Valley News right to know email request highlights Commissioner Edelblut using position to personally help extreme Free Stater, secessionist leader gain job directing K-12 educational programs in New Hampshire; Governor Sununu also previously considered a Free Stater for NH Education Commissioner
*** Note: Underwood is a Free State Project leader as well as Board Member of FSP-run group The Foundation for New Hampshire Independence which is actively organizing for New Hampshire to secede from the United States ***
CONCORD, NH – The Valley News reported over the weekend that Republican Governor Chris Sununu’s Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut used his position to personally help submit the application of prominent Free State Project and secessionist leader Ian Underwood for an internal job posting at the NH Department of Education.
Valley News, Education Chief Edelblut Used Position to Help Croydon Board Member’s Husband, Saturday, March 25, 2017: “Records obtained through a right-to-know request by the Valley News point to a working relationship over the past year between Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut and a member of the Croydon School Board, which most recently included helping her husband apply for a job at the state Department of Education … A string of emails from earlier this month indicates that he forwarded a government job listing to Jody Underwood, a former chairwoman of the Croydon School Board who still sits on the panel, and then passed an application from her husband, Ian Underwood, to a Department of Education human resources administrator. The position, listed as “Education Consultant III,” pays between $56,000 and $76,000 a year. The job posting says the consultant will “plan, develop and coordinate educational programs for K-12 educators and other stakeholders in the state in the areas of academic standards, instruction and assessment.” The position appears to have been listed internally at the time that Ian Underwood applied, on March 11, and was forwarded to Jody Underwood three days earlier by Edelblut through his Department of Education email account.” Read the full article.
Edelblut last year sponsored a bill that would have legalized the Croydon School Board’s practice of sending children to private schools using public taxpayer dollars. Earlier this month the Valley News broke the story that Edelblut had also donated $1,000 to the board’s legal defense against a lawsuit brought by the state Department of Education, which he now leads. Edelblut never offered the information during his public confirmation hearing and refused several times to directly answer Valley News reporter questions on the topic. Edelblut only acknowledged the donation after Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky (D) responded to the news reports by making a formal inquiry.
In January, the Underwoods also left out the financial connection while testifying on Edelblut’s behalf during his confirmation hearings; more recently the Croydon School Board refused to answer a Valley News right to know request regarding the donations. Granite State Progress highlighted in early February that Governor Sununu apparently considered Jody Underwood for the position of NH Commissioner of Education. At the time Granite State Progress called for Sununu and Edelblut to publicly state whether they planned to consider the Underwoods for any other positions at the Department of Education, at the same time the couple is pushing for New Hampshire to secede from the United States.
Further reading on Governor Sununu, Commissioner Edelblut’s deep FSP connections:
- Granite State Progress: Breaking: Governor Sununu Considered Free State Project Member Jody Underwood for NH Education Commissioner, February 6, 2017 (includes details on Free State Project and off-shoot secessionist planning group)
- Valley News: Croydon Won’t Release Names of Donors to Legal Fund in School Choice Case, March 14, 2017
- Valley News: New Hampshire Education Commissioner Donated to Croydon School Board’s Legal Defense, March 15, 2017
- Valley News: Education Chief Edelblut Used Position to Help Croydon Board Member’s Husband, March 25, 2017
Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:
“Every Granite Stater should be concerned about the cozy relationship between Governor Sununu, Frank Edelblut, and members of the extreme Free State Project who moved here with the stated purpose to take over state government and dismantle it. These are not individuals who should be promoted to positions of power or directing our children’s education, especially Ian Underwood who is actively organizing for New Hampshire to secede from the United States. What in the world are Governor Sununu and Commissioner Edelblut thinking? Commissioner Edelblut was confirmed by the Executive Council over the strong objections of parents and educators and in his first weeks in office has already validated those deep concerns. Councilors Kenney, Prescott, and Wheeler – along with Governor Sununu – are completely responsible for the shady connections, hidden agendas, and purposeful lack of transparency that Edelblut has produced in just the first month.”
Granite State Progress is a multi-issue advocacy organization focused on 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. Online at www.GraniteStateProgress.org