New Hampshire state Rep.-elect Stacie Laughton (D) — the first openly transgender person elected to any state legislature in the United States — stepped aside on Tuesday after a local newspaper reported on her prior felony convictions.
Laughton, 28, was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives earlier this month. It wasn’t until after her election that the Laconia Daily Sun reported on her three felony convictions in 2008 for credit card fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. At the time of her convictions, Laughton was known as Barry Charles Laughton and served four and a half months in prison.
Laughton completed her parole in 2010 and her sentence would have been suspended following 10 years of good behavior. She told local television station WMUR she believed she was eligible for office and was not aware of a statute that prevents felons from running for or holding office until their “final discharge.” Laughton claimed she never intended to mislead voters.
“Throughout the whole process, I did inform the voters that — well, the ones that asked, anyways — what my background was,” Laughton told WMUR. “And the ones that didn’t ask, I didn’t tell, but everything was always on the table for discussion.”
Laughton said she made the decision to quit after being contacted by New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader. She had been scheduled to take office Dec. 5.
“No one actually asked me to resign, but they were asking me to seriously consider all of the different things that have been presented to me … and they urged me to make a final decision sooner rather than later,” she said, according to the paper.