Bragdon at LGC already takes heat for appointment
"I can't dispute, the timing is there," said Bragdon in a telephone interview on Wednesday, even though he insisted he had decided on Forrester for the position on July 5, when he signed the bill creating the study committee and forwarded it to the governor for her signature. At the time, the LGC director position had not even come up, he said.
"Bragdon's official and legal appointment of Forrester is a clear conflict of interest," Kirstein said. "He used his position as Senate President to influence a decision that would directly benefit the LGC, while being considered for a $180,000 contract with the LGC."
The Local Government Center, which began years ago as the New Hampshire Municipal Association, has collected millions in insurance premiums while retaining huge surpluses, according to critics like Dave Lang, president of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Hampshire.
The LGC recently appealed to the state Supreme Court in an effort to overturn an order by the state Bureau of Securities Regulation to return more than $50 million to LGC members and set benchmarks for how much it can keep in reserves.
Forrester served as town administrator in Tuftonboro and New Durham, and as the executive director for Main Street programs in Plymouth and Meredith. Lang claims the voting records of both Forrester and Bragdon often followed LGC recommendations on issues like reserve levels and non-profit versus for-profit status.
The study committee took testimony for the first time on Tuesday, and Lang, who was present for much of the hearing, said Forrester was not a tough questioner. "She asked questions that would bring out the best in the local government center," he said.
"I think that I can be fair about the whole situation," she said. "For me, my number one priority is to protect my community. If that means the LGC did some things that weren't appropriate and money needs to be returned, I want my community to get that money back."
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