N.H. GOP Pushes Back on "Misguided Sting Operation" at Liquor Commission

Feb 19, 2018

New Hampshire State Liquor outlet on Interstate 93.
Credit NHPR File Photo

The Chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party Monday criticized an Executive Councilor for conducting his own "misguided sting" investigation into potential money laundering at state liquor stores.

Jeanie Forrester is the second top New Hampshire Republican to question the tactics of Democratic Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, who is alleging the state’s lucrative Liquor Commission is assisting in money laundering by helping customers make illegal all-cash bulk alcohol purchases.

Volinsky, on a tip from a whistle blower, recently visited a liquor store and watched as one of these transactions unfolded. Forrester calls Volinsky's investigation a "misguided sting operation" that she said “reeks of political opportunism.”

Governor Chris Sununu late last week also questioned the way Volinsky carried out his investigation. The NH GOP would not comment on Volinsky's allegations about the Liquor Commission's behavior.

Read NHPR's reporting on the allegations here.

Last week, Volinsky submitted a memo with his concerns to the governor, New Hampshire Attorney General and other political leaders. Volinksy, a Democrat, included photos in his memo of two people he said made a large all-cash transaction that was intentionally organized to go unreported to the IRS.

Forrester sent a statement around to reporters Monday, calling the news reports about these allegations “bizarre.” She called for the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office to open an investigation into Volinsky’s tactics.

“As an elected official and an officer of the court, Councilor Volinsky ought to know the proper channels one should go through to investigate any potential wrongdoing,” she said, in the statement.

The New Hampshire Liquor Commission has rejected all allegations that it is turning a blind eye to possibly illegal transactions, and also criticized Volinsky’s covert actions. The Commission said he may have violated customer privacy, as well as the “integrity of its inventory.”

On Friday, Sununu said the Liquor Commission’s statement raised concerns about “what exactly took place that day,” adding “there are a lot of questions to be answered on both sides.”

A spokesperson for the New Hampshire Attorney General said their office reviewing Volinsky’s memo and declined to comment further.

NHPR’s Todd Bookman contributed to this report.

Clarification: The original version of this story said that the NH GOP is criticizing Volinsky's allegations over potential money laundering at state-run liquor stores. A spokesman for the NH GOP said the chair's statement only pertains to Volinsky's "bizarre sting operation." The spokesman would not comment on the actual allegations.