Mile 11: Anatomy of a Scandal/Disgrace

Ask any Marine Private to state the 14 leadership traits taught in boot camp and he or she will rattle off: Bearing, Courage, Decisiveness, Dependability, Endurance, Enthusiasm, Initiative, Integrity, Judgment, Justice, Knowledge, Loyalty, Tact, and Unselfishness. If you asked any Private to prioritize those traits by importance, I bet “integrity” would be in the top three. I would round it out with “judgment” and “justice”. The average corruption scandal/disgrace in Washington typically involves the lack of at least one of these traits. Yet rather than being held accountable, the players will inevitably lie (integrity), blame someone else (justice), or plead ignorance (judgment). If there is an investigation, it will typically drag on long enough for those involved to make it through the next election cycle at which point most people will have either forgotten, accepted the official version of events, or because corruption scandals/disgraces are so complicated and can’t be summed up in a sound bite, the public won’t understand it or take the time to learn the truth. Investigations will too often whitewash the whole affair or be quashed if the outcome could be too damaging. The pattern has become all too clear.

The corrupt politicians in federal government all got their start somewhere, most at the state and local government level. I believe that if enough people simply demanded accountability and exposed local corruption and incompetence early on, we could dry up this supply of integrity challenged or incompetent people before they get the chance to make it to Washington. Have you ever heard about the Financial Resources Mortgage (FRM) scandal in New Hampshire? Below is an attempt to sum up just a few of the main elements and alert the public on a sudden vote scheduled for Tuesday August 5, 2014 to re-appoint one of the key players. FRM was the biggest financial fraud case and subsequent government cover-up in New Hampshire history, and a classic example of how most government scandals play out. The cover-up of the scandal caused far more financial damage to the victims than the two criminals who are in prison.

When U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen was the Governor of New Hampshire, she appointed Peter Hildreth as the Banking Commissioner out of all the other qualified people in the state who could have done that job. Why? We now know that Hildreth had ties to Scott Farah, President of the mortgage brokerage firm FRM, which his agency regulated. FRM simply matched up borrowers and private lenders. Despite being found insolvent, dozens of registered complaints, over 70 violations of state and federal laws, and efforts from Banking Department employees to shut it down, FRM was allowed to stay in business for years. Why? Nonetheless, FRM maintained an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau because the Banking Department betrayed the public trust by lying to those who asked about the true financial status of FRM. Why?

In the fall of 2009, FRM voluntarily shut its doors after stealing millions of dollars from hundreds of lenders from around the country. The losses were devastating and led to numerous personal bankruptcies, divorces and even two suicides. Former Commissioner Hildreth would later claim that he had “verbally recused” himself from any FRM issues after being told that his brothers were investors in FRM, yet he injected himself on FRM matters more than once, to include showing up at FRM’s offices and removing computers immediately after the collapse. Why? His brothers and others got their money back years earlier, due to money that was stolen from a sister company, CL&M, led by Don Dodge via an illegal twenty million dollar line of credit from Dodge to Farah. CL&M serviced many of the construction loans brokered through FRM. The money was stolen from an escrow account that held those loan funds that hadn’t been dispersed to borrowers yet. CL&M was operating openly across the hall from FRM without a license or bond insurance as required by law. Why? The bond insurance alone would have compensated the victims.

After the collapse, Hildreth claimed that the private loans were now somehow securities or stock in FRM and blamed any lack of government oversight on Mark Connolly, the Director of the NH Bureau of Securities. Why? Richard Head, Director of Consumer Protection at the NH Attorney General’s office, who we now know ignored several criminal complaints about FRM, was tasked to conduct the official investigation. Why? Regarding FRM, the Attorney General’s Office stated publicly that the state, “has not identified anything that would suggest liability, but we are always mindful of that, since one of our responsibilities is to defend the state against such suits.” Therein lies the problem in a nutshell. Can we trust government agencies and bureaucrats to investigate themselves when there is such a blatant conflict of interest? Trust in government is at an all-time low and it’s because the Richard Heads of the world are allowed to investigate themselves or their co-workers with little to no oversight or consequence.

Richard Head whitewashed any of his own shortcomings and doubled down on Hildreth’s claim that legitimate loans were now somehow securities. Why? Connolly would have nothing to do with the “cover up” and later wrote a book by that name, which does an excellent job of illustrating the lengths that government employees went to in order to cover up their betrayal of the public trust. None of us are perfect, but the people that we allow to make, break, and selectively enforce the laws need to be held accountable at every level if we are to instill trust in our government. Hildreth was allowed to retire with full benefits, despite pending charges of negligence and malfeasance, after publicly claiming he had damaging information about Governor John Lynch. Why?

