D. J. Bettencourt (R-Salem) is the Majority Leader of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Here in the Granite State, we take pride in the fact that our lower house of the Assembly is the 3rd largest legislative body in the world. In the current legislative session, Republicans hold a super majority in the house; 293 Republicans to 104 democrats (3 vacant seats currently). And, I believe the 2011-2012 session is the first time the Majority Leader was elected by the party. Mr. Bettencourt was elected to Majority Leader by the 298 Republican legislators at the beginning of the session.
Today ... he resigned in shame.
You may be familiar with Mr. Bettencourt's name. Sadly, it is probably not because he was the youngest Majority Leader in the State's history (at 27 years of age). And, it is probably not because he endorsed Mr. Romney for President. No, Mr. Bettencourt is known around the country for calling a Roman Catholic Bishop a "Pedophile Pimp".
There is much to be upset about concerning the abuse of children by people in positions of authority ~ such as religious institutions. Mr. Bettencourt's slander, however, is not a way to foster healing. Nor is it within the expected behavior of our elected officials.
Under pressure, Mr. Bettencourt offered some language that gave the appearance of an apology, while never offering an actual apology. And the Republican enabling press in New Hampshire deemed his poor response adequate; allowing this disgrace to continue for another day.
Following that incident, the 298 Republican legislators remained mostly silent. There were a few dissenters, calling for a more serious sanction of Mr. Bettencourt within the Republican legislature ... but they were from the extreme edges of the Republican Party; generating enough noise to provide cover for the vast majority of Republicans who allowed Mr. Bettencourt to continue.
Yesterday, Mr. Bettencourt's resignation announcement was published in our local paper. The report indicated Mr. Bettencourt's recent graduation from UNH Law school, impending marriage and the opportunity to work at the New Hampshire Legal Rights Foundation were the reasons he was leaving his leadership position at the end of the legislative session.
Republican Committee Members went public with praise for the young leader as "principled", with a "bright future", feting his part in "turning the economy around" and reducing the state's "bloated budget". Why, he was a Republican Wunderkind.
Except ... Not Quite!.
Friday afternoon, Representative Brandon Giuda (R-Chichester) gave an interview to a couple of state news outlets, indicating that Mr. Bettencourt's resignation is not what it appears.
The charge is that Bettencourt lied to the New Hampshire Law School about a course of independent study he undertook at Mr. Giuda's small law office. According to Giuda, Bettencourt approached him earlier this year with a request. Bettencourt claimed insufficient credits to complete his law degree on schedule. Bettencourt asked if he could perform an internship (externship / independent study) with Giuda to accomplish the work needed to satisfy his law school requirements. Reportedly, Mr. Giuda was hesitant, but agreed when the Law School offered a contract of some sort.
During the first two weeks of the independent study, Mr. Bettencourt did not appear. On week three, he visited the law office for approximately two and a half hours, completing what Giuda claims was about one hour's worth of work.
Bettencourt, per the reports, never appeared at the law office again. Mr. Giuda did not press the issue, assuming Bettencourt walked away from the task, being busy with running (destroying) the state.
And then ...
Last week, Mr. Bettencourt posted a picture on his Facebook page, in cap and gown, thanking those who supported his time in school.
A foul odor reached Mr. Giuda's nose.
Giuda contacted the NH law school, asking about the independent study work Bettencourt had signed up for, but never completed. The school, rightfully, refused to offer any information, citing privacy concerns. But they did contact Bettencourt.
Bettencourt contacted Giuda, and asked for help making the issue disappear. But, that wasn't going to happen. The two men met with the NH House Speaker, Bill O'Brien. In the meeting. In that meeting, Bettencourt provided the full monty of his wrongdoings. He had fabricated 11 weeks worth of activities associated with his internship ~ including court appearances and client meetings. These extensive notes and documents were submitted to the law school. Mr. Guida apparently demanded Bettencourt's resignation and full confession. All agreed he could go away.
Did I mention Mr. O'Brien is the founder of the New Hampshire Legislative Rights Foundation ~ the new job Mr. Bettencourt was going to undertake after leaving public office. So, O'Brien was going to set up Bettencourt with some sort of cushy job, despite the ethical lapses.
The resignation announcement was made, and Giuda felt it entirely insufficient. Bettencourt was moving on for new opportunities. He admitted no wrong doing. There was no falling on sword. A cheerful word from colleagues in the House, and he completes the legislative session ... and nobody is the wiser.
Giuda threatened to release those fabricated 11 weeks of lies at noon today ... unless Bettencourt publicly confess.
At noontime today, Bettencourt publicly confessed. And he resigned; effective immediately.
From my point of view, this a welcome, overdue effect. Mr. Bettencourt has always been Mr. O'Brien's useful idiot ... and most often, just an idiot. The number of local letters to the editor I have had to read by Mr. Bettencourt, as he attempted to put a spit-shine on the turd of his actions was disheartening. Good bye ~ Good Riddance ~ couldn't happen soon enough.
To my opinion, this is more than an 'It's O.K. If You're A Republican' error. No, it is far beyond that. This is a John Gault level of stupidity. Now, I have not read Atlas Shrugged; ever. But, I know enough about the plot line to understand that Rand felt some people contribute, and others don't; and those that do, should just do whatever the hell they want, because they contribute. The underlying philosophy is that "If it is good for me, it is good for me. Good for Me". And that is exactly where the right wingers in our House live.
I believe Bettencourt felt perfectly justified in just making shit up ... because he is important, and contributing. See all the things he is doing as Majority Leader? Did you read all those letters to the editor, telling us what he has done? He is entitled. Can't you see that?
(Sort of makes you feel sad for his fiance)
So ... Bettencourt is gone. The stain he and Speaker O'Brien created will live on in New Hampshire. In the posts on the comment walls, the Free-Staters are circling the wagons. Or claiming that ALL politicians are like this; even when they aren't.
But, Today ... Today is a much brighter day; because Mr. Bettencourt is gone.
6:14 PM PT: Thanks for reading. Thanks for recommending.