D.J. Bettencourt

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D. J. Bettencourt
New Hampshire House Majority Leader
In office
December 1, 2010 – May 27, 2012
Member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives
from the Rockingham 4th district
In office
2004–2012
Personal details
Born Salem, New Hampshire
Political party Republican
Residence North Salem, New Hampshire
Religion Catholic

David J. "D.J." Bettencourt (born January 6, 1984) is a former legislator from Salem, New Hampshire who was a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives from 2004 to 2012, representing district Rockingham-4, and was majority leader from 2010 until his resignation in 2012. D.J. is now employed with the Salem Animal Rescue League (SARL).

Legislative career[edit]

First elected as a NH state representative at the age of 20, following the 2010 elections, he became the youngest House Majority Leader in the nation (at age 27) and the youngest in New Hampshire history. Prior to being Majority Leader, Bettencourt served as a Republican Caucus Whip during the 2009-2010 legislative session as well as a majority caucus whip during the 2005-2006 legislative session.[1] Bettencourt rose to a position of leadership with support from the newly conservative majority elected to the Legislature in 2010 and has been the public face for the Republican agenda in the House.[2]

Bettencourt served three full terms plus almost a fourth in the House of Representatives, representing Rockingham County District 4. He resigned his House seat on May 27, 2012, following revelations that he had submitted falsified internship documents relating to his attendance at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.[3]

At the time of his resignation, Bettencourt also served as a member of several charitable and nonprofit organizations, including the Museum of American Finance, New Hampshire Historical Society, New Hampshire Humane Society, and Republicans for Environmental Protection.

Election as New Hampshire House Majority Leader[edit]

Bettencourt won the House majority leader's post on December 1, 2010, in voting by the Republican House caucus. In the first round Bettencourt led with 117 votes, while Representative Paul Mirski of Enfield received 78 and Representative Shawn Jasper of Hudson received 74. After the first round, Jasper threw his support behind Bettencourt. In the second round of balloting, Bettencourt received 172 votes to Mirski's 89. In a show of unity after the second ballot result, Mirski asked the caucus to make Bettencourt's selection to the post by unanimous consent, to which the caucus agreed[4]

Positions on specific issues[edit]

Bettencourt formerly served on the state House Ways and Means and the Judiciary committees. He has co-sponsored some 30 pieces of legislation that have become law.[5]

Bettencourt is opposed to legal abortion and is a supporter of parental notification law.[6]

Bettencourt is sponsoring a tax credit program that would allow business to donate a certain amount of money for education to be given to families seeking alternatives to public school (either home-schooling or for private or religious schools). The donating business would receive a tax credit of between 75 and 90 percent for that donation. The proposal aims to avoid the constitutional issues faced by school voucher programs.[7]

Bettencourt opposes a state sales or income tax in New Hampshire and opposes the implementing any new taxes or raising existing taxes. Bettencourt has stated that "the only way to maintain low taxes is to control spending. If government spends too much, taxes will go up, and no amount of shifting them around from one form to another will prevent this."[8][9] Bettencourt was the chief sponsor of a 2010 bill to allow local municipalities to enact tax caps and also sponsored a state constitutional amendment prohibiting an income tax in New Hampshire. In 2011, Bettencourt, in his speech outlining the agenda for the upcoming session of the New Hampshire House, stated that: "This legislature must immediately take on the duty of making some very difficult, but necessary spending choices. Over the past four years, state government spending increased by 25%. This came at a time when other states were cutting their spending by an average of 2% and now we are now facing the serious consequences."[9]

Bettencourt opposes the 2010 health care reform and characterized it as a "plan to take over Americans' health care."[10] Bettencourt has supported proposals to have New Hampshire seek a waiver from Medicaid and from the health insurance law so cuts to optional services not required under federal law could be made.[11]

Bettencourt took a neutral position on expanded legal gambling/gaming in his first campaign for state representative but after being elected expressed support for expanded gambling to provide additional revenues for future budgets. In November 2011, Bettencourt harshly criticized Governor John Lynch’s pledge to veto any legislation expanding gaming, stating that this would result in jobs and money going to Massachusetts rather than to New Hampshire.[12]

Interest group ratings[edit]

  • Bettencourt has career ratings of 80% with the New Hampshire Business and Industry Association, 85% with the New Hampshire National Federation of Independent Business, and 100% with the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association.[13]
  • In 2010, the New Hampshire Families for Education[14] gave Bettencourt an "A+" grade.[13]

