In 2010, Rep. D.J. Bettencourt became the youngest majority leader in the history of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, as well as the youngest House majority leader of any state legislature in the U.S. On May 25, 2012, Bettencourt announced his resignation
from the House, citing his upcoming wedding and his new job as executive director of the New Hampshire Legal Rights Foundation
. Three days after his resignation, Bettencourt resigned again
– this time with an apology for “misrepresenting [his] work.”
What happened between the first resignation and the second? Less than a week before his resignation, Bettencourt graduated from University of New Hampshire School of Law. This came as a surprise to the supervising attorney
of Bettencourt’s spring semester internship, who alleged that Bettencourt had 1) confided to him that he needed an internship to earn the credits required for graduation, and 2) performed little more than an hour of legal work on the one day in the entire semester that he actually showed up. Upon learning that Bettencourt had graduated, the attorney contacted UNH Law and discovered that Bettencourt had submitted extensive records and reports for work he had never completed.
How Bettencourt planned to keep his plan a secret is something of a mystery, considering that the supervising attorney of his internship was his House colleague, and fellow Republican, J. Brandon Giuda.
Giuda ultimately confronted Bettencourt, who agreed to resign. When Bettencourt did resign, but offered his wedding and his new job as his reasons for leaving, Giuda threatened to make the internship documents public unless Bettencourt disclosed the true reason for his resignation.
Although Bettencourt is now gone from the House, questions remain
, particularly concerning the role of House Speaker Bill O’Brien, who is also the founder of the New Hampshire Legal Rights Foundation (which has rescinded its job offer to Bettencourt, and has scrubbed all mention of Bettencourt from its web page). A Portsmouth Herald editorial
notes that this incident is just one lie of many from the New Hampshire GOP caucus, but this could be the lie that costs Bill O’Brien his seat in November.