Politics /

New Hampshire Newspaper Publisher Arrested for Violating Political Ad Law Accuses State of Government Overreach

Debra Paul could be fined $12,000 and spend a year in jail

New Hampshire police arrested a newspaper editor who allegedly violated state election law by publishing political advertisements without proper identification. 

Debra Paul, the 62-year-old editor of The Londonberry Times, was charged with six misdemeanor counts of violating political advertising law and could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and be fined as much as $12,000.

The state investigator said Paul did not include a “paid for by” label on advertisements for political candidates seeking election to school boards and budget committees in two different issues of her paper that were published in February and March of 2022. The state also contends that election-related advertisements were not marked with the label “Political Advertisement.”

Investigator Daniel Mederos stated in an affidavit that he found “at least 58 violations of state advertising law over 21 different issues of The Londonderry Times since 2020,” per Boston.com.

The New Hampshire attorney general noted in a press release that Paul had been contacted about this issue on two prior occasions.

In March of 2019, the AG’s office sent a letter to Paul noting that she had not included language denoting a political advertisement in an ad published in the newspaper and warned her to include the label in the future. 

The AG said Paul was sent a “final warning” letter by the Election Law Unit in September of 2021. 

“The charges and allegations are merely accusations,” said the Office of the Attorney General. “Ms. Paul is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

Paul, who was arrested on Aug. 24, released a statement on Aug. 27 lambasting the state’s actions.

“This is clearly a case of a small business needing to defend itself against overreaching government,” Paul said, per AP News. “I would like to think the attorney general’s office has more important matters to deal with than to send press releases out on misdemeanors such as this … With multiple unsolved homicides over the past year, this seems a bit absurd.”

Her lawyer, Tony Naro, said, “The Londonderry Times is among the dwindling numbers of small newspapers in New Hampshire, as well as around the country,”

The Londonderry Times does their absolute best to put out a quality publication with limited staff and a limited budget,” said Naro, per Fox 46. “Ms. Paul acted with no criminal intent, denies the allegations, and is presumed innocent.”

Paul is scheduled to be arraigned in Derry District Court on Oct. 19. The case is being prosecuted by Deputy General Counsel Myles Matteson and Attorney Matt Conley of the Election Law Unit.

*For corrections please email [email protected]*