Fish and Game Commission Votes 8-1 To Ask Governor To Suspend Susan Price

Print More

Paula Tracy photo

Fish and Game Col. Kevin Jordan is pictured speaking at the June 18 hearing. Commissioner Susan Price is pictured with her attorney William Woodbury. Members of the Fish and Game Commission pictured to Jordan's right are Paul DeBow of Grafton County, Bruce Temple of Sullivan County and Ray Green of Rockingham County.


CONCORD – Members of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission voted 8-1 Tuesday to recommend disciplinary action against Carroll County’s Commissioner Susan Price of Moultonborough for violating a law that prohibits commissioners from discussing personnel matters. 

The report, considered now an “interim order,” recommends Gov. Chris Sununu and the five-member Executive Council suspend Price for the remainder of her four-year term in office which ends June 29, 2025.

The action followed allegations Price told the department’s human resources officer she was going to become interim executive director of the department and would then clean house by addressing an issue she has with Colonel Kevin Jordan and his wife, Lisa, who are both classified employees working together.

Price, who denies that she ever spoke to the human resources officer about terminating or relocating them, is planning to appeal the decision.

Sununu, a Republican who is not seeking re-election, nominated Price, a Republican, in 2021.

A representative for his office was in attendance at Tuesday’s vote on findings of fact and during the evidentiary hearing at Fish and Game’s headquarters in Concord.

New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission members are appointed by the Governor, in consultation with the NH Executive Council. There are 11 members, one from each county in the state, plus one representing the coastal area.

Price is asking first for reconsideration of the decision and because of that, the document is considered an “interim order” until a decision on reconsideration is made, said Thomas P. Velardi, associate attorney general who is acting as the presiding officer over the hearings.

Price’s lawyer will file his reasons for reconsideration and that will be then considered by Velardi with the commissioners coming back in late July to hear his take on that.

The commissioners are acting as a jury in the matter and the verdict need not be unanimous to carry forward.

It can be further appealed at the state Supreme Court.

In May following a day of deliberations, the commission voted 5-4 to recommend suspension, concluding she broke a state law by suggesting she would clean house if she became interim director of the agency.

The matter had to be finalized Tuesday when the 52-page Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Recommendations for Disciplinary Action drafted by Velardi was presented.

On Tuesday, all other members but Sullivan County’ ‘s Commissioner Bruce Temple voted to recommend the governor and council suspend Price.

The matter will resume July 29 at 9 a.m. or earlier with Price’s attorney William Woodbury expected to outline errors of procedure as a basis for reconsideration.

If the commission rejects reconsideration and stands with its findings, it could still be appealed to the state Supreme Court before any action would be formally requested by the Governor and Executive Council.

Velardi noted a representative from the governor’s office has been present through the process including the evidentiary hearing April 15.

Col. Kevin Jordan, who is chief of law enforcement and brought the complaint forward, said he was thankful to the commissioners for believing the department employees and said he was sorry he had to bring it forward, but could not let the matter stand.

In a May 24 email, Jordan said, “I would only say I was very happy that our staff here were considered as truthful here in their testimony that to me is very important.  I feel they were victims, and this helps to prove they are good employees who told the truth.  And finally we are sorry the Commission and the Agency were exposed to this issue at all.”

The majority of the commission, by voting to support the findings of fact, decided to not believe Price who said the conversation never happened but to believe the version of events from Human Resources Administrator Deirdre “Dee” Grimes and Mark Beauchesne, the program director for the Department’s Public Affairs Division who witnessed them talking.

According to the commission findings of fact:

– On Dec. 19, 2023, Commissioner Price had a discussion with Grimes regarding the status of the appointment of the Department’s Executive Director Scott Mason who was not being reappointed and whose term ends this August. 

Price stated to Grimes that she “may need to fill in as interim Executive Director” until a permanent director is confirmed and that she had spoken with Senate President Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, about the matter.

– Price admitted on cross-examination that she had spoken to Bradley regarding the interim Executive Director position.

– Price told Grimes that she was concerned about the work status of Col. Jordan and another classified department employee working together, “which had in Commissioner Price’s view never been addressed by Director Mason and should never have been permitted. Commissioner Price further stated that Col. Jordan and the other classified employee working together had gone on long enough and that things would be changing sooner rather than later.”

– While Price denied having any conversation with Grimes on that date, Beauchesne testified that he walked up to Grimes and Price in the hallway Dec. 19 2023, when they were having a discussion but did not know what they were discussing.

The commission found the employees’ testimony “credible, corroborated and consistent,” according to the findings of fact.

Grimes said she spoke with Price before a commission meeting in the hallway of headquarters and it began with Price thanking her for a get well note but it proceeded to a conversation that the director was not being reappointed “and is done in August,” referring to Scott Mason, executive director whose four-year term ends.

A search committee is looking for a replacement.

Grimes said she told Price she was aware of Mason’s planned departure and asked her “what happens next?”

Grimes said Price told her that she had spoken with state Senate President Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, and Price said she may have to fill in as interim director if needed until a new director is found.

Then Grimes said Price said to Col. Jordan and a co-worker whom he is now married to that “things upstairs with the colonel and Lisa Jordan were never addressed,” by Mason “and things would be changing sooner than later.”

Grimes told the commissioners Price said the matter with the Jordans working together has “gone on long enough” and that “this should never have been allowed to take place,” interpreting that to mean that Price would seek removal of either the colonel, his wife or by transferring them, as is only allowed by the director or acting director.

The law under RSA 206:4-b, provides that no commissioner can be “engaged or involved in any personnel matters of the department…Decisions on personnel matters are instead the province of the department’s Executive Director….”

The report concludes that, “by a preponderance of the evidence…Price violated RSA 206:4-b by becoming involved in or engaged in a personnel matter involving classified employees of the New Hampshire Fish and Game. We make a recommendation to the Governor and Executive Council for appropriate disciplinary action, and further that we recommend that Commissioner Susan Price be suspended as a New Hampshire Fish and Game Commissioner for the remainder of her term in office.”

There were no corrections or deletions made by the commissioners to the report issued by Velardi.

Chairman of the Commission Eric Stohl moved to adopt the report but Temple, who had not had an opportunity to read the document in paper form, asked for 15-minute recess which was granted. During deliberations in May, Temple had said the matter did not rise to a violation of law and was more of an offhand conversation.

After they came back, they took a roll call vote and all but Temple voted to support it.

Velardi said he will endeavor to make a reasoned and fair decision that is cautious and deliberate after he receives Woodbury’s request for reconsideration.

“You will be apprised, commissioners, of filing of the motion for rehearing and again, I will turn this around as quickly as I possibly can in regards to getting an answer granting or denying a motion for reconsideration,” Velardi said, indicating it may be seven days after receiving it.

At the end of the meeting, Fish and Game’s Hillsborough County Commissioner Ray Green spoke. 

“I have a question on this whole thing,” he said. “We now just continue this up until almost the end of July, for I’m presuming an appeal is that correct?”

Velardi said “for a rehearing before this body on whether a rehearing should be granted.”

“Okay,” said Green, “and if this body decides that there shouldn’t be one, I’m presuming the next process would be that…an appeal on that?”

Woodbury, an attorney for Price said: “We plan to appeal to the extent possible, sir.”

So if the motion for rehearing is denied, Velardi said, Price can place a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court, which is her right. 

Velardi said he believes he could not issue a stay order and Woodbury said he agreed.   

Comments are closed.