CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – At least two lawmakers say they plan to ask the Legislature to begin an ethics investigation of House Speaker Gene Chandler, over the thousands of dollars Chandler accepted at fundraisers, and didn’t report.

“I’ve written out a complaint, but I haven’t signed it yet,” Rep. Kenneth Weyler, R-Kingston, told the New Hampshire Sunday News.

He said Rep. Charles F. Weed, D-Keene, had indicated he’d like to join in the filing to the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee. Weed said he plans to meet with Weyler this week.

“Legislators should treat their office as a public trust,” Weyler said, reading from the ethics committees guidelines. “They should use the powers and resources of public office to advance public interests, and not to attain personal benefits or pursue any other private interest incompatible with the public good.”

The ethics guidelines set a maximum limit of “$250 in aggregate from any single source during any calendar year” for awards, prizes, money or anything else of value.

Chandler has reported receiving “gifts” as large as $1,000 from individuals and corporations.

After news stories about his fundraising last month, Chandler, a Republican from Bartlett, reported the information required by law to identify sources of the money an elected official has received in “gifts, testimonials and honorarium.”

Chandler reported receiving $49,195 in gifts through his annual “Corn Roast Gala” sponsored by the Friends of Gene Chandler Committee. He has said he used the money for personal expenses and apologized for the committee’s failure to file reports annually as the law requires.

He said he didn’t believe the committee had to file.

Rep. Anthony DiFruscia, R-Windham, who is running against Chandler for speaker, has calculated more than $64,000 in cash gifts to Chandler were not reported in recent years.

He has written to Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, whose office has begun an investigation.

“This sheds a whole different light on the volunteer Legislature,” DiFruscia said of the contributions Chandler described as having been allocated to his personal use.

Weed said gifts from people with interests in the Legislature raise questions.

“Much of what our Legislature stands for is being close to the citizens, but also being incorruptible,” he said.

“There may be no way to demonstrate a quid pro quo, but some of us ought to be bothered enough to at least look into it,” said Weed.



Information from: The Union Leader, http://www.theunionleader.com

AP-ES-10-03-04 1201EDT



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