Later, Governor Lynch tried to promote Richard Head by nominating him to be the Deputy Attorney General out of all the other qualified people in the state who could have done that job. Why? The first time, he withdrew the nomination due to a telephone campaign to the Executive Council by some of the FRM victims and concerned citizens. Later, he nominated him again with short notice, but when the victims caught wind of it and mobilized, the nomination was shot down on a close vote. A few years ago, Richard Head, helped U.S. Attorney Eric Holder, investigate Project Veritas which simply exposed how easy it was for dead people to vote in the New Hampshire primaries. Why? You can read about that in James O’keefe’s book “Breakthrough” in the chapter titled, The Rise of Richard Head.

The decision in 2009 by the Attorney General’s office to quickly force FRM into Chapter 7 bankruptcy rather than state receivership where it belonged caused far more financial damage to the victims than what was stolen by Farah and Dodge. Richard Head called that an, “unintended consequence.” This blog is perhaps another one.

Steve Nottinger (New Hampshire 2013 Attorney of the Year. Why?) was appointed as the trustee by a federal bankruptcy court to liquidate the estates of FRM and CL&M both of which had little to no assets at that time. He hired his own small law firm, which included his wife Debbie and partner Jim Donchess, former Mayor of Nashua. Why? Within two weeks of the collapse, in a private meeting with the AG’s office and the Banking Department, the trustee was also quick to jump on the notion that legitimate loans were now somehow securities or stock in FRM. Why? No one from the Securities Bureau was even invited to the meeting. Why?

The trustee immediately seized all of the loans and properties ever brokered through FRM, claiming they were securities and now part of the estate, an estate that he gets 3% of. He also is paid over $300 /hr from the estate to liquidate it. His firm has been paid over two and a half million dollars so far. His “securities” claim was later rejected by the federal bankruptcy court, but by tying victims up in court for years, he received millions in settlement agreements which were arguably made under duress. Why?

To add insult (and theft) to injury, the state filed a claim against the estate for over two hundred thousand dollars (money to come directly from the victims) for a Banking Department audit conducted after the collapse as well as penalties (for the first time) and back taxes. Why? The trustee and judge approved the claim. Why?

The FRM story is just a microcosm of the bigger macrocosm that is our federal government. If people want change in government, then the only hope is to start in our backyards and clean our own houses first. It’s been said that no single raindrop thinks it’s responsible for the flood. The Attorney General during most of this time frame was Kelley Ayotte who managed to get herself elected as New Hampshire’s other Senator before the majority of this information came out. She testified, “I’m a firm believer that the buck stops at my desk. But the buck never made it to my desk.” Why? It always manages to make it into someone’s pocket though.

It has been learned that a vote on Head’s reappointment is scheduled for this Tuesday August 5, 2014. Please contact Governor Maggie Hassan at (603)271-2121 and the Executive Counselors listed below and request that a public hearing be conducted to discuss the above issues in more detail before such an important vote is cast..

The Honorable Joseph Kenney (603) 271-3632
The Honorable Colin Van Ostern (603) 271-3632
The Honorable Christopher Sununu (603) 658-1187
The Honorable Christopher Pappas (603) 2713632
The Honorable Debora Pignatelli (603) 271-3632
For more information:

The vote by the Executive Council on the reappointment of Richard Head was taken off of the agenda by the Governor immediately prior to the meeting. Thank you to all who called or sent emails. I sent the following email to each of the Executive Council members after the meeting:

“…I was at the meeting in the morning and spoke with the Governor. I asked her if it was 1) being postponed in order to have a public hearing first, 2) withdrawn permanently or 3) if it would resurface again. She told me that the AG’s office withdrew it and that it could very well come up again. I asked her that if that were the case, would there be a public hearing before the vote. She said that she didn’t believe that there was a mechanism or need for having a public hearing on a routine re-appointment of a government employee, and went on to tell me that she thought Richard Head was a very good one. That concerns me.

When Governor Lynch nominated him to be the Deputy AG, they scheduled the vote immediately before the Chandler report was to be released, which they knew would be damning. Many of us contacted the Executive Council and asked that they at least wait for the Chandler report. The Governor withdrew the nomination. Weeks later, a rumor went out that it was resubmitted and that there would be a vote the upcoming Wednesday. I talked with a council member the Monday before and was told that it wasn’t even on the agenda. Somehow it ended up on the agenda at the last minute, but he was shot down 3 to 2.
I fear that the same tactic may be used again. I invited Governor Hassan to check out a website that I put up over the weekend and welcomed her input as to why she thinks he is such a very good government employee. I would like to put out the same invitation to all of the Executive Council members. I will gladly post anything that any of you would like to say (completely unedited), either for or against the re-appointment of Mr. Head. Also, I would ask that if his name is resubmitted, that someone could drop me a quick email so that I could attend the meeting. Thank you.
Best Regards,
Pete Martino”






No single raindrop thinks it’s responsible for the flood.



