By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – State Sen. Dan Feltes asked Attorney General Gordon MacDonald Friday to determine whether the Fish and Game Commission is out of compliance with state law for having seven of its members registered as Republicans.
The Concord Democrat who is running for governor said state law RSA 206:2-a requires that no more than six of the 11 commission members can be of the same political party. Feltes was critical of the commission and Gov. Chris Sununu when Glenn Normandeau wasn’t reappointed as the executive director of the Department of Fish and Game in October.
“It raises serious questions concerning the validity of actions taken by the commission during the time its composition was in violation of state law,” Feltes told MacDonald.
Feltes asked MacDonald to review the situation and “take necessary actions to address it.”
MacDonald’s spokesman Kate Spiner said, “We have received a letter from Dan Feltes’ campaign on this matter and will be responding.”
David Patch of Glen is a Republican and serves as the vice chairman of the commission. Reached Friday by phone, Hatch said he wasn’t sure off the top of his head what the political split is on the 11-member commission because it has never been a political body.
“I have remarked to other commissioners over the years that I was amazed how well it works and it is not political. I was always impressed by that,” Patch said.
Patch said the executive director’s position is still posted and a search committee has been formed, but no one has been selected.
When Normandeau wasn’t reappointed, he criticized the commission for not telling him why or giving him a chance to discuss it first.
Feltes at the time accused Sununu of lying about his role in the commission’s decision.
“We don’t know why, but it is now clear Governor Sununu lied when he said he had no involvement in the ousting of the New Hampshire’s Fish & Game Director,” Feltes said at the time.
Sununu spokesman Brandon Pratt responded at the time: “The accusations are completely without merit and are nothing more than a desperate political stunt for attention.”
Patch said a member of the public first raised the question at the last Fish and Game Commission meeting. He said he wasn’t sure if the political party affiliation limit was a law or a “strong recommendation.”
He also said he would have to check, but believes many of the members were approved by a Democratically controlled Executive Committee.
“It’s never been a political committee. We’re there to take care of the species and wildlife of New Hampshire,” Hatch said.
The following is posted on the Fish and Game Commission’s website:
“New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission members are appointed by the Governor, in consultation with the NH Executive Council. There are 11 members, one from each county in the state, plus one representing the coastal area*. Commission members must be well informed on the subject of fish and wildlife; no more than six commissioners may be members of the same political party. “