Whistleblower: Safety Commissioner Quinn Rushed Gun Background Checks

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Safety Commissioner Robert Quinn


Department of Safety Commissioner Robert Quinn pushed Gun Line employees to rush through background checks on gun buyers and started a campaign of retaliation against the staffer who objected, according to a new filing in the whistleblower complaint brought by Tiffany Foss.

Foss, who now works for a different state agency, is seeking protection from Quinn fearing he could still harm her career after she complained about the rushed background checks, and an illegal background check Quinn allegedly ordered.

Foss filed for whistleblower protection with the Department of Labor in December, and the DOS filed an objection this month. Foss’ attorney, Andrea Amodeo-Vickery, filed a new response late last week, adding details about Foss’s complaint and laying out the harassment she suffered once she complained about Quinn’s order to rush checks.

According to the new filing, Foss and her Gun Line staff were under constant pressure from Gov. Chris Sununu’s office and Executive Councilor David Wheeler, R-District 5, due to the amount of time the background checks were taking. Toward the end of 2020, Quinn told Foss and her staff to “pare down” the work they were doing on the background checks.

“(Quinn) told her that, going forward, he wanted her staff to conduct less thorough background checks than their normal practice,” Amodeo-Vickery writes in the new filing.

When Foss, then a 20-year DOS employee, told Quinn that pared down investigations were not a good idea, she began to face retaliation from the Commissioner, according to Amodeo-Vickery.

Within months, Foss would be written up on specious complaints: having a messy office even through there were no rules about office spaces; for missing a deadline on a PowerPoint presentation even though she was not told what details to include in the presentation, nor was she given the deadline that it was expected; and for insubordination when she refused to start an internal investigation against another employee.

Foss was aware that employee, Sandra Roy, had complained about being sexually harassed by State Trooper Justin Rowe, and Foss was concerned her supervisors were looking to retaliate against Roy.

“(Foss) believed that the only reason her supervisor wanted (Roy) written up was because he was looking to retaliate against her for bringing a sexual harassment to light,” Amodeo-Vickery wrote.

After Foss was disciplined for insubordination, she would give her notice in September of 2021. After she gave her notice, Major John Marasco reportedly told Roy that “someone upstairs” wanted Foss gone, Amodeo-Vickery writes.

Foss suffered a stroke that night, and the ER doctor told her it was caused by stress, Amodeo-Vickery writes. While she was recovering from her stroke, Quinn allegedly pressured another civilian employee to conduct an illegal background check on the son of a friend.

The friend’s son had been denied a pistol permit in Massachusetts and Quinn conducted the background check and obtained the man’s criminal record in order to assist him in getting the permit, according to Amodeo-Vickery.

Foss emailed supervisors that Quinn acted illegally. She soon left to work in another agency.

According to Amodeo-Vickery, a year later Foss’s October 2021 email about the illegal background check, as well as the illegally obtained criminal record for his friend’s son, had been sent to several retired state troopers and members of the media. She then filed the whistleblower complaint and Amodeo-Vickery says they will disclose the criminal record under a protective order.

The Gun Line is understaffed and overworked, according to Foss’s complaint, and there are already questions about the thoroughness of the process to screen gun buyers.

The state is currently battling a lawsuit brought by two Manchester police officers shot by a man who obtained a gun despite a record of mental illness and criminal behavior. According to the lawsuit, the New Hampshire Department of Safety failed to do a proper background check on Ian MacPherson in 2016, which allowed him to get the gun he used to shoot Ryan Hardy and Matthew O’Connor.

MacPherson was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Hardy and O’Connor’s lawsuit was initially dismissed, but the New Hampshire Supreme Court is currently considering an appeal.

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