Romney endorsement[edit]

On September 2, 2011, Mitt Romney's campaign for president announced that Bettencourt had endorsed his candidacy. The Boston Globe characterized the endorsement as "coming from one of the state’s top conservative leaders, is a coup for Romney, who has made an effort in recent days to reach out to conservatives, including the Tea Party movement." [2]

Defense of NH primary[edit]

In 2011, after controversy arose when Nevada Republicans tentatively set the date for the 2012 Republican Caucuses for January 14, Bettencourt, along with other legislative and political leaders throughout New Hampshire, became vocal advocates for the protection of New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary. New Hampshire law requires its primary be held at least seven days in advance of any similar contest. As a result, it had been believed that NH Secretary of State Bill Gardner would set the date as early as December in order to avoid occurring too soon after Iowa. Bettencourt said all New Hampshire officials were asking was for Nevada to move its caucuses back 72 hours, to avoid disrupting the primary process by pushing the New Hampshire primary into December. “Given the consequences, given the relatively easy fix, which is for Nevada just to move their caucus back 72 hours, I think a boycott is appropriate,” Bettencourt said.[15] "I appreciate and thank all of the candidates who have chosen to stand with New Hampshire in support of the First in the Nation primary," Bettencourt said in reference to several candidates who have agreed to boycott the Nevada caucus if it does not move back its Jan. 14 date. "It has become an important part of our heritage."

Bettencourt said the primary and the Old Man of the Mountain are the two things that immediately come to mind when people across the country think of New Hampshire. "Unfortunately we lost one of them to Mother Nature a few years ago," Bettencourt said. "But we intend to fight to hold on to the other." He spoke of the expectation residents have here candidates will "look them square in the eye and be ready to answer the tough questions." Bettencourt believes "we have earned the right to be the first in the nation, we thank those candidates for president, both past and present, who have stood with us in our fight. And we look forward to maintaining our first in the nation status for m any years to come." [16] On October 22, the Nevada Republican Central Committee voted to hold their caucuses on February 4 rather than January 14, at the behest of Republican National Committee officials and responding to public pressure from New Hampshire and candidates who refused to campaign there if they did not change the date.[17]

Controversy[edit]

Criticism of "Birther" movement[edit]

Representative Bettencourt has drawn anger from the so-called "birther" movement that does not believe President Obama is an American citizen. Following a hearing before the New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission, which unanimously rejected a “birther” effort to disqualify President Obama from the New Hampshire ballot “birthers” began shouting their displeasure at the five-member panel. Bettencourt responded with an email to “birther” leader Orly Taitz in which he said the outburst was "unbecoming of any legitimate political dialogue, never mind one as ridiculous as the continued obsession over President Obama's birth place."[18]

Following Taitz’s call demanding the removal of Secretary of State Bill Gardner for "egregious elections fraud, aiding and abetting fraud, forgery and possibly treason," Bettencourt blasted the birther leader saying “Bill Gardner is a New Hampshire treasure who has worked tirelessly for Granite Staters and the preservation of our special political culture. The fact that he has drawn this ire establishes his good judgment. Were Secretary Gardner to even entertain your request he would be putting New Hampshire’s ‘First in the Nation’ Primary in grave danger. Please, Dr. Taitz, go away and leave New Hampshire alone.”[19]

On November 26, 2011 the New Hampshire Union Leader sided with Bettencourt saying: “Some of the birthers in attendance called members of the committee traitors. That prompted a sharp rebuke from House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt. In a letter sent to Taitz and all House Republicans, he called birtherism “ridiculous,” “gobbledygook,” and a “folly.” He’s right on all three…House leadership cannot and should not enforce absolute ideological purity, of course. But the leadership’s move to isolate and rebuke this nuttery is absolutely appropriate. New Hampshire needs no association with birtherism or 9/11 kookery or any other conspiracy fantasies.”[20]

Criticism of Bishop John McCormack[edit]

