Sanborn Says 'Crass Language' Spurred 2013 Senate Inquiry: 'If That's News, So Be It'

Dec 11, 2017

State Senator and 1st District Congressional candidate Andy Sanborn hosts a political event at his Concord restaurant in January 2015
Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Republican State Senator and 1st District Congressional Candidate Andy Sanborn has acknowledged his use of “crass language” in early 2013 prompted an internal review involving the Senate’s legal counsel and then-Senate President.

When contacted by phone on Monday, the Bedford lawmaker referred to a written statement and ended the call when asked for more details on the language in question.

A spokesman later emailed the following statement from Sanborn:

"In early 2013, I used crass language in response to an absurd statement made by someone in my office, with my wife present. A staffer of the Senate President overheard it and brought it to the attention of Senate President, Peter Bragdon. He and legal counsel fully explored it and determined it did not violate any senate policy and no one in the room was offended by the joke. No complaint was filed. Case closed-if that’s news so be it.

At a time when women across this land are being harassed and disrespected, it is disgusting that anyone is trying to equate a crass joke to all the real challenges women are facing today."

Sanborn's spokesman did not respond to additional follow up questions seeking clarification on the nature of the “crass language,” the conversation in which it occurred, and whether Sanborn typically uses such language in the course of his work at the State House.

Sanborn’s acknowledgement of the 2013 incident comes several days after Senate Legal Counsel Richard Lehmann said the chamber sought help from an outside law firm, Jackson/Lewis, that same year in response to “a proactive inquiry” from Lehmann “based upon an observation he made.”

“This inquiry occurred despite no complaint being filed,” Lehmann wrote in an email to NHPR and other media outlets Friday night, in response to questions about the Senate’s relationship with the law firm.

Lehmann has not responded to additional follow-up questions from NHPR about the nature of the “observation” he made or how that matter was resolved.

In his email Friday, he said “no state funds have been expended to settle any matter involving any Senator or member of the Senate staff.”

Records provided in response to an earlier request from NHPR show that the Senate paid Jackson/Lewis more than $4,100 for work done in 2013 and 2014. Lehmann said the Senate also sought assistance from Jackson/Lewis in revising its sexual harassment policy.

The records provided by Lehmann indicate that the Senate is withholding a memo he filed in February 2013, as well as other correspondence between Jackson/Lewis and Senate staff between September 2013 and December 2014. An index included with the records cites attorney-client privilege and other disclosure exemptions.

On Friday, Lehmann said New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald has reviewed the Senate’s response “to multiple right to know requests regarding sexual harassment” and “confirmed that we handled the matter appropriately and in compliance with the law.”

Senate President Chuck Morse, in a statement provided through Lehmann on Friday, said “there is no place for harassment of any kind at the State House and we have a duty to protect all who work at and visit our state’s capitol.”

“In addition to maintaining a safe working environment, we have the responsibility to protect the identity of people who may come forward to express concerns about the behavior of members, staff, or other people in the State House complex,” Morse said. “My door is always open to those who wish to do so.”