a divorced dad who regularly attends
legislative hearings on family-law
bills, calls himself "a righteous
force for equality and fairness
in the true best interests of
New Hampshire's children."
But his tactics go too far, some
lawmakers and lobbyists said.
Snider posted a photo of a lobbyist,
identifying her and others he
says do the bidding of "radical
anti-father ideologues" and
manipulate policy from "the
shadows." He has also posted
pictures of House Children and
Family Law Committee members on
his website, along with a scorecard
to be filled in with their votes.
He has videotaped
multiple committee hearings, including
one last week where he pointed
his camera toward the audience
– making a couple of lobbyists
from family organizations feel
intimidated or reluctant to testify,
said Rep. Mary Stuart Gile, a
Concord Democrat who raised the
issue at a subsequent committee
session. "There were a number
of people who felt threatened,"
custody and child-support legislation
typically draw impassioned fathers
who say the divorce system discriminates
against them by creating two classes
of parents. Many tell stories
about their struggles to maintain
access to their children and some
regularly send e-mails to lawmakers.
has moved past the realm of policy
with his website, said Grace Mattern,
executive director of the New
Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic
and Sexual Violence.
one thing to disagree with someone
about a subject area, but to take
it to a level of being personal
and to make incorrect statements
about an organization, I think,
is really unfair," she said.
Snider and others allied with
him have contributed to a "new
level of animosity" over
family-law issues, Mattern said.
Snider as the victim of a smear
campaign. The issue has split
members of the House committee,
some of whom say the lobbyists
going to throw it, you've got
to be able to receive it. And
if they're on the receiving end,
they don't like it," said
Rep. Karen McRae, vice chairwoman
of the committee and a Goffstown
Republican. Any lobbyist afraid
to be videotaped "should
get out of politics right now,"
Bickford, a committee member who
has sponsored several bills that
Snider supports, called the complaints
about discomfort a last-ditch
tactic used by lobbyists to divert
attention from the merits of legislation.
"They're trying to play that
they're the victims," said
Bickford, a New Durham Republican.
"I find that underhanded.
I don't believe for a minute they're
too much has been made of the
lobbying page on his website,
which includes a photo of Coalition
lobbyist Amanda Grady, her work
contact number and information
about her other political activities,
including a link to another site
with her personal phone number.
Bickford came to Snider's aid
last fall when concerns were first
raised. The site contains only
public information, he said, and
anyone who calls the page threatening
is playing "dirty politics."
software engineer from Merrimack,
has been a fixture at family-law
hearings for about a year. After
his 2001 divorce, he spent more
than two years struggling to gain
40 percent legal custody of his
daughter, now 9. His ex-wife "conspired
with the courts and family law
to keep us apart," he said.
started to research the system
and meet other fathers with similar
stories, he took an interest in
policy. That's when he discovered,
he said, that family law tended
to be shaped less by family interests
than by "father-hating groups
that don't believe that fathers
should play, need to play or must
play an active role in the lives
of their children."
and videotaping are not about
personal attacks, Snider said,
but about lending transparency
to the process. He removed the
photos of legislators from his
site last year after some complained.
But he has no plans to turn his
focus from the lobbyists, he said.
lawmakers passed the Parental
Rights and Responsibilities Act,
a measure designed to make divorce
less acrimonious and focus parents
on sharing responsibilities. But
legislatorsheld off on a bill
that would give both parents 50
percent custody at the start of
court proceedings. That bill would
also require a judge or court
official to explain the rationale
behind custody decisions. Snider
is a staunch advocate of those
measures as well as others, like
a bill that would revise the child-support
formula so payments would be tied
to custody, giving fathers financial
credit for time with their children.
Many of the
dads who testify want all their
reforms enacted at once, Gile
said, but they need to be patient
with the legislative process.
She said that pinpointing individual
lobbyists for criticism isn't
the right way to advocate change.
"It doesn't do his cause
any good to make people angry,
to threaten people," she
said. "If good, quality change
is going to come about, then it's
got to come about in a reasonable
and thoughtful way."
public policy director for the
Coalition Against Domestic and
Sexual Violence, said the debate
grew more rancorous last year
than it had been in the previous
decade. Last fall especially,
she said, "when people would
testify with an opposing viewpoint,
there was definitely jeering,
laughing - just general disrespect
for the people who are testifying."
allegations have been filed against
Snider. But that didn't stop him
from sending a letter to the committee
chairman, the governor, the Executive
Council and others this week expressing
his concern about an attempt by
lobbyists to discredit him by
painting him as a threatening
presence, "to prevent my
continued participation in the
legislative process." He
also requested that all committee
business be videotaped by the
to happen, for budget reasons.
But state law gives Snider the
right to tape, subject to "reasonable
restrictions."Rep. Ed Moran,
the Children and Family Law Committee
chairman, said he would ask anyone
seeking to videotape in the future
to check with him first, "to
make sure the equipment is set
up and operated in the least obtrusive
manner possible." Otherwise,
he hoped to avoid the fray between
Snider and the lobbyists. "We
really try to stay out of the
histrionics," he said.
By ERIC MOSKOWITZ
About time the
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