House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt (R-Salem) has announced that he will not be seeking re-election to the House and will be resigning from the House effective June 6.
Here is his statement in full regarding his resignation:
While its has been an honor to serve in the legislature representing the citizens of Salem and Windham and to serve as Majority Leader, it is time for me to move on to the next exciting phase of my life. I'm getting married next week and I am at a point in my life where my family should and needs to be my first priority. It is also critical that I am able to focus my full attention on my role as Executive Director of the New Hampshire Legal Rights Foundation. This cannot happen while there is the potential for conflict with my role as a member of the House. As such, I will not be running for for re-election this fall and will be leaving the legislature at the conclusion of legislative business on June 6th so I can finish the important work of this legislative session. Once again, I'd like to thank my constituents for the honor of serving them and to my colleagues in the House who I have had the pleasure of working with over the last eight years.
Bettencourt, 28, was first elected to the House at the age of 20 in 2004. He is presently in his fourth term in the House.
The New Hampshire Legal Rights Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to reducing government burdens and defending human and civil rights, according to its website.
Its board of directors: Chairman Tim Condon, a lawyer; Treasurer Bob Hull, the national advertising director for the Free State Project, state Rep. Paul Mirski, R-Enfield, serving as treasurer; and House Speaker William L. O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon, serving as vice chairman.
Its website lists the NHLRF's office at 12 Liberty Lane in Grafton, N.H., Hull's address, according to Speaker O'Brien's campaign finances, to which Hull contributed $500 in 2010.
The New Hampshire Legal Rights Foundation, just last week, opposed the nomination of Jim Bassett to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, based partly on his calling the court's Claremont school-funding opinions "carefully crafted." The all-Republican Executive Council confirmed Bassett this week, with one dissent.
Bettencourt, who recently graduated from the University of New Hampshire School of Law, is an alternate delegate to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
In a follow-up phone interview with Patch Friday, Bettencourt said he will be the spokesman for the NHLRF in his new job and will also be fundraising on their behalf. This caused the potential for conflict of interest he stated above.
He acknowledged O'Brien was a founding member of NHLRF but said O'Brien has been "far less active" with the organziation since becoming speaker.
Bettencourt's announcement comes the same day the Union Leader provided more details about the recent resignation of former O'Brien chief of staff and House Majority Office staffer Robert Mead. The ethics of Mead getting reimbursed for mileage while traveling to and from GOP events where he is believed to have been recruiting candidates for the Legislature has come under fire.
Bettencourt called assertions that his resignation is tied to the Mead situation "very silly."
Bettencourt said his "obligation is to my soon-to-be wife and future family. I loved serving in the Legislature. I will miss my colleagues and I will miss serving the people of Salem and Windham."
He said his work on the state budget has been his biggest accomplishment in the House. He added he never backed away from taking what might have been an unpopular position on an issue.
"I looked at whether it was the right thing to do for New Hampshire and my constituents," he said.
When asked about his status as a "lightning rod" during a contentious time in the Legislature, Bettencourt reiterated that he always tried to do what was right.
"The Democrats and I had many disagreements," Bettencourt said. "But I have a tremendous amount of respect for my Democrat colleagues."
Bettencourt said he would not rule out running for elected office again in the future.
“I want to thank D.J. Bettencourt for his service to our state and for his leadership in Concord. With his help, our Republican legislature has been turning the economy around and has reduced the state’s bloated budget," said N.H. GOP Chairman Wayne MacDonald in a statement Friday night.
“D.J. is one of the young, principled and energetic leaders in our state, and I know he has a bright future ahead of him whether it is in politics, government or the private sector. I wish him the best of luck,” he said.
State Rep. , R-Henniker, the assistant deputy majority leader, said she was "thrilled" for Bettencourt and "wished him the very best' in his future ventures.
"Serving in the Legislature is a sacrifice we willfully make in order to make our state the absolute best in the nation for our citizens," she said. "Yet, at some point, all volunteer elected officials need to step back and let someone else take their turn. DJ has given so much, and we appreciate his years of commitment and service."