Giuda: Bettencourt Reports 'Scary'
Brandon Giuda hopes this ordeal will be to D.J. Bettencourt's long-term benefit.
The Chichester Republican who confronted former House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt about falsified "externship" reports to the UNH School of Law has no regrets about his own handling of the situation.
Rep. Brandon Giuda, a lawyer, businessman and attendee of the U.S. Naval Academy with 29 years of military service, told Patch Wednesday he instead feels sadness for Bettencourt, whom Giuda hopes will come out of the experience a better man.
Bettencourt resigned from the House Sunday after Giuda said Bettencourt, R-Salem, submitted bogus reports to the law school detailing 11 weeks of work at Giuda's solo law office that never actually happened.
WMUR reported Bettencourt's resignation letter was read to the House Wednesday, in which he admitted to an "inexcusable lapse in judgment and integrity."
Giuda said Bettencourt originally approached him in February about completing an "externship," which is akin to an internship, needed for his graduation. Giuda was at first hesitant given his solo practice, but eventually agreed.
According to Giuda, Bettencourt drafted a contract regarding the externship but Giuda asked it be reworked as the original language was "ambiguous." Giuda eventually signed the contract when he felt comfortable with the language.
Giuda said the agreement was for Bettencourt to work from 1 to 5 p.m. each Friday. After not showing up the first two weeks, Giuda said Bettencourt did come the third week.
"I got him here for two-and-a-half hours," Giuda said. "He was supposed to be here for four hours, but then his phone was ringing and he had to go."
Giuda gave Bettencourt credit for one hour of work, as they spent the other 90 minutes discussing legislative matters. That was the only time Giuda said Bettencourt worked for him.
"I didn't hear from him again," Giuda said. "We're busy over there in the Legislature and I'd assumed that he'd gone to the school, like he should have, and said, 'Look, I just can't do this. I'm not going to be able to graduate, we'll have to extend it a semester or something.'"
In addition to his work in the Legislature and the law practice, Giuda said he operates two food service businesses with his wife and works in construction.
"I'm not going to babysit anybody," Giuda said.
He added he did not have contact with anyone from the UNH School of Law during that time.
On May 19, Giuda was on Facebook and saw photos of Bettencourt in a cap and gown along with a proclamation that he was graduating from law school.
"Right then, I knew," Giuda said.
Giuda got in touch with officials at the law school and requested a look at the reports Bettencourt had submitted regarding the externship. He was told Bettencourt's reports were confidential, but the school said they would ask Bettencourt to release the reports to Giuda.
Shortly thereafter, Giuda said Bettencourt contacted him. When Giuda explained why he wanted to see the reports, Bettencourt apologized and agreed to provide them.
"He said to me, 'You can't tell the law school,'" Giuda said. "He said, 'I'll do anything. I will work for you for free for six months.'"
Giuda was shocked by what he saw in the reports.
"There were 11 reports filed," Giuda said. "The detail in the reports is scary, and none of it is true. He details court hearings, he details clients, he details everything."
From there, Giuda requested a meeting with House Speaker William O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon. He told the speaker last Friday he wanted Bettencourt to resign immediately and state it was due to "personal problems." In addition, he wanted Bettencourt to offer a "complete and open confession" to the law school regarding his conduct.
"It was important to me D.J. not try to spin this, as he likes to do," Giuda said. "I thought it was really important we try to keep the caucus together because this is such an important week."
Giuda said he does not believe O'Brien or anyone other than Bettencourt had prior knowledge about the false reports.
According to Giuda, however, Bettencourt did not "comply with his side of the deal." He announced he would step down June 6, citing his new job with the New Hampshire Legal Rights Foundation and his family.
Giuda said that once the press became aware of the law school issue and questions started being asked on Saturday, he was not satisfied with Bettencourt's explanation that he'd contacted the law school because of a "dispute" over the externship.
"A dispute means there is a question," Giuda said. "There's no question. You lied, I don't."
He gave Bettencourt an ultimatum: resign immediately, or the false reports would become public.
"This is a major problem, not an innocuous lie," Giuda said. "This is a premeditated, fraudulent act over 11 weeks. The first thing is you have to admit it. He still hadn't done that."
Giuda issued the ultimatum both because he hoped "it would force (Bettencourt) to reflect upon his life and move forward in a positive manner" and the need to move on with legislative business this week.
Giuda said Bettencourt still had a couple of reports to be filed and once all the reports were filed, his understanding is the school would have contacted him to review the reports.
"If that's the case, then I have no idea (why he would do this)," Giuda said.
Giuda has no regrets about how he handled the situation. Where he feels regret is for Bettencourt.
"I hope this is a strong enough kick in the gut for this kid that he realizes he cannot go through life deceiving people and have a sense of honor," Giuda said.
In the halls of Concord this week, Giuda said most people who've approached him have told him he did the right thing.
Giuda does not believe Bettencourt's situation is a reflection of House Republicans. It is instead a reflection on an individual, he said.
"I pray that at some point in the future (Bettencourt) looks back and realizes I did him a favor," Giuda said.
Bettencourt did not respond to a request for comment on this story Wednesday.