Conservative radio talk show host Rich Girard is offering a $1,000 reward for any information regarding who distributed the controversial “Pedophiles are Coming!” flier in Candia last week. Girard believes that people he termed “saboteurs” might be behind the flier, which alerted parents of school children about proposed bathroom and shower arrangements for transgender students being considered by the Candia School Board.
The flier, which was handed out anonymously before the Thursday, April 7 meeting of the Candia School Board at Henry Moore School, featured the headline “PEODOPHILES are Coming! WARNING!! PARENTS….” The flier gave the details of the meeting, which it went on to say was, “To discuss a Policy that would allow BOYS and GIRLS to use the SAME bathrooms and showers.” At the bottom of the flier was the url for the Girard at Large web site with the word info. in parentheses following it. Written on the last line of the flier was “Oh My Blog” and the name Ann Marie Banfield.
“Boys to shower with girls in NH schools?” was the title Banfield gave her opinion piece published on the web site’s “Oh My Head” blog, named after a catchphrase frequently used by Girard. Banfield’s op-ed never mentions the word “pedophile” or raises the subject of pedophilia.
Starting with his Monday, April 11 broadcast, Girard stressed his belief that a person reading the flier would assume that it was sponsored by his radio show and Banfield. In a Union Leader article published on April 8 and a short piece published on the NH1 News website on August 9, both Girard and Banfield denied any connection to the flier. Girard did not raise the issue of sabotage on either news platform.
On his Wednesday, April 13 broadcast, Girard said he had gotten feedback from a listener who believed that the flier meant to direct its readers to access the Banfield article on the Girard at Large website to get more information on the proposal. He seemed willing to take one step back from his allegation that he was the victim of political saboteurs out to smear him.
Girard’s backpedaling strategy likely was in response to his blame-shifting rhetoric, as some of his listeners had accused him of sponsoring the flier. Social media critics believe that Girard’s “saboteurs” are red herrings intended to draw attention away from the people most likely behind the fliers, anti-Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender rights activists opposed to accommodations for transgender students.
On Wednesday, Girard conceded that the fliers may have been created and distributed in Candia by people opposed to accommodating transgender students, a position he is sympathetic to. Girard has been careful to point out he is not against individual transgender students and disapproves of the heated rhetoric in the flier.
Some critics claim the radio talk show host’s caution is rooted in his need, now that he is serving his first term on the Manchester School Board, to live down a reputation for recklessness rooted in a two-year-old sex scandal. The initial charge of political sabotage charge was evocative of Girard’s behavior after having been exposed for having sexted with a young woman suffering from borderline personality disorder in July 2014.
In an interview with Union Leader political columnist Ted Siefer, Girard suggested that there would have been no sexting scandal if his nemesis Alderman-at-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur hadn’t publicized it. Using a “shoot the messenger” tack, Girard tried to shift the blame from the perpetrator to the person who reported his transgression.
A former alderman who lost a bid for mayor in 2001, Girard managed to survive the 2014 sexting scandal despite Levasseur having publicized the actual texts of the erotic Facebook posts shared by the talk show host and Melissa “Little Mel” Gavazzi. At the height of the Girard sexting scandal, Levasseur posted a video on YouTube that revealed the Girard-Little Mel Facebook “sexts.”
The video was taken down by Levasseur during the 2015 municipal election, when he was seeking reelection as alderman-at-large. In that election cycle, Girard, having been out of office for 16 years, was running for an at-large seat on the School Board. Both Levasseur and Girard, who are Republicans, won their campaigns, with Girard staging a major upset against Democratic incumbent Kathy Staub.
In a 2014 interview between this reporter and Gavazzi, she said that Girard attempted to groom her as a libertarian columnist for the Bedford Patch website. Gavazzi said she “loved” Girard, but did not want to enter into a sexual relationship with him, and when he pestered her, she outed him. Gavazzi subsequently left New Hampshire.
One of the bombshells of the sexting texts revealed by the YouTube video was Girard’s inquiry about whether Gavazzi had been fitted with an intrauterine device (IUD). Girard publicly portrays himself as a staunch pro-life Catholic, even attacking U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte for not being pro-life enough, yet the Catholic Church considers the IUD as an abortifacient, a birth control device that can terminate the viability of fertilized eggs and embryos.
According to a Planned Parenthood video, the non-hormonal IUD that uses copper can be an “effective” birth control device for up to five days after having “unprotected sex.” The owners of Hobby Lobby Stores went to court to gain the right not to cover IUDs under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) as they consider them an abortifacient.
Ironically, Anne Marie Banfield is the educational liaison of Cornerstone Action, the lobbying arm of the New Hampshire-based conservative think tank Cornerstone Policy Research, which proselytizes for pro-life, anti-gay marriage policies. Cornerstone Executive Director Bryan McCormick hailed the U.S. Supreme Court’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision upholding the right of closely held corporations to ignore Obamacare’s contraception mandate on the basis of religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby is owned by David Green and his family, evangelical Christians who believe that life begins at the moment a human egg is fertilized.