Bettencourt has been criticized for statements that supporters and colleagues view as simply part of his plainspoken “no nonsense” style. His most notorious criticism came when he called New Hampshire Bishop John McCormack a “pedophile pimp” for his role in allegedly protecting abusive priests. He later apologized to McCormack in person.[21] Despite criticism Bettencourt received strong support for his assessment. Attorney Peter Hutchins who represented nearly 200 victim survivors of childhood clergy sexual abuse in New Hampshire, with 150 of those cases involving the Diocese of Manchester called the criticism leveled at Bettencourt by people who were notably “absent” in 2002 and 2003 “curious at best, disingenuous at worst.”[22] Another Attorney, Roderick MacLeish whose work for abuse victims helped spur the resignation of Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law in 2002, also supported Bettencourt saying, “I might not have used the term ‘pedophile pimp’ to describe the bishop but, stated simply, the facts are clear and unequivocal to support this assertion.”[23]

Bettencourt’s position was also greatly bolstered by New Hampshire Union Leader Publisher Joe McQuaid who penned a front editorial supportive of Bettencourt. New Hampshire’s only state-wide newspaper wrote, “This newspaper called for the resignation of Bishop John McCormack nine years ago, when it became clear just how shabby a record he had in handling pedophile priests for the equally shabby Cardinal Bernard Law in Boston…House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt would not need to apologize, as he rightly did yesterday, had he been more subtle in his remarks questioning McCormack's moral authority to criticize the Legislature last week. Tough choices to contend with New Hampshire's soaring budget ills may hurt innocent victims. But Bishop McCormack is in no position to talk, or to be listened to, on the subject of innocent victims.”[24]

Awards and Honors[edit]

In 2007, then-Speaker Terie Norelli named Bettencourt to serve on the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Committee in New Hampshire. In 2008, the New Hampshire Advantage Coalition awarded Bettencourt as their “Legislator of the Year.”

Early life and education[edit]

Bettencourt is a lifelong resident of Salem. He began his involvement in politics as an campaign volunteer for George W. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign and was an intern on Gordon J. Humphrey's 2002 gubernatorial campaign and Mitt Romney's 2002 gubernatorial campaign. Bettencourt was a special aide to Romney as governor in 2003-2004.[25]

Bettencourt played baseball in high school and college. In high school he was a Merrimack Valley Conference Player of the Year, was a Boston Globe and Boston Herald All-Scholastic player in 2002 and 2003, and was the 2002 and 2003 Lowell Sun Player of the Year. Bettencourt was a member of the 2003 Massachusetts/Connecticut All Star Team. A catcher and first baseman, Bettencourt attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst on a baseball scholarship prior to transferring to the University of New Hampshire.[26]

At the University of New Hampshire, Bettencourt received two bachelor's degrees in 2007 in political science and communication[27] Bettencourt attended, though did not graduate, from the University of New Hampshire School of Law where he served as President of the UNH Law chapter of the Federalist Society.[28]

Prior to attending law school, he was a manager of DB's Instructional Baseball and Softball Academy, a local indoor athletic facility.[29] In his free time, Bettencourt coaches baseball.[27]

Fake Internship Scandal[edit]

On May 25, 2012, Bettencourt announced that he would not seek re-election and would resign at the end of the legislative session in June to focus on his new family and would be accepting the Executive Director position with the New Hampshire Legal Rights Foundation.[30] This turned out to be a fabrication, as the group was merely "considering" him to be their Executive Director, and promptly broke ties after the scandal came to light.[31]

Soon after this announcement, another state representative, Rep. J. Brandon Giuda (R-Chichester), alleged that Bettencourt was actually resigning due to improprieties surrounding an independent study Bettencourt claimed he had undertaken at Guida's law office in order to graduate from the University of New Hampshire School of Law. Guida said that Bettencourt had approached him about partaking in a required internship with his law office, which he agreed to. However, when Bettencourt showed up for exactly one hour of the internship and never returned, he assumed that Bettencourt had simply given up. This was not the case as Guida was later to discover that Bettencourt had submitted falsified documents relating to the coursework and hearings he partook in while conducting his fake internship. Guida then immediately demanded that Bettencourt admit his wrongdoing. [32]

On May 27, 2012, Bettencourt admitted that there was a dispute regarding the independent study and that some work had been “misrepresented.” He announced that he would be leaving the legislature immediately to address the issue.[33]" (May 25, 2012).

On December 1, 2012, Bettencourt publically apologized for the controversy surrounding the scandal and his departure from the legislature, saying: “Words are inadequate to articulate my disappointment; therefore I will simply say I am sorry.” [34] He went on to say that he was planning on “dedicating myself to increasing access to justice and assisting disadvantaged children and veterans. This humbling journey will last for the rest of my life and will cultivate increased magnanimity and personal growth.”

