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Bragdon to step down as N.H. Senate president

CONCORD, N.H. — Three days after announcing his new position as executive director of New Hampshire’s Local Government Center, Peter Bragdon said he will step down as state Senate president to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The Milford Republican said Friday he realizes his new position might cause some people to question the openness and integrity of the Senate.

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The Local Government Center is an umbrella organization overseeing a health care trust, a workers’ compensation trust, and a liability and property trust in which many municipalities participate.

Bragdon originally said he would abstain from taking part in any legislation related to municipal and school insurance risk pools, but Democrats questioned that.

‘‘Almost every single issue and/or piece of legislation that comes before the State Senate impacts the LGC or its sister organization, the [New Hampshire] Municipal Association,’’ a statement from the state Democratic Party said. A party spokesman said Friday that questions remain about Bragdon’s votes and impartiality leading up to his selection for the $180,000-a-year job.

Governor Maggie Hassan called Bragdon’s decision to give up his leadership position ‘‘appropriate,’’ and said she looks forward to working with his successor.

Bragdon said he will call the Senate back into session to allow him to step down from his position as president and to choose a new president. He said he expects that to happen as soon after Labor Day as all 24 senators can attend.

‘I realize my new position . . . may cause some people to question the openness and integrity of the Senate.’

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‘‘It has been an unbelievable honor and pleasure to serve as president of the state Senate for the past three years,’’ Bragdon said, ‘‘but I realize my new position as executive director of the Local Government Center may cause some people to question the openness and integrity of the Senate, attributes that I have worked hard to nurture as president.’’

He said he recognized ‘‘the perception of impropriety could still exist’’ if he were to remain Senate president.

Bragdon is serving his fifth term in the Senate, and he will continue to serve as a legislator. He has been its president since December 2010.

Bragdon has taught high school math, is the former president of an Amherst software company, and once owned the Milford Observer newspaper.

After Sept. 1, the New Hampshire Municipal Association, the lobbying and public information arm for cities and towns, will become separate from the Local Government Center and hire its own executive director.

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