Letters: Conflict or Corruption?

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To the Editor:

Conflicts of interest rely on more than just monetary benefit. Per official ethics guidelines, a potential conflict of interest exists when a lawmaker—or someone in their household—is responsible for the financial welfare of an organization, even if uncompensated for their work.

A real-life example is that of House Majority Leader Jason Osborne (R-Auburn). His 2023 financial disclosure does not mention that his wife, Sharon Osborne, serves as Chairman of the Board at Latitude Learning, a homeschool cooperative. Rep. Osborne is required to report this potential conflict in his disclosure. However, this oversight is not his only violation of the public trust.

On February 8, the legislature voted on HB1561, HB1634, and HB1665, all bills related to the education voucher program. Rep. Osborne did not recuse himself on any of these votes, even though Latitude Learning accepts voucher funds—$28,750 in 2022.

Ethics guidelines speak directly to such a scenario: “A legislator is required to file [a Declaration of Intent] form…[w]henever a legislator or a legislator’s household member has a nonfinancial personal interest in the outcome of a matter that is the subject of official activity…and the legislator has not made the disclosure on the General Disclosure of Non-Financial Personal Interests Form.”

It’s possible to file a complaint with the Legislative Ethics Committee, but such a complaint is considered confidential by law, and revealing any investigation to the public is a misdemeanor offense. Readers are encouraged to submit a confidential complaint here.


Jon Kiper

Jon Kiper is a Democratic candidate for governor.

About this Author

Jon Kiper

Jon Kiper is a lifelong New Hampshire resident, community activist, and former Town Councilor. He is currently seeking the Democratic nomination for New Hampshire Governor. He is also the owner and operator of Jonny Boston’s International, a Newmarket eatery. While on the Newmarket Town Council, he successfully pushed the planning board to legalize tiny houses, implemented an ordinance to allow restaurants to serve alcohol in sidewalk seating areas, and spearheaded a successful initiative for food composting at the town transfer station. He is a co-founder of the Newmarket Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention, and he has been instrumental in forming the Wentworth Cheswell Monument Committee, which is fundraising to build a statue of the first African American elected to public office in the United States. He currently serves on the board of Newmarket Main Street Corporation, which works to preserve and honor the history of the town of Newmarket. He lives in Newmarket with his 7-year-old son, Oliver, and their cat, Duck.