Fish and Game Commissioner Denies Speaking About Personnel Issue To HR Director

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Paula Tracy photo

Fish and Game Col. Kevin Jordan is pictured standing with one of the Fish and Game commissioners Susan Price with her back to the camera Monday at a rare hearing.


CONCORD – Carroll County Fish and Game Commissioner Susan Price denied she had a conversation with the department’s human resources director about a personnel issue in violation of state law during an evidentiary hearing Monday on a complaint brought against her by Fish and Game Col. Kevin Jordan, one of the subjects of the alleged conversation.

Even if there had been such a conversation, Price’s attorney said, what was reportedly said would not rise to the level of an offense.

This is the first-ever test of a state law that prohibits Fish and Game commissioners from being involved in the department’s personnel matters, although they can make a complaint to the executive director.

The evidentiary hearing, conducted similar to a trial, was held at Fish and Game’s headquarters. Now, the 10 other members of the Fish and Game Commission without Price will serve as the jury and make a determination on May 21. The deliberations will be held in public as the law requires.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Velardi served as hearings officer or essentially as the judge.

The whole matter could have been avoided, Jordan said, if Price had acknowledged what she said to Deirdre “Dee” Grimes, human resources administrator and apologized.

But both Price and her attorney, Bill Woodbury, said the conversation never happened. 

Jordan’s complaint alleges that on Dec. 19, 2023, Commissioner Price violated RSA 206:4-b, I, by discussing a personnel matter involving Jordan, who is a classified employee, and another department employee, who is also a classified employee, with Grimes.

“The Fish and Game Commission will decide whether a violation of RSA 206:4-b, occurred and if so, whether a recommendation to the Governor and the Executive Council should be made for appropriate disciplinary action or whether the Commission should instead issue a public reprimand,” according to the commission’s website.

Jordan said it was a “sad” day when a Fish and Game commissioner could call department staff “liars.”

A veteran of the department for 33 years, Jordan said he has enjoyed a clean record. This, he said, was not a personnel hearing.

“And I would welcome it any day that it happens. This is not the setting… This forum is to decide if that law was violated. I think we have indicated it was. I think it had a lot to do with pride and personal feelings and motivation, which is sad. The saddest part of this whole thing, I will leave this hearing, the saddest I have ever been about how my staff here has been treated. It’s sad when we come in here and we call our staff ‘liars…” Jordan said.

“That’s sad, ladies and gentlemen and there is no need for it. No reason for that. I have a lot more respect for people that come in and say ‘you know what, I crossed the line, I’m sorry. I made a mistake. I understand now, I won’t make it again.’ I’d have walked away. Walked away. That’s not what happened here. What happened here is ‘I didn’t do it. Everybody else is lying. I didn’t do it.’ I have no respect for someone like that. No respect. That speaks to integrity. That speaks character and it is sad. Simply sad.”

No one, Jordan said, holding up a book, “should be above the law.”

The burden of proof lies with Jordan and the jury of commissioners is not required to be unanimous in its findings.

Woodbury of Laconia served as attorney for Price and Jordan served as his own lawyer.

Grimes took the stand and explained what she said had happened. She said she was in the hallway at Fish and Game headquarters after picking up mail and encountered Price who was there between meetings in December.

She said Price thanked her for a ‘get well’ card she sent following a recent procedure, and said then Price said, “I hear the director has not been reappointed and is done in August,” referring to Scott Mason, executive director whose four-year term with Fish and Game ends in August and who has publicly said he would not be seeking reappointment.

“I responded ‘yes,'” Grimes said, telling Price that Mason let senior staff know that at a recent management meeting.

“I asked her ‘what happens next?’ And then she (Price) referred to Jeb Bradley, the Senate President and Republican from Wolfeboro, “and that she may have to fill in as an interim (director) if needed and it may take some time to find a replacement as the director would be all done in August. She also said that things upstairs with the colonel and Lisa (the other classified employee mentioned) working together was never addressed, things would be changing sooner than later. It had gone on long enough. That this should never have been allowed to take place and she again said it was never addressed and should have been addressed by the current director. She then mentioned Jeb Bradley again but I don’t remember what context that was in. Jeb’s name came up twice in the conversation. And that time, Mark Beauchesne from Public Affairs had walked out of the office directly where we were standing and directed the conversation about Susan’s vehicle outside,” Grimes said.

