Governor Sununu Handpicked Education Commissioner’s Latest Political Ploy: Candidate Roundtable with Far-Right School Committee Candidates

Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut is hosting a “Manchester Education Roundtable” with conservative candidates for School Committee, and he’s doing it on taxpayer time

Concord, NH – Governor Chris Sununu’s handpicked Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut is once again using his Commissioner position to engage in politics, this time participating in a one-sided Manchester Board of School Committee candidate forum hosted by candidate Jon DiPietro, an anti-Common Core activist and frequent guest on conservative talk show Girard at Large. Candidates who disagree with Edelblut and DiPietro on education policy did not receive direct invitations to participate. Invited Manchester Board of School Committee candidates include Richard H. Girard, the incumbent At-Large member; Joseph Lachance, the challenger in Ward 1; Lisa M Freeman, the incumbent in Ward 5; and event organizer Jon DiPietro, the challenger in Ward 6.

EventBrite: Manchester Education Roundtable With Commissioner Edelblut

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins: “There is no way that Commissioner Edelblut’s participation and remarks don’t in some way seek to influence the outcome of the Manchester school committee elections. Any position the Commissioner does or does not take will inevitably carry the weight of his office to promote or discredit a candidate’s opinion. The fact that only certain candidates who agree with him have been directly invited only further highlights the misuse of his office to advance a far-right ideology. Commissioner Edelblut is abusing taxpayer time and money by engaging in partisan politics in his official capacity. Governor Sununu has a responsibility to keep his leadership team focused on addressing issues facing Granite Staters, not participating in political events. Edelblut continues to put his personal politics and ambitions over the best interests of Granite State students and families, and Governor Sununu is endorsing his behavior by not putting an immediate stop to it.”

About the Candidate Roundtable, Edelblut’s Record of Partisanship:

The event details state that “the Commissioner and candidates will hold a roundtable discussion on several topics of particular relevance to Manchester School District.” The topics include “Title I funding, special education, cost downshifting, standardized testing, and parental rights and involvement.” Commissioner Edelblut is not an elected official and New Hampshire commissioners typically don’t engage in politics in their official roles – although Commissioner Edelblut has frequently done so with Governor Chris Sununu’s blessing.

Less than a year into his position as Education Commissioner, Edelblut has made waves for trying to re-open the Next Generation Science Standards that were just approved last year; he initially refused to come clean about making a donation to a school privatization lawsuit against the Department he now leads; he forwarded an internal education department job posting to one of his Free State Project friends and then sent that individual’s resume to the HR director (that individual is also on the Board of an off-shoot group literally organizing for New Hampshire to secede from the rest of the country); he is using his position to lobby for SB 193, school vouchers/privatization; he tried to usurp the State Board of Education’s rule-making responsibilities by injecting himself between the State Board and JLCAR – without informing the State Board; and he regularly uses his role as Commissioner to engage in partisan politics.

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Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

ICYMI: Former President of Free State Project Condemns House Speaker Shawn Jasper, Calls for New Hampshire to Secede

Former FSP President opposes House Speaker Shawn Jasper’s call for GOP to “distance ourselves from the Free State Project” – then doubles down on secession

Concord, NH – Carla Gericke, president emeritus of the Free State Project, condemns House Speaker Shawn Jasper (R) in an op-ed in the Union Leader today titled “Another View, with Carla Gericke: Jasper wrong to dismiss Free State Project.” In the opinion piece, Gericke touts how many Free State Project members have already moved to New Hampshire and openly advocates for secession, stating:

“Some, like me, are interested in states’ rights, nullification, and independence, even, possibly, eventually “divorcing” from the increasingly intrusive and bullying federal government.” – Carla Gericke, Union Leader, 9/28/17

Gericke is president of the Free State Project off-shoot group the Foundation for NH Independence – which is actively organizing for secession. Her op-ed is in response to Speaker Jasper’s recent remarks that the NH GOP should “distance ourselves from the Free State Project.” Jasper and other prominent Republicans made the comments after an expose by Granite State Progress on the hidden agenda of Free State Project members.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“From the original concept paper to its off-shoot groups NH Exit and NH Foundation for Independence, the Free State Project has always embraced the idea of moving enough people to New Hampshire to threaten secession from the rest of the country. The Free State Project candidates running for state house or municipal office don’t openly share those or other extreme views when campaigning for office, which is why Granite State Progress created Free State Project Watch to better educate voters and constituents. We also keep a close watch on how people who moved here as part of the Free State Project seek to undermine the quality of life in our state in other ways, including but not limited to their extreme antics in Keene and elsewhere.”

“It’s time for more leaders in New Hampshire to stand up and publicly condemn the extreme views and politics of those who participate in the Free State Project.”

