Top Democrat in New Hampshire Senate Faces Domestic Violence Charges, Calls to Resign

Jeff Woodburn / @SenJeffWoodBurn Twitter

The top Democrat in the New Hampshire state Senate was arrested on Thursday on nine misdemeanor counts of domestic violence. Jeff Woodburn, the Senate minority leader, has vowed to fight the allegations even as he faces bipartisan calls to resign.

"I intend to fully address and defend against these charges in court," Woodburn said. The attorney general’s office accuses Woodburn of incidents extending back to last August, including "repeatedly biting a woman described as an ‘intimate partner,’ striking her face and stomach, throwing water at her and causing damage to her property," the Washington Post reports.

Republicans and Democrats in the state have swiftly called for Woodburn's resignation.

"This morally reprehensible, violent behavior has no place in public service, or anywhere else," Gov. Chris Sununu (R.) stated. Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said "any form of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or domestic violence is completely unacceptable behavior for anyone let alone our public officials who should all be held to a higher standard."

Woodburn, who represents Senate District 1, is a third-term senator who is running for reelection to a fourth term. He was chosen to lead the Senate’s Democratic caucus in 2014.

Former Rep. Dick Swett (D.), for whom Woodburn worked as an aide early in his career, called the allegations "shocking."

Republicans currently hold a 14-10 majority in the New Hampshire state Senate. Eight of Woodburn’s Democratic colleagues released a statement calling for his resignation. "Sen. Woodburn is entitled to full due process, but we jointly call on him to resign effective immediately."

One senate Democrat, Lou D’Allesandro, did not join the statement. "He deserves his day in court. And that’s why we have courts. I’m sure there are two sides to every story. These charges are awful, but (resigning) is his decision to make. He’s got to do what he thinks is the right thing to do."

New Hampshire Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan–both Democrats–also urged Woodburn to resign. "We must never tolerate the grave and despicable crime of domestic violence," Hassan said.