By Damien Fisher, InDepthNH.org
Days before he was confirmed by the Executive Council for another term as the state’s Department of Safety Commissioner, Robert Quinn quietly met with the man who was causing him a P.R. headache.
Wolfeboro resident Gary Brockney, whose trouble getting his UTV registered was making headlines and drawing negative attention to Quinn, was invited to the Troop E Baracks in Tamworth to sit down with Quinn and Executive Councilor Joe Kenney.
“All he talked about is how honest he was, the whole time he was there,” Brockney said of Quinn.
Quinn had allegedly told Brockney to remove political signs from the UTV before he would allow it to be registered. Quinn has denied he called Brockney and issued that demand.
Quinn’s nomination to another term was approved by a unanimous vote of the Executive Council on Wednesday, including Kenney. Kenney offered “No comment,” when contacted about this story via text message. Quinn’s office did not respond to a request for comment this week.
Brockney’s troubles started last year when he and his wife, Lucy Brockney, were each pulled over in separate instances by a State Trooper for driving their UTV John Deere Gator.
Gary and Lucy Brockney, have kept the Gator registered for years, and use it for their garden and occasional errands around town. The couple even makes sure the vehicle is insured.
The Brockneys maintained they were not breaking the law by driving the vehicle, and asked Trooper Andrew Wilensky to cite the state law they were violating. Wilensky was unable to cite the RSA, and the couple did not receive a ticket during either stop.
“I got treated by (Wilensky) like a bank robber, and my wife got treated even worse,” Gary Brockney said. “It made us feel like criminals.”
When Gary Brockney went to Wolfeboro Town Hall to renew the registration on the Gator in January, he was told someone had put a freeze on the vehicle, meaning it could not be registered. After numerous calls back and forth to the DMV and Town Hall, Gary Brockney said Quinn called him and issued the ultimatum: remove the signs.
When the Brockneys story made the news this month, Quinn responded by denying he had ever called. Gary Brockney said Quinn repeated his story during last week’s meeting, maintaining he never picked up the phone about the UTV matter.
The problem, Gary Brockney said., is the calls were made. Gary and Lucy insist the call happened and say they have printouts of their cell phone call log showing a Department of Safety number calling in.
“I told (Quinn) someone made the call, I’m not making this up,” Gary Brockney said. “I don’t understand why he denied he ever made the call, and why he denied that anyone from his office called.”
The Brockneys Gator saga is one of many problems Quinn has dealt with in recent months. The Commissioner for the Department of Safety oversees the state DMV, the State Police, and the state’s gun purchasing background check system, the Gun Line.
Quinn recently battled a whistleblower complaint, which has been dismissed, from a former Gun Line employee, Tiffany Foss, who says he requested an illegal background check be done for the son of an acquaintance. Three police officers in New Hampshire have been convicted since December for running illegal background checks, though Quinn has faced no consequences.
In the fall, the State Supreme Court called State Police actions in the Timothy Verrill Farmington double-murder case “egregious.” Failures by investigators to turn over evidence to the defense before the trial started resulted in a mistrial, and the Supreme Court recommended defense attorney’s seek sanctions against the State. That case is headed to another trial in October.