For more information

Granite State Progress Releases List of 13 Free State Project Candidates Running for Municipal Office in Manchester, September 13

Breaking: House Speaker Shawn Jasper Condemns Free State Project Electeds, Manchester Candidates Calling for Secession, September 14

NH Primary Source: Key Republicans at odds after Free State Project candidates disclosed, September 21

A Dozen Free State Project Candidates Advance to Manchester Municipal General Election Amid NH GOP Divide Over Secession, September 21

NH Primary Source: Speaker Jasper calls on NHGOP to ‘distance ourselves’ from Free State Project, September 21

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Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

Granite State Progress Statement on Governor Sununu’s Dubious Millennial Advisory Council

Sketchy timeline for Sununu’s new “Millennial Advisory Council” draws concerns it is just a pretense to promote Sununu’s latest pet projects

Concord, NH – Governor Chris Sununu first announced a Millennial Advisory Council just last Thursday, along with information on how to apply. The first meeting is scheduled for this Wednesday, September 27th at 6:00 PM in the Executive Council chambers – begging the question about who would have had an opportunity to apply, be selected, and set aside time to participate in the supposedly open and non-political 25-member advisory council in less than a week’s time.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“If Governor Sununu was truly interested in hearing from young leaders and creating a functioning Millennial Advisory Council, he would take the time to gather applications and make thoughtful, balanced appointments. How can you ask people to apply one week and have the first meeting the next? This appears to all be a pretense for Governor Sununu to stack the advisory council with appointees who will serve as rubber stamps for his latest pet projects.”

“A Millennial Advisory Council could be a wonderful tool for New Hampshire. A key first step to engaging millennials would be to acknowledge their contributions and good ideas. We encourage Governor Sununu to stop playing politics and instead really invest in the diverse opinions of young adults in our state.”

In his proclamation and media statement, Governor Sununu did not give any credit or thank you to the young leaders behind his new Millennial Advisory Council. Back in June, graduates of the Class of 2017 Leadership Mount Washington Valley Community Connections first urged Governor Sununu to form just such a council, even calling it the Millennial Advisory Council.

The Governor’s Millennial Advisory Council is to consist of 25 members, all selected by the Governor. The first report is due on December 1st.

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Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

A Dozen Free State Project Candidates Advance to Manchester Municipal General Election Amid NH GOP Divide Over Secession

Free State Project members running for political office often hide or deny their FSP affiliation; Granite State Progress’ Free State Project Watch exposes those connections; In response to report, WMUR NH Primary Source covers NH GOP divide over whether to support Free State Project candidates, some of whom are openly organizing for secession

Concord, NH – At least a dozen Free State Project candidates will advance to the Manchester municipal general election in November, according to Granite State Progress’ Free State Project Watch. Andre Rosa, the only Free State Project member candidate with a contested primary, narrowly lost his primary bid to represent Ward 11 on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Granite State Progress highlighted Rosa’s participation in the Free State Project in a press release last week; Rosa subsequently lost placing on the ballot by only 14 votes [148-162].

Meanwhile, WMUR NH Primary Source reported today that prominent members of the New Hampshire Republican Party are clashing over Granite State Progress’ report on Free State Project candidates.

“Free State Project candidates running for state house or municipal office don’t openly share their extreme views when campaigning for office, which is why Granite State Progress created Free State Project Watch to better educate voters and constituents. Free Staters moved to New Hampshire as part of a group with the stated purpose to take over state government and dismantle it, and to use the threat of secession once they meet their initial goals. Members of the media and public are strongly encouraged to ask Free State Project candidates whether they disclose their FSP affiliation in campaign materials and, if not, why,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “It is heartening to see Republican leaders in the state join their Democratic counterparts in raising serious concerns about the Free State Project and its goals. We urge NH GOP Chair Jeanie Forrester to listen to the concerns of leadership and rank and file members, and to stop recruiting Free Staters as candidates for office.”

Previous press releases:

Granite State Progress Releases List of 13 Free State Project Candidates Running for Municipal Office in Manchester, Thursday, September 14, 2017

Breaking: House Speaker Shawn Jasper Condemns Free State Project Electeds, Manchester Candidates Calling for Secession, Friday, September 15, 2017

Free State Project member candidates in Manchester general election by ward and office, including links to Granite State Progress’ Free State Project Watch profile on each candidate:

Ward 3: Selectman candidate Phillip Harris

Ward 3: School Committee candidate Phillip Harris

Ward 4: Moderator candidate Colin Gibson

Ward 4: Clerk candidate Holly Beene Seal

Ward 5: Aldermanic candidate Cameron Barr*

Ward 5: Selectman candidate Cameron Barr*

Ward 5: Selectman candidate Michael Garcia*

Ward 6: Clerk candidate Chandler Blair Gabel*

Ward 8: Selectman candidate William Cerf*

Ward 10: Aldermanic candidate Tammy Simmons (Honorary FSP member)

Ward 10: Clerk candidate Merav Yaakov

Ward 11: Selectman candidate Andrew Vermiglio*

Ward 11: Selectman candidate Alexander Avery

Ward 11: School Committee candidate Alexander Avery

Ward 12: Selectman candidate Clarence Gardner*

* Free State Project members with additional roles or volunteer lead assignments with NH Exit or Foundation for New Hampshire Independence, Free State Project off-shoot groups specifically dedicated to organizing for New Hampshire to secede from the United States, in addition to the Free State Project itself threatening secession. See full candidate profiles for more details.

