By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
Attorney General John M. Formella said that Debra A. Paul, 62, of Londonderry, has been arrested on six misdemeanor counts related to penalties for political advertising for publishing political advertisements that did not comply with state election laws.
Paul responded: “I would like to think the attorney general’s office has more important matters to deal with than to send press releases out on misdemeanors such as this. With multiple unsolved homicides over the past year, this seems a bit absurd.
“My understanding is that I’m accused by someone of neglecting to use the phrase, “Political Advertisements,” when it was an obvious political ad. I’ve barely had time to confer with my attorney and I have yet to see the actual charges on the matter. This is clearly a case of a small business needing to defend itself against overreaching government. To threaten a small business owner with jail time over something this insignificant is very heavy handed,” Paul said.
The charges filed against Paul are for violations of RSA 664:16, Identification of Political Advertising, a misdemeanor. The misdemeanor charges allege that Paul failed to properly identify political advertisements that she published in her newspaper, the Londonderry Times, with appropriate language either at the beginning or the end of the advertisement as required by RSA 664:16, according to a news release issued shorty after Paul’s arrest.
Paul, publisher of the Londonderry Times newspaper, was previously investigated and warned against such conduct on two prior occasions by the Attorney General’s Office Election Law Unit. Those instances ended with formal letters being issued to her in 2019 and 2021, the release said. A “final warning” letter issued by the Election Law Unit in September of 2021 warned Paul that all political advertising must be properly labeled as such in her publication.
Class A misdemeanor charges carry a maximum penalty of up to one year at the county house of correction and a fine of up to $2,000.
An arraignment has been scheduled in Derry District Court for October 19, 2022. This case is being prosecuted by Deputy General Counsel Myles Matteson and Attorney Matt Conley of the Election Law Unit. The investigation into this matter was conducted by Investigator Daniel Mederos.