State Rep. Stella Tremblay forwarded one of the hate emails she's received this week to every member of the New Hampshire Legislature. The subject line on the email, written in response to her claim that the Boston Marathon bombings were a "Black Ops 'terrorist' attack" by the U.S. government, read "you are a f---ing idiot."
To Tremblay, the email was "pure Saul Alinsky Tactics in action." But it might as well have come from her fellow Republicans, who have expressed embarrassment and called for an apology. Tremblay says none will be coming.
The frustration Republicans are feeling now has been felt on both sides of the aisle in New Hampshire in recent years. And it prompts the question: how does one who even remotely peddles in conspiracy theory get elected to the New Hampshire House of Representative?
"It happens with a surprising degree of regularity," said Dean Spiliotes, civic scholar at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, N.H. "A lot of these people just fly under the radar."
Political observers like Spiliotes attribute it to New Hampshire's citizen Legislature, in which members receive $200 a biennium and are elected, or re-elected, every two years. By one estimate, a third of the 400-member House is new every biennium.
They are not professional politicians who get vetted along the way.
"The average voter does not really know who these people are," Spiliotes said.
They are, perhaps, more representative of the state than their legislative peers in their states. State representatives in New Hampshire include successful business people and entrepreneurs, lawyers, veterans, educators, medical professionals, artists, historians, students, retirees and homemakers, as Tremblay lists herself in the handbook of New Hampshire Elected Officials.
Fellow Republicans have disavowed her. New Hampshire Democrats are calling for Tremblay to resign. Tremblay, 61, is in her third term in Rockingham County District 4, a five-seat district that represents Auburn, Chester and Sandown. Before the decennial redistricting, Auburn was with Londonderry in a nine-seat district.
Rep. Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderry), a conservative Republican, said in an interview that Tremblay, as she herself expressed, didn't articulate her thoughts so artfully.
"I don't support what she's saying," Baldasaro said. "It does not reflect on the House or New Hampshire." Still, he added, she has every right to speak her mind.
And that she does. Tremblay, in 2012, also promoted emails and a video that she claimed questioned President Obama's citizenship.
Legislators speaking their mind and making headlines for controversial comments is nothing new in New Hampshire. Locals are happy to forget former state Rep. Tom Alciere, who advocated killing police officers back in 2001.
In 2011, Rep. Timothy Horrigan (D-Durham) resigned after a Facebook post about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. His Facebook post in question: "I don't wish Sarah Palin dead ... but not merely for compassionate reasons...Well a dead Palin wd be even more dangerous than a live one...she is all about her myth & if she was dead she cldn't commit any more gaffes."
Today, Horrigan is back in the House. Like Tremblay, he's in his third session. Facebook was at the core of each of their controversies.
Social media allows any quip or comment to mushroom beyond one's circle. It allows like-minded people to connect and reinforce their beliefs, as Spiliotes tells his university students. It also emboldens them to express opinions that are beyond the mainstream.
Tremblay is standing by her "Black Ops" comment she made on Glenn Beck's Facebook page on April 19, before the second suspect was captured. She is not backing down from her belief that there's something suspicious about the two blasts on Boylston Street that killed three people and injured nearly 200. The media and Americans in general must do more to question the government, she insists.
Beyond the hate mail, and a few constituents she said have called her an "idiot," Tremblay told reporters she has also received email supporting her comments.
Here's here Facebook comment that stoked this latest controversy:
"The Boston Marathon was a Black Ops 'terrorist' attack. One suspect killed, the other one will be too before they even have a chance to speak. Drones and now "terrorist" attacks by our own Government. Sad day, but a "wake up" to all of us."