The Free State Project candidate list is part of the Free State Project Watch of Granite State Progress, and can be found online at https://freestateprojectwatch.org/. Granite State Progress released similar candidate lists during the 2012, 2014, and 2016 general elections, and reviews municipal candidate filings periodically.

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Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

Breaking: House Speaker Shawn Jasper Condemns Free State Project Electeds, Manchester Candidates Calling for Secession

Republican House Speaker Shawn Jasper responds to a research brief by Granite State Progress on 13 Free State Project candidates running for office in Manchester – some of whom are openly organizing for secession; Meanwhile, NH GOP Chair Jeanie Forrester is openly courting Free State Project candidates for offices up and down the ticket

Concord, NH – Yesterday, Granite State Progress released a list of thirteen Free State Project members running for municipal office in Manchester. Today, House Speaker Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson) reacted to the fact that nearly half of the Free State Project candidates identified are members of active secessionist movements linked to the Free State Project.

“Doesn’t it concern you that 5 of these candidates want NH to withdraw from the United States of America? … I would never consider voting for anyone who doesn’t believe in being part of the USA. I am a proud American! … [State Rep. and Free Stater] Dan Hynes suppoting [sic] the constitutions of the USA and the State of NH are part of the oath of office for all offices in NH, so if your goal is to get NH out of the USA and you are elected and take the oath of office, then you lack integrity. ” – Facebook, House Speaker Shawn Jasper, 9/15/17

Current State House Representatives Josh Moore, Dan Hynes, and Keith Murphy defended the Free State Project municipal candidates on the same thread; Hynes and Murphy are also members of the Free State Project. Full quotes below, along with a copy of the Granite State Progress research brief on the Free State Project candidates running for office.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“We thank Speaker Jasper for standing by the constitution and rejecting the growing secessionist movement cultivated by the Free State Project. From the original concept paper to its off-shoot groups NH Exit and NH Foundation for Independence, the Free State Project has always embraced the idea of moving enough people to New Hampshire to threaten secession from the rest of the country. The Free State Project candidates running for state house or municipal office don’t openly share those or other extreme views when campaigning for office, which is why Granite State Progress created Free State Project Watch to better educate voters and constituents.”

“We call on NH GOP Chair Jeanie Forrester, who has embraced the Free State Project and spoke at a recent FSP conference encouraging them to run for offices up and down the ticket, to also reject these extreme candidates. It’s shocking that Chair Forrester is willing to turn a blind eye to the hidden agenda of the Free State Project for short-term political gain. Republicans in towns like Bedford and elsewhere have already identified the threat that such extreme views have on the quality of life in New Hampshire.”

The Free State Project was in the news twice recently for the actions of its recruits: Chris Cantwell, the white supremacist featured in national news originally came to New Hampshire as part of the Free State Project before his calls to kill police officers got him shunned from the group. Free State Project State Rep. Eric Schleien was recently charged with sexual assault of a minor.


Excerpts from the Facebook timeline & exchange:

Free State Project member and State Representative Dan Hynes (R-Merrimack) reposted the Granite State Progress Free State Project Watch research brief.

Speaker of the House Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson) posted: “Doesn’t it concern you that 5 of these candidates want NH to withdraw from the United States of America?” and “I would never consider voting for anyone who doesn’t believe in being part of the USA. I am a proud American!”

State Rep. Hynes, FSP “No because there is no chance of that happening, but I would have to look at the pros and cons of it anyway if ti [sic] actually went to vote. They really wouldn’t be able to do that while serving a city position anyway.”

Speaker Jasper: “WOW, just wow! It is not about what people can do, it is about what they want to do that matters.”

Speaker Jasper: “Dan Hynes suppoting [sic] the constitutions of the USA and the State of NH are part of the oath of office for all offices in NH, so if your goal is to get NH out of the USA and you are elected and take the oath of office, then you lack integrity.”

State Rep. Hynes, FSP: “Shawn Jasper Art 10 of NH constitution I believe supports it. I support the State constitution per my oath. Also I don’t see anywhere in the US constitution where it says a state who joins cannot later secede [sic]. Also I support the 10th amendment which the fed gov has destroyed over the last hundred or so years.”

Also expressing support for secessionists were Free State Project member and State Representative Keith Murphy (R-Bedford) and State Representative Josh Moore (R-Merrimack).

State Rep. Murphy, FSP: “If I have to choose between any of these people and a ‘make the state bigger’ democratic socialist, I’ll choose these candidates every time,” and “I’m not a Manchester resident, but good luck to these guys.”

State Rep. Josh Moore had initially indicated support, posting “I’m more concerned with people running who claim to stand for limited government and vote for bigger government. At least FSP fights hard to make policy changes and stands by their word.”

Speaker Jasper responded: “Josh Moore I just hope that you make it clear to your constituents that you support candidates who don’t support the USA, so long as they also promise to cut the size of government.”

Moore backpedaled, posting “I never said I supported anyone. I said people in the FSP keep their word and fight for what they believe in.”

Jasper responded “Josh Moore Exactly my point, they are promising to fight to get NH out of the USA. You are making a distinction without a difference.”


Read original GSP Report about Free State Project candidates running for office in Manchester

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Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.