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  • The New Hampshire Republican State Committee submitted this photo with a press release about Elliot Lasky, husband of outgoing State Sen. Bette Lasky (D-Nashua), who they reported to Nashua police for stealing campaign signs. Lasky lost her seat Tuesday night.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sen. Lasky: Husband sorry for taking signs, not for defending her

NASHUA – The sign wars that inevitably get more bitter as an election approaches got personal in the competitive state Senate District 13 race.

It started Sunday morning when Elliot Lasky, husband of State Sen. Bette Lasky, was spotted taking down New Hampshire GOP signs that urge voters to reject Lasky because she’ll raise taxes.

Former Republican state Rep. Lawrence Artz photographed Lasky with the signs under his left arm. The red, black and white signs read “Bette Lasky: Higher Taxes,” and the opposing party placed them near the incumbent’s.

Lasky was driving an Acura SUV with “Senate 13” license plates, according to GOP officials.

On Monday, Bette Lasky said her husband was sorry for taking the signs but he doesn’t regret defending her “character and integrity.”

“He acted in my honor. I did not send him out to do anything,” Lasky said. She described her husband’s action as “knee jerk.”

Lasky said she has suffered from “harassment, subtle and not so subtle, from all various corners of the opposition.” When her husband saw the signs Sunday, “Clearly, he just reacted,” she said.

Four mailings have also distorted her Senate record and character, including one that accused her of stealing money, she said.

Lasky said that flier was based on her accepting $1,500 more from a health care PAC than what she thought was permissible. She returned the money and reported every transaction on her campaign finance disclosure form, she said. Lasky said she couldn’t remember the name of the PAC.

“I didn’t steal anything and wasn’t hiding anything,” Lasky said. “Clearly, they wanted to make me look like I did.”

Asked if she suspected the campaign of her Republican opponent, Gary Lambert, was behind the campaign literature, Lasky said: “I won’t say, but I believe it can be stopped by the candidate…I do think there’s some culpability.”

On Monday, Lambert said he had no part in the signs, which he also said Elliot Lasky dropped off at his house Sunday evening.

Lambert said he called the state GOP to notify the group that the signs were in his driveway but does not want to get involved.

“I don’t want any part of it,” Lambert said.

The NH Democratic Party pulled the same legal sign stunt with placards that look like Republican gubernatorial candidate John Stephen’s regular campaign signs but instead warn voters about the “Stephen Property Tax Hikes.”

Earlier in the week, the NH GOP placed signs throughout the Nashua area in the colors of Democratic congressional candidate Ann McLane Kuster but mockingly warned voters about the twin ticket of “Kuster-Pelosi.”

NH GOP Communications Director Ryan Williams had a complaint filed with Nashua police over the Lasky sign swipe and demanded that they be returned.

Nashua Police Deputy Chief John Seusing said Monday that police spoke with Elliot Lasky and told him that “he shouldn’t be doing that.” Police informed Lasky the Republican Party wanted the signs back, and he did return them, Seusing said. The case is now closed, he said.

Bette Lasky said the signs were illegal because they were placed in either a city or state right-of-way. She said didn’t know exactly where they were located.

Elliot Lasky initially returned the signs to the city Department of Public Works, but late Sunday returned them to Lambert, Bette Lasky said.

Before Elliot Lasky removed the signs, NH Democratic Chair Ray Buckley’s political shop had already responded with its own negative mailing.

The mailing called on Lambert to “stop lying” about Lasky and then morphed Lambert into all of gubernatorial candidate Stephen’s negatives, such as Gov. John Lynch’s claims that Stephen would raise property taxes and savage human services.

A Lambert spokesman claimed the Democratic mailing was “100 percent false.”

“Campaigns are always difficult on a candidate’s family. A perfect example is when this past Friday evening, Judge Robert Stephen, the younger brother of Republican candidate for governor John Stephen, threatened a campaign volunteer because he was putting up Democratic signs,” Buckley said.

“Judge Stephen not only threatened the volunteer personally, he also drove to the volunteer’s place of employment to demand his firing.”

Rob Stephen could not be reached for comment. Stephen communications director Greg Moore said Rob Stephen has not been heavily involved in his brother’s campaign.

Asked if Democrats had also created false or misleading ads, Lasky said “maybe four years ago,” but the majority this election are from Republicans.

A Supreme Court decision this year permits corporations, trade associations and unions to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on political advertising.

Lasky said this ruling has allowed “smear campaigns, distortions and lies” to be perpetuated.

“The outside money has been outrageous,” she said. “It has allowed everyone to make signs.”

Kevin Landrigan can be reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com. and Albert McKeon can be reached at 594-5832 or amckeon@nashuatelegraph.com