AG: Second House Member Moved Out of District; Hearing on Troy Merner Case Monday

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Former state Rep. Dan Hynes


CONCORD – Former Republican state Rep. Troy Merner’s criminal case relative to serving in the state House of Representatives is still pending, but in the interim the attorney general disclosed this week that a second House member apparently served for several months after moving out of his district.

Former state Rep. Dan Hynes, I-Bedford, appeared to be living out of district from September of 2023 to Feb. 9, 2024, when he resigned the same day the Attorney General’s Office notified House Speaker Sherman Packard and Minority Leader Matt Wilhelm of its investigative findings.

Neither Packard, R-Londonderry, nor Wilhelm, D-Manchester, told the public about domicile problems with Hynes, an attorney who changed his political affiliation last summer from Republican to Independent.

The public found out via a story earlier this week in the Boston Globe based on a letter the attorney general’s office released to the reporter. The letter can be read here:

“Based on this office’s investigation, Rep. Hynes does not appear to be domiciled in the Hillsborough 2 District (Bedford),” wrote Assistant Attorney General Brendan O’Donnell in the Feb. 9 letter.

The attorney general charged Merner, 63, now of Carroll, with one class B felony count of wrongful voting for voting at the March 8, 2023, Lancaster town election after moving to Carroll.

The Feb. 9 letter made it clear that Hynes wasn’t suspected of wrongful voting.

But some charges against Merner involved allegedly misrepresenting on House mileage cards that he resided in Lancaster when he lived in Carroll, resulting in receiving greater travel reimbursements from the state than he was entitled to.

Merner was also charged with misdemeanor counts of unsworn falsification and tampering with public records for allegedly falsely reporting his address on a House mileage card.

Of Hynes, AG spokesman Mike Garrity said: “The Department of Justice has not charged Dan Hynes with any criminal or civil violations.  As it has in the past, this Office referred information regarding a representative’s qualifications to the Legislature.

  “As explained in the February 9, 2024, letter, the State Constitution provides that only the Legislature has the authority to judge the qualifications of its members, including Part II, Article 14’s requirement that representatives continue to be domiciled in their district.” 

When asked why Hynes wasn’t facing criminal charges like Merner, Garrity said: “Because the prosecution of former Representative Merner is ongoing, this Office cannot comment on differences or similarities between that matter and the investigation into former representative Hynes.”

Hynes and Speaker Packard didn’t return a request for comment.

And Wilhelm didn’t address the question why he didn’t alert the public when he found out about Hynes Feb. 9.

Instead, Wilhelm sent an email saying he was proud of bipartisan legislation to make sure domicile issues were addressed in the wake of the Merner scandal. That proposed legislation became unnecessary when the attorney general adopted a new protocol to alert the Speaker’s Office and the Minority Leader about domicile investigative findings, but it does not in include notifying the public.

The Globe reported that Hynes’ vote Jan. 3 helped kill HB 601, which called for Medicaid-eligible schoolchildren to be directly certified for free and reduced-price meals, which was favored by Democrats. The final vote was 189-188.

Merner case

In Merner’s criminal case there will be a status conference Monday. Court records show it can be accessed via WebEx in Grafton Superior Court courtroom 2. View document here:

More information about WebEx is here:

Merner had been scheduled for criminal mediation this week, but it was cancelled.

Criminal mediation is a confidential process in which only the defendant, prosecutor and a judge, one who is not sitting on the case, try to resolve certain criminal cases without a trial. If no settlement is reached, the case goes to trial.

Two former state Senators who filed right-to-know requests in the Merner case were upset to find another House member apparently served after moving out of district.

“The failure of the AG’s office to defend the integrity of the House is a near criminal outrage,” said former Senator Peter Burling, D-Cornish. “There is only one reasonable conclusion I can draw…..the AG has been defending the Speaker’s tiny claim to a majority. There should be an independent investigation and charges brought against those responsible.  It won’t happen of course, but I hope the House Democrats make use of the issue.”

Former Senator Mark Hounsell, now an Independent from Conway, said: “It troubles me to no end watching the sly foxes spending their time looking for ways to hide misdeeds rather than be faithful stewards of the people’s House by protecting its honor and integrity.” 

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