CONCORD – The New Hampshire Liberty Alliance held its annual fundraiser, the Liberty Dinner, on Sunday, July 19th at the Bektash Shriners Center in Concord, NH. Attendance was over 200, significantly higher than the past several years. The NHLA honored a record-breaking number of pro-liberty State Representatives for their voting record in the past legislative session.
The event began with a cocktail reception, where attendees could easily meet and mingle with dozens of New Hampshire State Representatives and Senators. Bacon-wrapped scallops, chicken skewers and crudités were available on a buffet table and served throughout the hall by caterers. Attendees could also purchase raffle tickets for over 70 items donated by local businesses and craftspeople. Items included books, T-shirts, original art, liberty-themed pins, gift certificates to a local bar, handcrafted soaps, and wine.
Several Presidential campaigns purchased sponsorships. Attendees could stop by their tables to pick up campaign literature and chat with campaign staffers about the merits of their preferred Presidential contender.
Mark Edge, co-host of nationally syndicated talk radio station Free Talk Live, once again MC’ed the event. Edge urged attendees to support the fine work of the NHLA. He mentioned that he himself is a lifetime member.
After a buffet dinner, volunteers distributed copies of the 2015 Liberty Rating. The NHLA produces this document each year, assigning a letter grade from A to F to each State Representative and Senator. Grades are calculated based on how each legislator voted on a number of key bills which would impact liberty for Granite State residents. The specific bills used to calculate this year’s grades are listed in the 17-page Liberty Rating.
There is one grade even worse than an F: CT, which stands for Constitutional Threat. This is pinned on those legislators who score 0 – 14%. According to the NHLA, they are “considered unfaithful to their oath to uphold the New Hampshire Constitution and the rule of law”. Two other ignominious grades include Incomplete (for legislators who missed 50 – 69% of scored votes, or were not in office for greater than 20% of scored votes) and Dereliction of Duty (for legislators who missed at least 70% of scored votes. The NHLA’s view is that “these representatives should consider resigning so that a special election can allow their constituents to be properly represented in the House”.
An annual tradition at the Liberty Dinner is to acknowledge an Activist of the Year. This year’s winner was Bill Alleman of Weare. Alleman was honored for the many years he has spent videotaping hearings at the State House. He posts the videos on his website Adventures in the Free State. In this way, he helps to both hold legislators accountable, and to make legislative proceedings more accessible to people who can’t make it to the State House during business hours. Alleman seemed extremely touched by the award and gave a humble and heartfelt speech, dressed in his signature Hawaiian shirt.
Alleman made national headlines a year ago when he won a settlement in a civil suit against the Weare Police Department for falsely arresting him after he videotaped on-duty officers.
Legislator of the Year
One of the most anticipated moments of each year’s Liberty Dinner is the unveiling of the Legislator of the Year. For the first time ever, seven State Representatives earned perfect scores in the Liberty Rating. Some are long-time New Hampshire residents, while others moved to the state within the last decade as participants in the Free State Project. The seven included
- Rep. Daniel Itse, R – Fremont
- Rep. Keith Murphy, R – Bedford
- Rep. John Burt, R – Goffstown
- Rep. Shem Kellogg, R – Plaistow
- Rep. Michael Sylvia, R – Belmont
- Rep. Raymond Howard, Jr., R – Alton
- Rep. Eric Johnson, R – Campton
In order to select one Legislator of the Year from the seven with perfect scores, the NHLA factored in bill sponsorship. The winner was Rep. Daniel Itse, who represents the town of Fremont in Rockingham County’s District 10. Itse is serving his 8th term in the House, and previously served a two year term as the NHLA’s political director. Itse has been on the NHLA’s Five Year Honor Roll, which recognizes legislators who scored a B- or better for the past five years, every year since it was established in 2010.
Key volunteers who helped the NHLA with bill reviews and putting together the weekly Gold Standard were acknowledged and received gifts. The NHLA also commended Senator Andy Sanborn for getting the highest grade in the State Senate: A+.
A new tool available to New Hampshire liberty activists was unveiled: GenCourtMobile. Developed by an NHLA member, GCM is a mobile app that makes it easier to keep track of legislation, committee hearings, and legislator details on a smart phone. All NHLA Full and Lifetime members can get full access to the app.
Dr. Mary J. Ruwart, nationally known libertarian speaker, gave the keynote address. Ruwart spoke about “How Regulations Silently Kill Millions”. She discussed the ill effects of government regulation on the pharmaceutical industry, explaining how it has resulted in escalating costs and time frames to bring new medicines to market. She presented sobering figures demonstrating that the Federal government is responsible for literally millions of deaths of American citizens due to counterproductive “safety” regulations and the so-called “War on Drugs”.
Despite the dark subject matter of her presentation, Ruwart left the audience with a very positive message. She thanked all of the legislators in attendance and urged them to continue their work fighting for liberty. “Fighting for liberty is fighting for life”, she passionately explained.
Afterwards, attendees had the opportunity to purchase autographed copies of Ruwart’s book Healing Our World.
The New Hampshire Liberty Alliance is a non-partisan coalition working to increase individual freedom in New Hampshire. It does this by monitoring bills in the legislative sessions and encouraging private charity, a civil society, and citizen involvement.
*full disclosure – this reporter serves on the Board of Directors of the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance