NH Attorney General: Rochester Candidate’s Video Was a Joke
The New Hampshire Attorney General's office accepted the explanation by Democratic state representative candidate Kathleen Cavalaro that a TikTok video she posted about Massachusetts voters taking a bus to her Rochester district to vote was intended as a joke.
"You can actually vote for me. Just get on one of those buses that comes in from Massachusetts and go to Ward 2 in Rochester and vote for me," Cavalaro said in the video. The video was shared numerous times on social media and complaints were made to the attorney general's office, prompting an investigation.
The attorney general's office said that in the original post, Cavalaro pinned a comment that the video was a joke.
“For legal reasons and bc Repubs are not funny, this is a joke. I am making fun of Republicans," Cavalaro wrote.
The pinned comment is what convinced the attorney general's office that a joke was the true intent of the post. The video is not a criminal solicitation for illegal votes, and is protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Video Could Still Be Trouble
The office also recommended that the video be taken down because it could lead to "confusion" and even criminal charges if a Massachusetts resident showed up in Rochester looking to vote.
"In the alternative, this Office has requested that Ms. Cavalaro use her social media platform(s) to clarify that registering to vote in New Hampshire requires that a person must be domiciled in New Hampshire," read a statement from the Attorney General's office.
In a response to the decision by the Attorney General's office on her Facebook page, Cavalro said Republicans led by candidate Terese Grinell attempted to use the video to get her charged with a crime, which would have led to jail time and fines, and failed.
"Yes, Republicans are mad their stunts backfired, raising thousands of dollars and plenty of attention to defeat them in Rochester and beyond," Cavalro posted.
Cavlaro said that the decision by the Attorney General's office proves that political speech and satire in the United States is the most protected in the world, thanks to the First Amendment.
"It is still legal to criticize Republicans, and it is still legal to tell jokes at their expense as much as they would wish it were not so. The AG’s office agrees," Cavlaro wrote.
Cavlaro said the video will not be coming down, a move she said would only "embolden Republicans to attempt the intimidation of other, less protected candidates."