- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The nominee to lead New Hampshire’s banking commission said Friday his former job representing banks and financial institutions won’t affect his ability to fairly regulate them.

Jerry Little of Weare, is a Republican state senator and former president of the New Hampshire Bankers Association, which includes the industry’s lobbying arm. Gov. Maggie Hassan recently nominated him to serve as banking commissioner, and he spoke about his qualifications before the Executive Council, which must confirm him.

During the hearing, several councilors pressed Little on his ability to regulate the department given his two decades representing the industry. Democratic Councilor Chris Pappas said he’s heard concerns from constituents who are skeptical that Little could be fair and impartial.

Little said he has no more financial or professional ties to the banking industry and said lobbying represents only about 20 percent of the work done by the bankers association. Little said whether serving as town moderator in Weare, as president of the bankers association or as a state senator, he has always put his constituents first, and he assured the council he would make consumer protection his top priority if given the job.

“Once I take the oath of office, I have one responsibility and that’s to the people,” Little said. “That’s the way I behave.”

Several of Little’s colleagues in the Senate, including Democrats, spoke in support of Little’s nomination and defended his integrity.

Democratic Sen. Dan Feltes said he worked with Little on a bill extending the notification period for people facing foreclosures. He called the legislation the “most significant advanced in home owner and consumer protection from foreclosure” in the state in two decades. Feltes also pushed back on the idea that Little’s nomination represents part of a “revolving door.”

“That’s an unfair characterization,” he said.

If the council approves Little’s nomination, his Senate seat will remain vacant until the November election.

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