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Senator who took $180,000-a-year job asked to recuse himself

CONCORD — The Legislative Ethics Committee has asked state Sen. Peter Bragdon to recuse himself from any legislative or regulatory actions or discussions involving the HealthTrust, Inc. risk pool for public employees, where he has been executive director since last summer.

The ethics committee last week found that Bragdon, a former president of the Senate, did not use his powerful post to obtain the $180,000-a-year job.

The panel found a lack of "clear and convincing evidence" to warrant further investigation of three of five conflict-related allegations leveled against the Milford Republican by Democratic state Rep. Rich Watrous of Concord.
But the committee decided to seek "informal resolution" of two other Watrous allegations by demanding action on Bragdon's part.

The committee on Monday released a "Letter of Caution" to Bragdon requiring that:
• As a senator, Bragdon "will not take part in any official activity that concerns, involves or would have any effect on your employer." He must file a conflict declaration outlined in the Legislative Ethics Guidelines if any matter involving HealthTrust arises and he must declare that he will not participate in any official activity "associated with the matter."
That includes "any communications with legislators or legislative staff regarding the matter" and he must recuse himself and "physically absent yourself from participation."

• He does not participate in any HealthTrust, Inc. "consideration or decision-making process" on any matter that involves legislative consideration.
"Also," the committee wrote to Bragdon, "you shall establish with your employer clear lines of authority for considering and deciding such matters that do not involve your participation and revise your employment agreement appropriately."
• He does not participate in any HealthTrust, Inc. "consideration, decision-making or communication" with the state's regulatory personnel, such as with the state Bureau of Securities Regulation.

Bragdon was asked to sign the Letter of Caution if he agrees to the requirements. The committee said that if he refuses, it will open a "formal proceeding" to consider the two outstanding allegations.
Bragdon had no immediate comment Monday and told the New Hampshire Union Leader he wants to speak with his attorney about the letter's requirements before responding to it and issuing a public response.

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