Lisa Jordan is married to Colonel Jordan and also works in the Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division.

Beauchesne also took the stand and said he recalled seeing the two women talking that same day that Grimes said it occurred. But he said he did not know what the subject matter was of their conversation.

Grimes said it was her interpretation from her conversation with Price that “somebody would not be working upstairs,” referring to the Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division of which Jordan is in command.

Grimes said after the holidays, she had a conversation with Director Mason and she mentioned the conversation with Price to him.

“I said ‘I was kind of shocked,'” by the conversation and Mason asked her the next day or the day after to put it in writing as a report.

Grimes said later on that when she learned that the colonel was aware of the conversation between the two women, she went to Jordan’s office “fairly upset wondering what was going to happen to me and what was going to happen next because I really like working here,” Grimes said. 

Woodbury, Price’s attorney, asked about Grimes’ conversation with Mason.

“I came in there to talk to him about other things and it came up,” Grimes said of the encounter with Price.

She said it was Mason who picked up the law related to commission members interfering with staff and reviewed with her and asked her, later, to provide a written statement of the conversation with Price, which she did.

Attorney Woodbury said assuming there was this conversation at all, which his client denied ever having occurred, was it Grimes’ perception at that time that Commissioner Price was seeking her assistance as HR director?

“No,” Grimes said.

“Was Commissioner Price asking you to become involved?”

“No,” Grimes said.

“Was she asking you to become engaged in the actual processes around this personnel issue with the colonel and the other employee? Was this simply an off-hand comment?” Woodbury asked.

“Yes,” Grimes said.   

Woodbury also brought up a written statement made by Fish and Game Commission Chairman Eric Stohl.

These were contemporaneous notes he took from a conversation with Mason Dec. 28, 2023, with the notes indicating that he had heard Price had a discussion with Grimes and that his take was “1: She (Price) is going to get director Mason removed soon and then she will be appointed interim director.” Woodbury asked Grimes if that was a correct depiction of what had been said.

“No,” said Grimes.

Woodbury said, “So…if she was in the position to do that…but at no time in her capacity as commissioner was she seeking to take some action, correct?”

Grimes agreed.

Then Woodbury read another paragraph from Stohl’s notes, which the judge called “fair game” which read Stohl wrote “then, she is going to fire Colonel Jordan over nepotism with Lisa Jordan.”

Woodbury asked Grimes if that was an accurate reflection of what was in her report?

“Not really,” Grimes said. “My report suggested that I thought something was going to happen to one or the other of them…”

“But that was just speculation, right?” Woodbury said. “In fact, Commissioner Price never said that, correct…?”

“No. Not that she was going to fire them, no,” Grimes said.

On redirect, Jordan asked Grimes if she was concerned that there would be repercussions for her if she did not testify in this matter.

She said yes, she was not subpoenaed.

“I thought I could lose my position,” Grimes said. “I didn’t know if the commission or my peers would think less of me,” Grimes said, tearing up. 

Asked why she decided to come and Grimes said, “It was the right thing to do.”

Price was nominated by Gov. Chris Sununu to serve on the commission almost four years ago as a representative of Carroll County.

A retired hydrogeologist, Price moved to New Hampshire as director of environmental consulting at Liberty Mutual in 1992. She is an avid hunter with dogs and an advocate for that practice in the state. 

The Fish and Game Commission is charged with overseeing the wise use of the state’s fish, game and related wildlife, has the duty to recommend or oppose bills in the legislature and has a representative from each county with one member representing the Seacoast.

The commission is nominated, not elected and sets season limits on fishing and hunting among other duties.

It has rules that are very different from operations that most state departments have.

Woodbury said the law cited, has been unused and is ill-defined and has the potential to impact First Amendment rights and due process rights.

Woodbury urged the commission to take no action.

Both sides noted the parameters of the quasi-judicial process did not allow for the underlying matters related to personnel matters to become part of the proceeding but to focus only on commission interference with department employees.

Paula Tracy is’s senior writer and has been a reporter in New Hampshire for 30 years.

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