Due to this scandal, Bettencourt did not graduate from the University of New Hampshire School of Law as originally intended.[35]

Post-Legislative Career[edit]

After mutually severing ties with the New Hampshire Legal Rights Foundation, Bettencourt was hired to become the General Manager and Director of Public Affairs for Ripp City Sports in September 2012. Additionally, he works part-time as a special education advisor in public education.[36]

On December 18, 2012, Bettencourt announced on his Facebook page that he would be a weekly columnist on national and state events for the New Hampshire Journal, an online news publication.[37]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Biographical information on NH House Republican website http://nhhousegop.com/house-republican-leadership/house-majority-office
  2. ^ a b Romney to gain key conservative N.H. endorsement http://www.boston.com/Boston/politicalintelligence/2011/09/romney-gain-key-conservative-endorsement/qFq59ZGF34gU1ID3tuFD1K/index.html
  3. ^ Damien Fisher, "[1]" (May 27, 2012). New Hampshire Union-Leader.
  4. ^ John Toole, "Bettencourt emerges as GOP House leader" (December 2, 2010). Eagle-Tribune.
  5. ^ List of Bills Sponsored http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/memberbillssponsored.aspx?member=376551
  6. ^ Press Release - Majority Leader Bettencourt on Parental Notification Bill - Belknap County Republican Committee
  7. ^ NH news, 2012 election coverage, sports, opinion & photos | Concord Monitor
  8. ^ Keep New Hampshire Income and Sales Tax Free - Salem, NH Patch
  9. ^ a b http://www.nhpr.org/category/nhpr-keywords-tags/dj-bettencourt?page=1
  10. ^ NH INSIDER- Your Source for NH Politics - Blogger Alerts
  11. ^ http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/910729-196/top-gop-leaders-in-house-share-ideas.html
  12. ^ Lynch Promises Veto for Expanded Gambling Bill - Hampton-North Hampton, NH Patch
  13. ^ a b David Bettencourt - Ratings and Endorsements - Project Vote Smart
  14. ^ New Hampshire Families for Education | NH Families for Education
  15. ^ http://www.boston.com/Boston/politicalintelligence/2011/10/mitt-romney-sidesteps-boycott-issue-underscores-support-for-primary/tRaFl5MwtStHx8idkGV5rL/index.html
  16. ^ Bettencourt: Primary 'Important Part of Heritage' - Salem, NH Patch
  17. ^ Nevada GOP folds; opens January date for NH primary | New Hampshire NEWS0605
  18. ^ NH news, 2012 election coverage, sports, opinion & photos | Concord Monitor
  19. ^ NH attorney general wants probe of legislators involved in ‘birther’ fracas | The Daily Caller
  20. ^ Rebuking birthers: Bettencourt's stand | New Hampshire OPINION01
  21. ^ http://www.boston.com/Boston/politicalintelligence/2011/09/romney-gain-key-conservative-endorsement/qFq59ZGF34gU1ID3tuFD1K/index.html
  22. ^ Law Offices of Peter E. Hutchins PLLC
  23. ^ NH news, 2012 election coverage, sports, opinion & photos | Concord Monitor
  24. ^ The Moral Authority of Bishop McCormack | National Catholic Reporter
  25. ^ http://nhhousegop.com/house-republican-leadership/house-majority-office
  26. ^ Tewksbury Redmen Baseball
  27. ^ a b Biographical data at Project Vote Smart http://www.votesmart.org/bio.php?can_id=42659
  28. ^ Bettencourt to Lead UNH Law Federalist Society - Salem, NH Patch
  29. ^ National Presidential Officials - Project Vote Smart
  30. ^ Tim Backland, "[2]"
  31. ^ http://www.unionleader.com/article/20120529/NEWS06/705299901
  32. ^ Tim Buckland, "
  33. ^ Tim Backland, "
  34. ^ http://www.eagletribune.com/latestnews/x2120609752/Former-N-H-lawmaker-apologizes-publicly
  35. ^ Bettencourt resigns amid law school scandal | Politics - WMUR Home
  36. ^ Bettencourt Named Ripp City Baseball GM - Windham, NH Patch
  37. ^ https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=11004131

External links[edit]