The Democratic Primary for NH’s First Congressional District just took a very nasty turn.
The Shawn O’Connor campaign sent out an email and corresponding petition claiming the Carol Shea-Porter campaign is going around telling people that O’Connor is “a perpetrator of domestic violence.”
“Ms. Shea-Porter’s campaign has repeatedly called her primary opponent, Shawn O’Connor, ‘a perpetrator of domestic violence,’” wrote the O’Connor campaign.
This news came as a shock to many people including myself. I have known Carol Shea-Porter and her campaign staff for the better part of a decade, and this is completely out of character for her. So I contacted both campaigns for more information.
The O’Connor campaign told me that Shea-Porter’s campaign manager Naomi Andrews communicated this rumor to Julia Barnes, the former NH for Bernie campaign director, at an event in January. O’Connor’s campaign also claimed that this rumor was repeated to former Senator Jackie Cilley and Senator David Pierce by people who have supported Shea-Porter’s campaign in the past.
After getting O’Connor’s side of the story, I reached out to Julia Barnes and Naomi Andrews for their comment. While I was unable to reach Ms. Barnes, she did post her very strong support for Carol Shea-Porter.
Ms. Andrews immediately denied these claims stating, “This is just a sad and desperate attack. Nothing more needs to be said.”
O’Connor’s campaign second claim was that Caroline French, a well know local Democrat, also repeated this rumor to Jackie Cilley.
I spoke with Ms. French directly and she was shocked to hear what they were claiming and that she was somehow connected to this. She knew nothing of this. She only marginally remembered hearing something about O’Connor being the victim of domestic abuse and never said he was “perpetrator of domestic violence.”
In a response to WMUR, Jackie Cilley said, “’There is no doubt in my mind that Shawn O’Connor has been slimed with being the perpetrator of domestic violence,’ through rumors circulating in Stafford County.” Cilley continued to say that she “heard rumors about [O’Connor]” but as WMUR clearly pointed out, “Cilley stressed several times, she has received no indication that Shea-Porter or her campaign staff is the source of any sort of whispering campaign.”
Lastly, the O’Connor campaign claimed that another local member of “Team Shea Porter” shared this rumor with State Senator David Pierce. O’Connor’s campaign claimed that this person even went as far as to admit this rumor was a lie being pushed by Shea-Porter’s campaign.
After multiple attempts via phone, email, and social media, Sen.Pierce has yet to respond to me with any comment at all.
The O’Connor campaign did release a statement that Sen.Pierce affirmed that a “member of Team Shea-Porter” had told him this rumor directly. “I spoke to a member of Team Shea Porter who told me a number of allegations against Shawn, including that he was a perpetrator of domestic violence.”
Sen.Pierce has refused to talk to us but did respond to WMUR where he said that, “someone who he knows is in the Shea-Porter inner circle of supporters” was spreading this rumor. This is a giant step back from the claim it was someone on the inside of Shea Porter’s campaign.
Pierce went on to tell WMUR, “I have no knowledge that Carol knew any this was going on. I don’t know if any of her staff knew that any of this was going on because I don’t know if, and I don’t believe, this person is on her staff.”
Pierce told WMUR he could not recall “the specific words, the specific way in which this person came about this information…”
Now O’Connor is threatening to sue Shea-Porter for rumors that are floating around in the area and have yet to been connected to Shea-Porter’s campaign.
If none of these people can connect Carol Shea-Porter or anyone in her campaign, why is O’Connor calling for her to quit the race? She has done nothing wrong, and he has no evidence that she has.
Another thing that strikes me as strange is that the O’Connor campaign is claiming that these rumors have been circulating since July of 2015, yet it was unknown to pretty much everyone, that O’Connor was a victim of domestic violence until he shared his story in the fall of 2015.
Based on the evidence presented, and lack of evidence connecting the Shea-Porter campaign, I find this attack to be completely baseless and unsubstantiated. There is no proof that Carol Shea-Porter or her campaign are involved in these “rumors” about O’Connor and calling for her to end her candidacy is unwarranted. This is a well-crafted smear campaign by O’Connor against a very upstanding public servant who has represented the people of the New Hampshire with honor and dignity for years.
I do not know how well Mr. O’Connor has gotten to know Ms. Shea-Porter in the short two-years since he moved here from New York, but those of us who have been around her for many years know that this completely uncharacteristic for Carol or her campaign. This only adds to unbelievability of these claims against her.
This makes me greatly suspect of Mr. O’Connor’s character by pushing these unsubstantiated claims against Shea-Porter in an attempt to eliminate his primary competition. This entire attack on Carol’s integrity is dirty, underhanded and reeks of corrupt New York style politics.
I hope that the Shawn O’Connor campaign pulls their petition and apologizes for spreading this misinformation about Carol Shea-Porter.
I welcome real substantive debate on the issues between O’Connor and Shea-Porter, not baseless mudslinging, and look forward to moving through the primary process to see whom the people of New Hampshire will support.
If you have more information about this story or further proof that I am wrong, message me directly.