New Hampshire Casino Co-Owner Quits Study Commission, Allegations of Wrongdoing Surface

Posted on: September 3, 2023, 08:52h. 

Last updated on: September 4, 2023, 01:48h.

State Rep. Laurie Sanborn stepped down Friday as chair of a New Hampshire panel assigned to review regulations on charitable casinos.

New Hampshire Rep. Laurie Sanborn
New Hampshire Rep. Laurie Sanborn, pictured above. She stepped down from a state panel after allegations of wrongdoing surfaced. (Image: Concord Monitor)

Sanborn, R-Bedford, decided to leave the post after state and federal officials announced they launched an inquiry into how her husband allegedly spent $844K in federal COVID relief funds on three sports cars and other personal expenses.

The husband, Andy Sanborn, a former state senator, used about $80K of the money to buy Laurie a Ferrari, officials claim.

State and federal inquiries could lead to charges, administrative action, and the Sanborns losing their casino license, according to Attorney General John M. Formella.

Formella’s office, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, and New Hampshire U.S. Attorney Jane Young are each investigating the allegations.

Formella revealed on Thursday that Sanborn got a federal COVID relief loan of $844K by providing false information on his application, leaving out references to the casino on the paperwork. Casinos weren’t eligible for these loans, the Concord Monitor reported.

The Sanborns co-own the Concord Casino, located in Concord, N.H. They are attempting to open a second casino in the same city, which was already approved by the local planning board, but is now the subject of a lawsuit.

Statements on Controversy

Late last week, New Hampshire House Speaker Sherman Packard, R-Londonderry said, “Given its importance, I feel it was appropriate for Rep. Sanborn to resign as Chair of the Commission to Study the Effect of Recent Changes Made to the Charitable Gaming Laws at this time so there will be no distractions from the good work they intend to do.”

But on Friday, House Minority Leader Matt Wilhelm, a Manchester Democrat, said Packard should also replace Laurie Sanborn as chairwoman of the legislature’s House Ways and Means Committee, the New Hampshire Bulletin reported.

It was appropriate that Rep. Laurie Sanborn has decided to step away from the commission directly involved in the oversight of charitable gaming,” Wilhelm said on Friday. “However, she remains the Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, where members will resume work on retained bills specific to charitable gaming this month.”

Should She Leave Legislature?

Also, Michael Strand, D, who is a member of the Bedford town council and is the former Democratic town chairman in Peterborough, recommended that Laurie Sanborn may need to resign as a legislator.

I believe in due process and that the Sanborns are innocent until proven otherwise,” he told Patch. “However, if these allegations are true, Rep. Sanborn must resign from her elected position immediately and retire from any active career in public service.”

He also wants the voting records of both Sanborns reviewed while they held elective office to make sure there were not “any conflicts of interest.”

But Andy Sanborn is looking to clear any suspicion.

“Like so many businesses and organizations, we applied for federal relief to assist in meeting the operational challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Andy Sanborn recently said in a statement.

“Throughout the process, we did our due diligence to ensure compliance with all application requirements and standards. While I strongly disagree with the (Lottery) Commission’s statements, I welcome the examination ahead, as I have full confidence our actions were transparent and in complete accordance of the law.”