NH newspaper publisher arrested for violating political advertising laws

Debra Paul, 62, of Londonderry, New Hampshire, failed to properly identify political advertisements in her newspaper.

A New Hampshire newspaper publisher was arrested Wednesday for publishing political advertisements that did not comply with state election laws.

Debra Paul, 62, of Londonderry, New Hampshire, failed to properly identify political advertisements in her newspaper, The Londonderry Times. She was charged with six violations of the state’s misdemeanor laws on political advertisements, according to State Attorney General John M. Formella, and could face up to a year in county jail and up to $12,000 in fines.

Paul had twice previously been warned about her advertising practices in the last three years, Formella said. In September of 2021, a final warning’ letter issued by the Attorney General’s Election Law Unit “warned Paul that all political advertising must be properly labeled as such in her publication.” 


An affidavit by investigator Daniel Mederos alleges that in two different Londonderry Times issues from earlier this year, Paul printed ads for various school board and budget committee candidates that did not include a “paid for by” label within the ads, as required by state law. They also did not contain names and addresses for the ads’ financiers, which is also a requirement under state law.

Paul’s other offenses include failure to print the words “Political Advertisement” on ads pertaining to elections. Mederos has identified at least 58 violations of state advertising law over 21 different issues of The Londonderry Times since 2020.

Paul told investigators that her “memory was poor” and “did not specifically recall what was told to her in the past about what language was required for political advertisements.” Mederos wrote that he personally went over advertising requirements with Paul following a 2020 violation.

Several political candidates told Mederos that they dealt directly with Paul for advertising, and did not know about Paul’s previous violations. Paul failed to mention specific advertising requirements to them.

In a Thursday email to The Daily Beast, Paul criticized the attorney general’s action against a small-town newspaper.

“This is clearly a case of a small business needing to defend itself against overreaching government. To threaten a small business owner with jail time over something this insignificant is very heavy handed,”  she wrote. 


Paul is set to be arraigned October 19 in Derry District Court.


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