State legislator: NH governor should pardon jailed transparency activist

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
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New Hampshire Republican state Rep. Mark Warden told The Daily Caller he thinks the state’s Democratic Gov. John Lynch should pardon Adam Mueller, who was sentenced on Monday to nearly three months in jail for recording conversations with police and school officials without their consent.

But, Warden said, “I don’t see any benefit politically to Gov. Lynch to do so” because “less liberty is good for the executive branch of state government, whose lead cheerleader is the governor.”

The Granite State requires the consent of all parties before a conversation can be recorded. Last October Mueller posted a video of alleged police brutality at a local high school and subsequent conversations he recorded with a police officer and two school employees on his blog CopBlock.org.

Mueller was arrested after chalking the blog’s name on a police building. He represented himself during court proceedings for the three wiretapping charges.

“I don’t regret what I did,” Mueller said in court after asking jurors — without success — to ignore the law and find him not guilty.

Prosecutor Michael Valentine claimed that Mueller was trying “to disrupt, to be disobedient, to slow down the court system and clog it,” the Union Leader reports.

Valentine, who was heckled by protesters, had sought one year in jail, and the law allowed for up to 21 years for the three charges.

In 38 states and Washington, D.C., recording officials without their consent is not a crime. Warden told TheDC that his state “Democrats have been fighting changes to the wiretapping statutes.”

“The more actions made illegal, the more it means job security for folks in the judicial system and law enforcement,” said Warden. “Gov. Lynch is a big-government guy, and he has long enjoyed solid support from state employees unions, including police unions. The attorney general’s office supports more laws and harsher laws. The governor is firmly in their camp.”

Shannon Bettencourt, a spokesman for New Hampshire Republican House Speaker William O’Brien, told TheDC that O’Brien “looks forward” to meeting with Warden about legislation to change the law.

Warden informed TheDC that the state GOP’s party platform says, “Republicans … Will work to amend the wiretap statute to allow citizens to make audio/visual recordings of interactions with public officials.” This year, he said, the state Senate and House were unable to agree on language to change the law.

Republicans hold 79 percent of seats in the state Senate and 74 percent of seats in the House — both veto-proof margins.

“The Mueller case is a sad consequence of the legislature’s inaction,” said Warden.

Warden attended the trail, which he said was “a travesty and a total waste of taxpayer dollars.”

Lynch spokesman Colin Manning told TheDC, “There is no pardon request before the Governor and Council regarding that case.” He did not say whether or not Lynch would pardon Mueller, or if the governor believes the law should be changed.

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