- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 20, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Republican House Speaker Shawn Jasper named a representative who was once convicted of misdemeanor simple assault as vice chairman of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.

Republican Rep. Frank Sapareto was convicted of simple assault in 2013 stemming from a 2012 incident in which he pushed his girlfriend’s daughter, according to court filings. He did not serve jail time.

The criminal justice committee deals with bills around sentencing, penalties and changes to New Hampshire’s criminal statutes. It’s not the first time committee members have had dealings with the law. Jasper removed former Republican Rep. Max Abramson from the same committee in 2015 after learning he had been convicted in 2012 of a felony for reckless conduct related to a gun.

Sapareto challenged Jasper for the speakership earlier this year, although he only won three of more than 200 votes. Jasper said he promised Sapareto the committee post in order to win his support before the second round of voting. Jasper said he didn’t remember Sapareto’s conviction at the time and now must honor his word. He said he believes Sapareto will not use the committee to advance his personal agenda.

Sapareto has previously sponsored legislation to change the simple assault laws so that any fight entered into by “mutual consent” would only be a violation, not a misdemeanor. That bill failed to pass the Legislature.

He said he wants to be on the committee to help eliminate waste in the criminal justice and law enforcement systems. He said he doesn’t plan to introduce another bill to change the simple assault law but expects others will.

Jasper on Tuesday also named state representatives to a variety of other committee posts.

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