By JOHN DiSTASO, News Editor
CONCORD — Democrats are hitting Republican candidate for governor Walt Havenstein for recent comments critical of his former BAE Systems employee, Jeff Rose, who heads the state Department of Resources and Economic Development, and for saying he would veto an anti-discrimination constitutional amendment, when the governor has no such power in New Hampshire.
The Telegraph of Nashua reported Wednesday that last week at an event, Havenstein said Jeffrey Rose, a former BAE employee while Havenstein was CEO, is a “good guy, good man, but he wouldn’t know how to encourage creatively businesses to come into the state any more than the man on the moon, and he knows that.” The Telegraph cited an audio of the event.
Havenstein later told the newspaper he wasn’t criticizing Rose, but rather what Havenstein viewed as Gov. Maggie Hassan’s lack of leadership in helping DRED stimulate job growth.
“The governor needs to work with the Legislature to empower Jeff and DRED to improve the climate for business growth in this state,” Havenstein said.
“Frankly, that is something I have done in the private sector and would bring to the job. It was certainly not my intent to be critical of Jeff in any way.”
Havenstein, also at the political event last week in Atkinson, reportedly said he would veto a constitutional amendment outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation. Such a proposed amendment passed the state Senate earlier this year but was sent to study by the House.
But the governor has no authority to veto proposed constitutional amendments. Only the House and Senate can have such questions placed on the ballot with three-fifths supermajority votes. Voters would then have to muster a two-thirds majority to make a change to the state constitution.
The state Democratic Party on Wednesday called Havenstein “so painfully out-of-touch with Granite Staters that not only did he assert that he would oppose basic civil rights legislation protecting individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation, but he also failed to understand the basic operations of state government.”
“The more we learn about Maryland multi-millionaire Walt Havenstein, the clearer it becomes that he has the wrong priorities for New Hampshire,” said NHDP spokesman Julie McClain.
She added, “It is outrageous that Havenstein would attack a former employee and respected public servant just to advance his own political agenda. And trying to deny what he said only makes the situation worse, proving that Havenstein thinks he’s completely unaccountable.”