New Hampshire Democratic Representative-elect Stacie Laughton – the first-ever transgender official elected to a public office – is resigning before she takes office because of the discovery of her criminal history.
The Laconia Daily Sun reported over the weekend that Laughton is a felon. No one discovered Laughton’s criminal history until after the election, though, because she was legally named Barry Charles Laughton, Jr. when she pleaded guilty to criminal charges in court.
“Laughton, recently elected as one of three lawmakers to represent Hillsborough County House District 31, is a convicted felon and served 4-1/2 months in jail in 2008 for conspiracy to commit credit card fraud,” The Laconia Daily Sun reports. “She was also convicted of tire slashing and at one point reportedly admitted she faked illness to gain an ambulance ride from Weirs Beach back to the heart of Laconia.”
While Laughton initially indicated she was planning to weather the political storm that was coming after New Hampshire House Republican Leader Pete Silva called for her resignation, a since-surfaced interpretation of the law made her change her mind.
According to the conservative-leaning Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, New Hampshire law allows Laughton to vote, but since she’s still technically serving her sentence via probation, she’s not legally allowed to hold the public office.
Local Nashua Patch.com reported Tuesday that Laughton changed her mind and decided to call it quits after her case was referred to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office. That office had already launched the beginning stages of an investigation before Laughton announced her resignation.
“I’m extremely disappointed,” Laughton told Nashua Patch on Tuesday after reportedly discussing the matter with New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley and other party officials.
Laughton said her own lawyer told her that “given the magnitude of this, it will cost a lot and I don’t have a very strong argument.”
“I’m not going to step away from the public eye,” she added, though. “I’m going to stay involved and continue my activism and the advocacy work I’ve done. I’m very bold and not afraid to put myself out there, despite my past. I won’t stop serving my community in whatever capacity I can.”
Laughton originally said she didn’t think it was necessary to tell the people she was asking to elect her, adding that she would have talked about it if somebody ever figured it out and asked.
“I didn’t feel it was necessary to tell [constituents], but I felt like if it came to light – which it has – I was going to be honest,” Laughton told Nashua Patch after the story first broke. “I was prepared for it to come out during the campaign. I don’t want to step down; I want to serve the people – that’s all I’ve wanted to do, and regardless of my past, I can do it and serve them.”
In May 2007, Laughton — then known as Barry Charles – and now ex-wife Lisa, opened a credit card in the name of a woman who lived in the same public housing project as them, The Laconia Daily Sun reports. Laconia police determined that the Laughtons used the credit card fraudulently to buy electronics and pay bills.
“Documents obtained from Belknap County Superior Court indicate Laughton was indicted on one felony count of conspiracy to commit fraudulent use of a credit card, one count of conspiracy to commit identity fraud, and one count of falsifying physical evidence for disposing of two of the computers, two cell phones and a printer after learning of the police investigation,” The Laconia Daily Sun reports. “On July 29, 2008, she pleaded guilty — under the name of Barry Charles Jr. — to the three charges. Laughton was sentenced to 7 1/2 to 15 years for conspiracy to commit credit card fraud — all suspended pending 10 years of good behavior, and 3 1/2 to 7 years for the falsifying physical evidence — again suspended to 10 years good behavior. The two suspended sentences were concurrent.”
“She was sentenced to serve 12 months with four months suspended in the Belknap County House of Corrections for conspiracy to commit fraudulent use of a credit card,” The Laconia Daily Sun article added. “According to Department of Corrections media spokesman Jeff Lyons, Laughton served four and one-half months in jail and was released on November 21, 2008.”
That was hardly the only time this Democrat, whose Nov. 6 victory was described by the liberal Huffington Post as a “history-making win,” broke the law. The local news article details several cases where she committed illegal activity.