Town Political Committee multiple times between March 7 and 9, etablishing a clear pattern of behavior and that the behavior occurred within seven days of a contentious Town Election. He added, “This behavior is in direct response to an email I wrote to the Town of Londonderry in which I contended that Councilman Joe Green made a false statement in the Londonderry Times regarding his voting record.”
He also asked that that the town should excuse the council members in question from duties on election day, until such time as these concerns can be addressed by either Moderator Kipp or the NH SOS.
According to Malaguti, the complaint was not sent to the correct place. He said, “On March 10, a complaint of prohibited electioneering was misdirected to the Town Moderator and me. Neither the Town Moderator nor the Town Manager possess authority to investigate or enforce the applicable statute as this responsibility is assigned to the Attorney General’s Office. The complainant was apprised of this fact on March 10.”
Esposito confirmed that he had contacted the Attorney General’s Office, but was never given and answer to his complaint.
The letter Esposito was referring to in his complaint was something Farrell sent to a number of recipients through his personal email as a response to Esposito’s latest email and a number of “Right to Know Requests” he has sent to the town.
Farrell stated in that email, “Below is one of the many emails we have received from the Chairman of the Londonderry Republican Committee. This is the leader of your party making constant frivolous demands and accusations regarding the Town and School governments. To date we have spent over $35,000 in taxpayer money answering the 91A requests, which are required by law. Another option is simply to ask for information since its all public record, most of it is accessible to anyone.
The latest email confirms the social media chatter that all public officials are corrupt and stealing from the community. (Volunteers remember) Your Chairman has now anointed himself the savior of Londonderry and King Auditor. Our attorney’s have estimated that these monthly so called audits will result in several thousands of tax payer dollars on another wild goose chase. All forms of government in Londonderry are audited on an annual basis.”
Farrell added, “If you believe that actual crimes and corruption are happening in our Town.
I strongly encourage you to contact the NH Attorney General and or the FBI. The contact information for both is below.
If you don’t could we please get back to building a great community with great people who enjoy their friends, neighbors and great services. Yes, we pay a lot in taxes so why is it being wasted on something silly. If you want to know something just ask it’s all in the public domain.
Allegations of criminal misconduct by a State or municipal public official should be reported to the Attorney General’s Office, Criminal Division, Public Integrity Unit, 33 Capitol St., Concord, NH 03301, 603-271-3671.”
The latest letter Farrell was referencing had a subject line of “Corruption in Londonderry” and was addressed to Butler.
The letter states: “There is plenty of it and while we can play word games and hide behind decorum at Town Hall meetings; The devil is in the (payment) details.
“Why do you think I have appointed myself as a citizen auditor, and will be examining outgoing checks approved by the Town month to month?
“Why do you think I am asking so many questions about who authorized past expenses?
“It is not enough to avoid overt bad faith actions. As someone who used to advise clinicians on the ethicality of their decisions, let me tell you; one must avoid “even the appearance thereunto” of poor ethical conduct, something this most recent session of the council has not done.
“This pressure on the council over bad faith decisions isn’t going away. There is a shadow over Town Council, one that hopefully some new blood will serve to dispel.
“Regardless of the outcome of the election, there will be a new level of scrutiny and a new era of accountability. And you will have the benevolent hand of Jonathan Esposito to guide you along the way.”
Esposito received a response from Associate Attorney General, Anne Edwards, early Tuesday morning, March 14, that stated, “We reviewed the information you provided on Friday. Based on the information we received, that local election officials were responding to people using the election officials’ personal emails and the responses were not accurate or negatively impacted people, we do not see a violation of NH’s election laws. While these types of behavior could be problematic for election officials who must perform their election duties in a neutral manner, outside of performance of their election duties, election officials maintain their 1st Amendments rights of free speech and expression. If election officials have official town email addresses, using those when performing their official duties is the best practice. However, not all communities provide election officials with town email addresses.
“The Secretary of State will have staff at the Londonderry polls monitoring the demonstration of a new ballot counting device. If you have any concerns with today’s election or the actions of any Londonderry election officials (including the town councilors), you can speak with the Secretary’s staff or you can call our election hotline and we will assist.
Esposito is also currently challenging the Town Council’s failure to add citizen correspondence into meeting minutes (See his letter to the editor on page 4).