NEW DOCUMENTS PROVE HASSAN AND VAN OSTERN LIED ABOUT DARTMOUTH HITCHCOCK CONTRACT
Court-Ordered Release of Documents Show Hassan, Van Ostern Knew About Dartmouth Layoffs Before They Were Announced
PRESS CONTACT: Ross Berry, Press@nhgop.org
Concord- Today New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chair Jennifer Horn released documents that show that Governor Maggie Hassan and Councilor Colin Van Ostern lied when they said that they did not know about the recent Dartmouth-Hitchcock lay-offs before they were publicly announced by the company. The documents – released as a result of the NHGOP lawsuit against the Hassan administration – clearly show emails and a text that reference the lay-offs that were sent days before the public announcement.
The timing of this lay-off announcement became an issue when Dartmouth-Hitchcock deliberately delayed it until after the Executive Council voted on its controversial $36 million contract to run New Hampshire Hospital. The lay-offs were announced on September 9, two days after the Council passed the contract on September 7.
Coming under fire, both Governor Hassan and Councilor Van Ostern denied knowing about the lay-offs before they were announced by the company.
The NHGOP filed a series of Right-to-Know requests for all documents related to these lay-offs. After stonewalling, the Hassan Administration finally released documents that were heavily redacted. The NHGOP retained the services of former congressman Chuck Douglas and took the Governor to court over these redactions. In response Judge Richard B. McNamara ordered the state to produce what is known as a Vaughn Index, which contains a description of the document redacted, the subject matter, and the state’s justification for the redactions.
The documents produced by the Hassan Administration, as a result of this court order, clearly show that members of the Hassan administration knew about the lay-offs days before the official announcement and were discussing it amongst themselves:
On September 6, 2016, there was a series of emails between Jacqueline House, Michael Power, Jeffery Rose, Carmen Lorentz, and William Hinkle with the subject line “re: D-H Layoffs”. Note that this was the day before the Council voted on the Dartmouth-Hitchcock contract and three days before the company made its official announcement.
Note that William Hinkle is the governor’s spokesman, and he is later quoted as saying that the governor did not receive any advance notice of the lay-offs. Jeff Rose is the commissioner for DRED, and would be involved in any announcement of lay-offs, as would Michael Power, who heads the unit with DRED that is responsible for the rapid response effort the state launches in response to lay-offs, retraining workers and otherwise providing assistance.
On September 8, 2016 at 3:45pm, there was a text from Councilor Van Ostern to Hassan chief of staff Pam Walsh with the subject “re: notice of Dartmouth-Hitchcock layoff”. This is the day after the vote, but the day before the official announcement.
After Dartmouth-Hitchcock publicly announced the lay-offs, both Hassan and Van Ostern denied knowing about it beforehand:
Gov. Maggie Hassan’s office similarly learned about the planned layoffs Friday, spokesman William Hinkle said. Hassan, a Democrat now running for U.S. Senate, called it “disappointing and troubling news.” (Concord Monitor, 9/10)
“The governor is mobilizing the state’s Rapid Response Team to provide all possible assistance to affected workers once the layoffs take place. Gov. Hassan remains disappointed by Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s announcement, and the Governor’s Office did not receive any information regarding the layoffs prior to the announcement,” Hinkle added. (WMUR, 9/19/16)
QUESTION: I did want to touch on the controversy surrounding the Dartmouth-Hitchcock contract to run the state’s mental health hospital. Dartmouth-Hitchcock announcing it would lay off up to 460 employees just days after you and the other Executive Councilors voted to give them that $36 million contract. Did you have any idea that the layoffs were coming, and, if not, do you feel the council was misled?
VAN OSTERN: “We were not notified and I’m disappointed to hear about the layoffs. But I also pushed very hard to make sure that this contract has specific staffing requirements, which, frankly, can’t be relaxed, regardless of the layoffs. (NHPR, 9/15/16)
In response to this revelation NHGOP Chair Jennifer Horn released the following statement:
‘It is absolutely stunning that Governor Hassan and Councilor Van Ostern blatantly lied to the people of New Hampshire. It has been clear from the start that they were bound and determined to deliver this $36 million contract to one of their top donors and that they would go to any length to get it done. They knew that Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s layoff announcement would torpedo the contract and they deliberately kept it from the people of New Hampshire until after the Council voted. After the news broke, they blatantly lied and said that they did not know about it beforehand. To make matters even worse, in addition to lying, Hassan has engaged in nothing short of political cover-up, delaying the release of documents and then heavily redacting them, trying to hide behind executive privilege. It took a court order to get her to produce these documents, and now we know what they were trying to hide them: these documents are the smoking gun.”
“Governor Hassan’s administration has been engulfed in Clintonesque scandals and cover-ups. She has engaged in pay-to-play, rewarding her campaign donors with billions of dollars of no bid state contracts. She has been caught accepting tens of thousands of dollars of illegal campaign contributions. She lied about using taxpayer funds for her out-of-state political travel to fundraisers for her senate campaign. Her administration was even caught engaging in collusion, rigging the bidding process to ensure that her campaign donors got state contracts. And when caught she has lied, stonewalled, and tried to prevent the release of public documents. This is corruption and cover-up of the worst sort, and it is exactly what Hillary Clinton would do.”