Cold, Calculating Kelly (For Whatever You Got)

Leapfrogging the somnolent state press, Hodes himself spread the word tonight on Hardball about Kelly Ayotte’s cold embrace of capital punishment as a means to burnish her political aspirations:

I’ll try to get it Scrib’d in a bit (UPDATE: a pic of the email exchange is below the fold), but for now, all you need to know is Ayotte’s 2006 emailed response to a question about a possible opportunity opening up in NH-02 for higher office (the spelling errors are hers):

“Have you been following the last 2 Weeks. A police officer was klilled and I hannounced that I would seek the death penalty.”

And while that is obviously the big shocker, it’s also worthwhile noting that this is now another position Ayotte was considering besides US senator. Back in September, we learned she was thinking about the governor’s office too.

It’s no wonder the FRM ponzi scheme went unnoticed.  That’s what happens when an AG office is used – through pursuing executions and losing Supreme Court cases – as a proxy campaign vehicle.  
The email exchange was provided by the Hodes campaign.  I have blocked out the email addy detail for Mr. Varsalone:

  • Kathy Sullivan 2

    This email exchange is so bad on so many levels. It’s sick.

    I support the death penalty in very limited circumstances, one of them is for the murder of police officers. But a political tool? And then her political advisor joked about it? I don’t know what to say.

       

  • The Money Magician

    I hope someone posts the entire content of the three emails, so that there’s no opportunity for an “out of context” rebuttal.

    • elwood

      She never seemed to respond:

      Sorry, this is my work e-mail account. It’s paid for by the taxpayers and I’m on the clock right now. If you want to talk about my political future, let’s do it on my personal account, on my personal time.

      • The Money Magician

        - the text of the email to her that prompted the reference to the Addison trial.  Was there something else in it that she might have been responding to?

        - the rest of her response.  For instance, was it “I can’t think about campaigning, I’m too busy. Have you been following…” – which would change the intent.

        I doubt there’s anything redeeming there… but if you want to convince skeptics that this was as outrageous as it appears, you need to roll out the whole case.  If you’ve got it, share it!  

      • hannah
  • Garth Corriveau

    So, on October 27, 2006 the Attorney General of the State of New Hampshire saw fit to discuss an ongoing capital punishment case with a political advisor who instantly recognized the capital punishment trial as her big political break (and communicated the same to her).

    If Rob Varsalone is employed by the Ayotte campaign, he should immediately be fired. Politicizing the murder of a Manchester police officer is absolutely abhorrent.

    Ms. Ayotte personally has the obligation to apologize for her actions and those of Mr. Varsalone and to explain her rationale for her Machiavellian email correspondence.

  • susanthe

    for political gain is abhorrent.

    It was abhorrent when Joe (who?) Kenney tried to use the multiple murder in Conway in 2008 to jumpstart his goobernatorial campaign by grandstanding about the death penalty.

    It’s abhorrent when O’Brien in Mont Vernon uses that murder to grandstand on the death penalty, as well as playing to his base.

    Kelly Ayotte is the latest to join the abhorrent brigade. She gave NH a death penalty case – but no ideas on how we’re going to pay the millions that will cost the taxpayers. On top of that, she played the Briggs family in the coldest, most calculating way.  She makes me want to go scrub down with a wire brush.  

    • hannah

      I’m surprised the defense hasn’t appealed on the grounds of prosecutorial prejudice.  Of course, prosecutors do enjoy absolute immunity because it is assumed they have no personal involvement–just work with the evidence provided by law enforcement and let the judgment be rendered by the impartial judge.  Somehow, personal professional ambition or political advancement doesn’t count as personal interest.  The SCOTUS was about to address that in Pottawattamie v. McGhee, but the case was settled before the decision came down.  So, no precedent. Yet.

      What’s concerning about the emails are the time stamps.  The initial exchange seems to have taken place after 4:00 PM on a Friday when the AG’s office was perhaps closed for the day and then the final “summation” is from that morning.  Looks like maybe there was a do-over.
      Kelly’s response could be taken to mean that the big case makes her too busy to think about running for office.  
      I know that computer clocks are often off.  However, a response arriving six hours before the original exchange is a puzzlement……..  

      • Karen

        What’s up with the times being in reverse order?  First email (at the bottom) 4:16, response at 4:13, then last email at 10:32AM?  That is going to have to be explained for this to be credible.

        • Dean Barker

          of one computer either on a different time zone (Garth’s diary makes clear Varsalone works abroad) or else a computer set to the wrong time.

          In any event, I contacted the Hodes campaign to clarify, and they made clear they got the emails directly from the AG’s office. They also hold a similar view of why the times might be off.

    • Jack Mitchell

      As you point out, the decision to pursue the DP has consequences for the NH taxpayers. DP cases are more costly. So, Ayotte made a decision that is not very “fiscally conservative” and is under the shadow of her ambition. She needs to explain how she came to the decision she did.

      The appearence that her decision to use taxpayers money to forward her career should be a deal breaker in NH. Wonder if she will get pressed to answer.

      • susanthe

        has no death row. Has no death chamber. Has no staff trained for executions. These are costs NH taxpayers will be experiencing. A state rep gave me an estimate of $1 million so far spent on the Briggs case. Those appeals also cost money – tons of money. The cost of housing an inmate in NH for a year is around $33,000.

        It’s ironic to note that other states are getting rid of the death penalty because of the cost. Yet here in NH, our GOP legislators want to expand the DP, to add more cases. In SB-472, the NH Judicial Council warns that passing this bill could add upwards of $5 million a year in costs. Where will that money come from? What budget cuts will be made in order to kill a few people? What kind of sense does that even make?

        Until Ayotte smelled “political opportunity,” NH hadn’t executed anyone since 1939.  

        • Jack Mitchell

          Ayotte:
          - shored up political support amongst a pro-DP group of NH legislators and activists
          - exposed NH taxpayers to an undetermined cost curve
          - did this under the shadow of political betterment

          Awkward.

          Is this thing on?

          • hannah
  • Jack Mitchell

    “E-mails that were sent back and forth from someone who I have known for a long time, who is a friend, who I don’t necessarily agree with everything he wrote in the e-mail, but I can tell you that to me, the 30,000 e-mails that were produced of the time that I have served as attorney general, I’m proud of my record as attorney general,” she said. “I take my duties very seriously, and only base my decisions on the facts of the case, and feel that the appropriate thing to do in that case was how that case was pursued.”

    In a post-debate appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” Hodes said it was “stunning” that Ayotte would attempt to use the case of a fallen police officer to further her political ambitions.

    “She wasn’t above using a murder case and a death penalty case as a springboard for her personal, political ambitions,” he said. “This is cold, this is ruthless, this is a politician who’s planning to run for years and wants the people of New Hampshire to believe she’s something else.”

    The Hodes campaign, which is calling on Ayotte to remove Varsalone from her campaign and plans to continue to hammer the issue, contends the e-mails are even more relevant because Ayotte uses the death penalty case in her television ads to promote her candidacy.

    “Justice was done. And Kelly’s the one who did it,” says Briggs’s mother, Maryann Briggs, in an ad that ran in August.

    How far away is Politico, anyways?

  • susanthe

    When the cost of the Briggs case really hits the state (other states spend $22 mil on DP cases), the GOP will blame the Democrats for this, seein’ as how Lynch reappointed Ayotte to a second term.  

    • Paul Twomey

      So the people who were robbed blind by the FRM scandal can thank the political ambitions of the Attorney General for the fact that there was no one responding to the multiple signs of fraud.

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