A substance-abuse treatment advocate who appeared in a political ad criticizing Gov. Maggie Hassan's handling of the state's drug crisis has resigned from the nonprofit she once led.
Melissa Crews stepped down from the board of HOPE for New Hampshire Recovery earlier this week, according to the Concord Monitor.
Crews was featured in a 30-second commercial paid for by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which has spent $3 million trying to derail Hassan's bid to unseat Sen. Kelly Ayotte. Identified as a "peer recovery counselor," Crews says in the ad, "With all my heart, I believe that the governor has mishandled this crisis. It's sad.
"The cost of the entrenchment and bureaucracy is 429 people dying a year. That's the cost."
Crews was the public face of HOPE, and chaired the board of the nonprofit last year, when it opened a series of community centers around the state for people struggling with drug addiction.
Maureen Beauregard, HOPE's current board chair, told NHPR before Crews’ resignation that the her participation in the ad would be discussed at the nonprofit's next board meeting. “I can tell you, as chair of the board, we remain nonpartisan,” she said. “We don’t support any one candidate, and what a person does on his or her own time is what they do on their own time.”
Board member Bob Kelley told NHPR he was "horrified" by Crews' turn as a partisan critic of Hassan, who has mostly drawn praise from the substance-abuse treatment community for helping secure millions in additional funding.
Kelley said he was afraid the ad would reflect poorly on the organization.
"It's not representative of my position at all," he said of the ad. "I don’t think it’s true, first of all. I think it’s nonsense to blame the governor for that."
HOPE is expected to bid for on a state contract for certified peer recovery services, announced as part a $5 million package of treatment and recovery spending signed by Hassan in June.
Crews has not returned numerous voicemail messages and emails requesting comment since the ad first aired August 16.