N.H. Transgender Legislator-Elect Won't Take Office
Stacie Laughton, the first openly transgender state legislator elected in New Hampshire, will give up her office in light of the revelation that she has been convicted of a felony, something she did not disclose during her campaign.
“After a lot of thought and after talking with the state party chair and my Democratic caucus director, I’ve decided to resign my position of state representative-elect,” Laughton said today, according to the Nashua Telegraph.
“As far as the stuff that’s been going on up until now, and with that in mind, I’ve decided to resign for now, and leave my options open for future political office,” added Laughton, a Nashua Democrat who was elected this month. “There’s been a lot of negative news that’s been published about me as far as what I’ve done in my past.”
In 2008, Laughton served four months in jail on a charge of conspiracy to commit credit card fraud. She was then known as Barry Charles Jr. She had been sentenced to a longer term, but she was released early, with a requirement for 10 years of good behavior. A New Hampshire newspaper reported her criminal history last week, leading Republican officials to call for her resignation, even though her record did not disqualify her from holding office.
“State law prohibits convicted felons from holding office until final discharge from prison,” the Telegraph reports. “But, in the prison system, officials consider final discharge to be when the convict is released, not when parole expires.”
“As far as certain Republican officials are concerned, they’re stating the 10 years of good behavior was part of the sentencing agreement and they’re trying to say technically, it means I haven’t had a final discharge,” Laughton told the paper.
State Republican Party chairman Wayne MacDonald also had said Laughton “hadn’t come clean” about her record.
Laughton “can’t formally resign her post, as she has not yet been sworn in,” the Telegraph reports, so she will notify the secretary of state that she will not accept the office. Now the Nashua Board of Aldermen, which schedules the city’s elections, may decide to hold a special election to choose a replacement for Laughton, or they may decide to leave the seat empty until the next regular election.
As for Laughton, she said she hopes her experience does not discourage other transgender people from running for office, and she may run again. “The state hasn’t seen the last from me,” she said.