PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire — A campaign ally for incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) is under criminal investigation by the Portsmouth Police Department for allegedly assaulting a campaign volunteer for former Sen. Scott Brown, Sergeant Chris Kiberd confirmed to Breitbart News via telephone on Saturday.
“I have nothing else I can give you on it at this point because that information broke last night during his shift [Sgt. Dave Keaveny’s] and it’s only been a few hours,” Kiberd said when reached by phone on Saturday. “The detective who’s handling that is not in right now. But he’s assigned to the case and he’s going to be following up on that.”
Keaveny, the sergeant on duty on Friday night, told the Portsmouth Herald that former Democratic Sen. Burt Cohen is under investigation by the Portsmouth Police Department for allegedly assaulting a Brown campaign volunteer, shouting obscenities at the Brown campaign bus, and attempting to force his way onto the bus after being asked to leave.
“Our portion is still under investigation at this point,” Keaveny told the local paper. “We got a call because there was a disturbance by the bus. We responded but are still trying to sort out what happened.”
Kiberd confirmed to Breitbart News that Cohen is “under investigation” and that local Detective Robert Munson has been assigned to investigate the matter. “This will hopefully be resolved by tomorrow,” Kiberd said. It’s unclear at this time what resolution may come and whether charges will be filed against Cohen.
According to Brown campaign adviser Ryan Williams, after the campaign bus dropped Brown, his wife Gail Huff, daughter Ayla Brown, and many other campaign staff off in downtown Portsmouth for a Halloween festival, the bus took Brown’s sister and niece to the local high school for the annual Halloween football game. When the bus got there, Brown’s niece–a student at Portsmouth High School–invited some of her friends onto the bus to check it out before they headed to the game. But their plans went horribly awry when Shaheen’s campaign ally Cohen allegedly began “screaming obscenities” at the bus, according to Williams.
Cohen’s behavior prompted the Brown campaign volunteer aboard the bus to come out and ask him to stop and leave, Williams said. At that point, Williams claimed things got physical.
Williams alleged that Cohen “laid his hands on” the campaign staffer who was on the bus with Brown’s sister and niece. Williams claimed Cohen attempted to board the bus without permission and “physically assaulted” the Brown campaign volunteer while trying to get on board.
The Brown campaign volunteer called the police. Cohen left the area of the bus at that point but came back to the bus and began knocking on its window, video shows. The video was captured by either Brown’s niece or one of her friends and was provided to the police officials investigating, to the Portsmouth Herald, and to Breitbart News.
WATCH THE VIDEO:
“He’s–he’s right there,” says a young woman, either Brown’s niece or one of her friends, at the beginning of the video. The video is being shot by a cell phone looking out the side window of the bus, and shows Cohen approaching the side of the bus.
“He’s coming back–he’s coming back after him!” a second woman, Brown’s sister, says next. “Unbelievable. What is wrong with this–?”
Williams told Breitbart News that the first part of the altercation was not caught on video, and the only video that’s available is the second part.
Officers set out on a manhunt to find Cohen, who had disappeared amid the football game at that point. Cohen said in an interview with the Portsmouth Herald via phone that he spoke with police and doesn’t expect charges to be filed–even though both Sergeants Kiberd and Keaveny confirm he’s under investigation.
Cohen denied the first part of the incident–where he allegedly assaulted the Brown volunteer and attempted to storm his way onto the bus–in the interview with the local paper, but did admit to the second part of the incident where he approached the bus as seen in the video.
“Reached by phone, Cohen admitted he approached the bus, to ask how long they intended to idle the bus. He absolutely denies trying to force his way on the bus or touching any member of the Brown campaign,” the Portsmouth Herald‘s Karen Dandurant wrote.
Cohen said he was upset the bus was running while it wasn’t being driven–and was afraid the idling would hurt the environment.
“I told them it is pollution,” Cohen said. “I care about things like that.”
Cohen said that when the Brown campaign asked him to leave the area–something he says was them getting “nasty” with him–that “unfortunately I got nasty in turn.”
“I did swear and I regret that,” Cohen said. “I think things got caught up in the heat of the campaign. That does happen.”
He apologized at least one more time to the local newspaper. “I am really upset and regretful,” Cohen said. “This should not have ended this way.”
Brown, his wife Gail, daughter Ayla, GOP gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein, Havenstein’s wife, and several Brown and Havenstein staffers had been passing out candy to children at the Halloween festival downtown Portsmouth when Brown got the news of what happened on the bus. Downtown Portsmouth is closed off for several blocks every Halloween for a parade, where the local school marching bands march down the street and adults and children alike all dress up in Halloween costumes with them.
Brown mingled with the thousands of people in the blue collar town, trying to convince them to vote for him. One man, a military veteran, asked Brown to convince him to vote for him, saying he had reservations–but after about two minutes, Brown won him over. Others told him they’re normally Democrats but they’re voting for him, and Brown could barely get through the throngs lining up to take pictures with him. Some were a bit surprised at first to see him, and wondered if it was really Scott Brown joining them for the Halloween parade.
Based on the sheer number of people who came up to him throughout the night telling him they’re voting for him, he’s going to get at least a few thousand votes from Portsmouth. By comparison, the town was one of the strongest areas for Democrat Paul Hodes in 2010’s election where Kelly Ayotte beat Hodes by double digits statewide. Hodes got about 4,000 votes from Portsmouth’s five wards in 2010, but Ayotte only got about 3,000. Brown’s everyman, grassroots appeal seems to work in these blue collar towns.
When Brown got the call about what happened on the campaign bus, however, he was visibly irate. “They can come after me all they want, but to go after my family?” he said to this reporter. “That’s unacceptable. What did they do to deserve this?”
Brown talked on his cell phone, presumably to his sister and the others on site, getting all the details about exactly what happened and ensuring that everyone was safe and that Cohen did not hurt anybody.
Williams, Brown’s campaign adviser, called on Sen. Shaheen to denounce Cohen’s behavior.
“We are calling on Jeanne Shaheen to denounce this behavior, and to return any campaign contributions from Burt Cohen,” said Williams. “This man terrorized Scott’s sister, his niece and her friends. He physically assaulted one of our volunteers. We locked the bus and he was going around it, banging on it.”
Cohen is a campaign ally and donor to Shaheen’s re-election campaign. He was at a Shaheen campaign event in Portsmouth on Wednesday, Oct. 15, at which he helped her receive the endorsement of the liberal group the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.
“Imagine if we had privatized Social Security back in the early part of the last decade when Congress was looking at that. During the financial meltdown, people lost $2 trillion in their retirement,” Shaheen said at the event, according to the Foster’s Daily Democrat newspaper. “Imagine if Social Security had been part of that.”
The Foster’s reporter there, Kimberley Haas, wrote that point from Shaheen “hit home for Burt Cohen, who served in the New Hampshire State Senate from 1990 to 2004, and was at the event.”
“Social Security is highly important,” Cohen said at the event, which he spoke at. “Wall Street would love to have control of that much money.”
“Cohen said Republicans spread misinformation about Social Security because they want to tax and destroy the program,” Haas wrote, adding: “Shaheen agreed with Cohen.”
“There are some people, and I am not one of them, that want to support Wall Street,” Shaheen said.
According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records, Shaheen has also accepted $750 from Cohen over the course of two donations in 2013 and 2014.
Shaheen’s spokesmen Harrell Kirstein and Shripal Shah have not responded to multiple requests for comment on whether the Senator will denounce this behavior or return the donations.
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