scandal-stained wretches

The Totally Absurd, Amazing Story of How Running Over Some Ducks at 15 mph Brought Down a New Hampshire Politician and Police Commissioner

Dave “Duck Killer” Campbell. Photo: New Hampshire House of Representative

It’s like House of Cards but the opposite of sexy, and could fuel an entire season of Veep.

New Hampshire state representative David Campbell has announced he will not run for reelection, and his buddy, Nashua police commissioner Thomas Pappas, resigned in February amid an Attorney General investigation into the wanton murder of five ducks by Campbell at a local hotel. And while Campbell claims the incident, known as Duckgate (of course), is not the reason he’s stepping aside, and his lawyer has called the probe a “fishing expedition into Mr. Campbell’s personal life,” it’s obvious that the town and its power players, not to mention the local duck community, have been shaken to their core by this bizarre series of events.

For Campbell and Pappas, it wasn’t, as they say, the crime, but the cover-up. Taken as a whole, it is hilarious.

The 14-page report by the Attorney General is worth reading in full, but here are the highlights, enhanced by the official tone. It all started at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, where the powerful gathered late last December for a holiday party, and the ducks liked the hangout:

When a van, driven by one Stanley Clark, arrived from the airport carrying a flight crew, including Southwest pilot James Murphy — “Airline crews look forward to seeing the ducks, and often bring leftover snacks from the flight to feed the ducks,” the report states — Campbell was driving the wrong way right toward the ducks:

Following the argument, Campbell parked and was seen using what appeared to be mouthwash, and then called his friend Pappas for a ride to a “lady friend’s apartment.”

Together, they considered the consequences without incriminating one another:

Pappas eventually did the right thing and called the police, and this conversation actually happened:

Campbell, who did not cooperate in the investigation, was later determined to have consumed a glass of wine and some Patron, but insisted he was not drunk. He eventually paid a $695 fine for the “illegal taking of waterfowl,” and the AG concluded this week that, “While Campbell’s and Pappas’s versions of the events in many regards are simply not credible, their actions do not give rise to criminal violations.” Their careers, however, will forever be marred by the events of that night.

All hotel witnesses stated that while an individual duck had been hit by a car, albeit rarely,” the report states in its “analysis” section, “five ducks have never been killed in one incident.” And may they never be again.

Duckgate: The Best Political Scandal of the Year