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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Transgender felon from Nashua to ask election officials if she can run for state representative

CONCORD – Stacie Laughton, the first openly transgender legislator elected in the U.S., said she’ll ask the state election tribunal to rule on whether she can run for a Ward 4 seat in the state House of Representatives.

The saga over Laughton’s eligibility to serve in the Legislature after a 2008 felony conviction for credit card fraud and other charges continued Friday when Secretary of State Bill Gardner reiterated that Laughton can’t be a candidate. ...

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CONCORD – Stacie Laughton, the first openly transgender legislator elected in the U.S., said she’ll ask the state election tribunal to rule on whether she can run for a Ward 4 seat in the state House of Representatives.

The saga over Laughton’s eligibility to serve in the Legislature after a 2008 felony conviction for credit card fraud and other charges continued Friday when Secretary of State Bill Gardner reiterated that Laughton can’t be a candidate.

Laughton, of Nashua, said she will write to the Ballot Law Commission to issue a final judgment in this case. Under
state law, the commission is the final arbiter on all candidacies, as its decisions can’t be appealed to state courts.

“I’ve done everything the judge and the Department of Corrections has asked me to do,” Laughton said. “I think it’s totally unfair to deny me my right to run.”

Laughton was sentenced to 71⁄2 to 15 years for the credit card charge, but it was suspended pending 10 years of good behavior.

She received a sentence of 31⁄2 to seven years for falsifying physical evidence, but that also was suspended pending good behavior.

Prior to the sentence, Laughton had spent 41⁄2 months in county jail.

The charges were levied when Laughton was Barry Charles Laughton Jr. But that’s not the name Laughton used to run and win a seat in the House in the 2012 election without the conviction becoming public.

After state Republican and Democratic leaders called on Laughton to step down, she resigned. A few months later, she ran in the special election for the same seat.

Attorney General Michael Delaney issued the opinion that Laughton couldn’t be a candidate until she had satisfied all of the terms of her felony conviction.

This time, Laughton said, she isn’t backing down.

“That is only an opinion of the attorney general; this is why I feel the Ballot Law Commission needs to settle this once and for all,” Laughton said.

Nashua City Clerk Paul Bergeron informed Gardner that Laughton had come in to sign up.

In his letter to Gardner, Bergeron pointed out that the attorney general had said in his Dec. 31, 2012, opinion that the Ballot Law Commission should settle the matter.

But the commission dropped it after Laughton resigned her seat.

Bergeron also wrote that Laughton is determined this time, and wrote in her declaration form, “I further declare that if nominated as a candidate for said office, I will not withdraw and that if elected, I will be qualified and will assume the duties of said office.”

Gardner said the commission would decide the matter, but that the law appears clear to him.

“I told her that if she went to the court and got them to confirm she has fully discharged her sentence, then she could be a candidate,” Gardner said.

“As with all matters like this, the Ballot Law Commission will make the final call if it comes to them.”

Kevin Landrigan can reached at
321-7040 or klandrigan@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Landrigan on Twitter (@Klandrigan).