New Hampshire's Virtual Town Hall
The politics and public policy surrounding the House version of the state budget has been contentious enough.
Now it’s getting personal too.
The House majority leader called a Catholic bishop a “pedophile pimp” and state troopers had to be assigned to the home of the House speaker.
Check our State Budget issue to see the full range of coverage on the development and reaction to the $10.17 billion spending plan approved by the House on Thursday for the fiscal years 2012 and 2013.
Included in the crowd that protested the budget cuts was Catholic Bishop John McCormack. He said the Republican House budget plan neglects society's obligation to care for the poor and vulnerable.
Yesterday on his Facebook page, House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt wrote:
"Bishop John McCormick of the Catholic Diocese of NH told the crowd, 'It's a moral concern (because) the vulnerable take priority in any society.' Would the Bishop like to discuss his history of protecting the 'vulnerable'? This man is a pedophile pimp who should have been led away from the State House in handcuffs with a rain coat over his head in disgrace. He has absolutely no moral credibility to lecture anyone."
McCormack had worked for Cardinal Bernard F. Law in the Archdiocese of Boston, which was accused in scandals involving the sexual abuse of Catholic boys by priests. McCormack was assigned to the abuse complaints and was criticized for reassigning priests rather than taking more direct action. He came to New Hampshire as Bishop of Manchester in 1998.
In reaction to Bettencourt, Kevin Donovan, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester, said in a statement: “That statement is clearly false, defamatory and detracts from the real issue.”
Bettencourt, himself a Catholic, didn’t back down and said in a statement: “He stepped on to secular soil yesterday and he should not be above being called out on the merits of his words and actions."
House Speaker William O’Brien backed his majority leader.
"I certainly agree with the concerns,” said O’Brien, who is also Catholic. “I don't agree with the language or the implications of the language."
Others in the GOP were critical.
Said NHGOP chair Jack Kimball: "I have not yet spoken to Mr. Bettencourt personally about his comments, but I am disappointed with his words and I don't share his sentiments."
Meanwhile, it was not known why troopers were assigned to the Mount Vernon home of Speaker O’Brien.
The House budget includes laying off 17 troopers.
State Police Commander Col. Robert Quinn would not disclose why the security was needed. Quinn described the security detail as a rare occurrence, saying to the Portsmouth Herald, “Hopefully this is something that will not be ongoing.”
What do you feel about the comments of House Majority Leader Bettencourt? Were they warranted? Did McCormack do the right thing? Should clergy speak out on political issues?