AG MacDonald says he didn’t participate in group linked to Capitol riot

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Attorney General Gordon MacDonald.  File Photo/Paula Tracy,

CONCORD, NH – Attorney General Gordon MacDonald said he was not part of the effort by the Republican Attorneys General Association to send people to the U.S. Capitol last week to protest the election results.

MacDonald said through a representative that he condemns the violence that took place during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, and he condemns the actions of the Republican Attorneys General Association.

“Sending out such a call from a group of attorneys general is plainly wrong and Attorney General MacDonald denounces it,” said Kate Giaquinto, director of communications for the New Hampshire Office of the Attorney General. “He condemns the violence that occurred in the strongest possible terms.”

While MacDonald is still a member of the organization, he stopped participating in 2017 because of the partisan nature of the Republican Attorneys General Association, according to Giaquinto.

In a required filing with the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office on Dec. 28, 2017, MacDonald said he attended the Republican Attorneys General Association’s fall meeting and was reimbursed $2,609.94 for the trip. It didn’t appear that he filed for reimbursements of any kind in the following years.

“The Republican Attorneys General Association automatically includes every Attorney General who is a registered Republican to their member list,” Giaquinto said. “However, in 2017 Attorney General MacDonald concluded that, given RAGA’s partisan efforts, it would be inappropriate for him to participate in its activities or that of any of its affiliates.”

Wednesday’s Washington, D.C., protest turned into a violent insurrection in which members of a pro-President Donald Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. The rioters interrupted Congress, which was in the process of certifying the election of President-Elect Joe Biden, looted offices, defecated in the halls of Congress, and engaged in violence with police, among other actions. Four people are dead, including a Capitol Hill police officer.

In the days leading up to the insurrection, the Republican Attorneys General Association, using a political fundraising arm known as the Rule of Law Defense Fund, paid for a robo-call encouraging people to go to the Wednesday protest, according to multiple media reports.

Gov. Chris Sununu, who has called the Wednesday rioters “domestic terrorists” and condemned the violence, stood by MacDonald and his explanation that he was not involved with the group. Sununu is pushing to get MacDonald appointed to the state Supreme Court as chief justice.

“Attorney General Gordon MacDonald’s statement on his involvement with the Republican Attorneys General Association speaks for itself,” Sununu said. “Gordon has served our state with integrity for years, and I have complete confidence he will continue to serve our state with distinction as the next Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court.”

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley said MacDonald’s continued membership in the group raises troubling questions about his ability to be an unbiased justice.

“Gordon MacDonald’s history of close personal and professional involvement with the Republican Attorneys General Association raises serious concerns about his ability to be an effective and unbiased judge,” Buckley said.

Sununu nominated MacDonald for the position in 2019 but was rejected when the state’s Democratic-controlled Executive Council voted against him. Sununu responded by leaving the seat vacant. Now with a Republican majority on the council, Sununu has brought back MacDonald’s nomination.

Sununu continued on Monday to condemn the violence, which he said was partially instigated by Trump. Sununu stopped short of calling for Trump to be removed, saying any potential impeachment would be a question for Congress. Articles of impeachment were introduced in Congress on Monday, and could be voted on as soon as Wednesday.