Be careful when you blindly follow the masses. Sometimes the “m” is silent.







Mile 18: I See Something

Homeland Security’s, “See Something, Say Something” campaign motivated me to say something. Since that’s the purpose of this tax payer funded behavior modification program, consider this a rare government success story.

I see a world being led by the least among us, while the best continue to re-arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. The biggest threat facing our country is not terrorism, the debt, drugs, poverty, healthcare, immigration, climate change, abortion, gay rights, racism, school shootings, the militarization of the police, the privatization of the military, or even the wave of biological time bombs walking across our southern border and being escorted to Everytown USA. To anyone looking for a campaign slogan:

“It’s the corruption stupid!”

To the saber rattlers looking for the next wars to fight, might I suggest corruption, abuse of power, and ignorance? Ignorance is fought by simply shining a light on the other two, something our mainstream media has forgotten. Thanks to the internet and the citizen journalist, that darkness is being pierced. How can we even have honest debates about the troubles facing our nation when the people in power control the debate, yet lost their credibility long ago? Where is the moral high ground in a bottomless pit? It can be found in pockets of excellence across the country throughout our government institutions. Honest people who simply give a damn (I refuse to call them “whistleblowers”), saw something and said something at the VA, IRS, DHS and the State Department, yet our “leaders” will expend more resources investigating them or conducting bogus investigations more intent on damage control than holding anyone accountable. The fact that no one from any of these institutions has even been arrested as a result of the corruption and abuse of power that we already know about, is proof alone that the President and the Attorney General belong in jail.

What should we expect when the head of Homeland Security publicly states that he is impressed with the “integrity” of his Chief of Staff, a man who testified against his father-in-law (a state senator who went to prison on 137 corruption charges) to keep from going to prison himself? As the NSA turns the whole planet into “The Truman Show”, we’re told to not be alarmed because federally appointed judges are watching them in secret FISA courts. Hopefully, not someone like Judge Samuel Kent who went to prison on charges he abused his power and lied to cover up sexual assaults on two women who worked for him. He told one of them, “I am the Government. I’m the Lion King. It’s good to be king. I’m the Emperor of Galveston, the man wearing the horned hat, guiding the ship.”

Despite basic human fallibility and corruptibility, we allow our “leaders” to claim more and more authority over our lives. In case you haven’t been paying attention, the President has already claimed and exercised the authority to kill any American citizen, without due process, simply by claiming that he or she is a “terrorist”. If you’re not a terrorist, you’ve got nothing to worry about. But what if the most powerful man in the Senate thinks you are, and says so publicly? I’m sure Cliven Bundy is thankful that Harry Reid isn’t the President. Some of our “leaders” should be more careful about the way they throw around the “T-word” lest they be forced to look in the mirror.

It’s quite possible that any armed revolution that some fear is coming, could be avoided by simply fighting a “cold war” on corruption instead. Unconventional battles could be fought at the water coolers, cubicles and conference rooms of our bureaucracies as well as the courts. The weapons would include emails, memos and other documents. The warriors will be the government employees who stand up because they are inspired by and follow the lofty mission statements that provide the moral guidance for all of their agencies’ actions. One of the most crucial steps in the Military Decision Making Process is “Mission Analysis” and involves taking a very comprehensive look at the mission you’ve been given, in order to ensure that you understand completely what is expected of you and your people. Commanders go to great lengths to make them as clear as possible, so that even an individual separated from the group, and in the absence of any further guidance, will know how best to act in any given situation. A commander will also personally write a “Commander’s Intent” which offers even further clarifying guidance. I challenge every government employee to go and read your organization’s mission statement and then act accordingly. If the mission has changed, then demand a new one be written, and update the website so we can all see what it really is.

If more and more honest people who give a damn banded together and took back our institutions, then our “leaders” would suddenly realize that no one is following, and they would be disarmed of their weapon of power which is WE THE PEOPLE who actually run those institutions and drive those Bearcats.

There, I said something. Now, go get your horned hat and take back the ship.

Pete Martino

Average citizen who gives a damn




Mile 8: The Journey

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

~ Mary Oliver ~


In “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist and holocaust survivor, concluded that our primary motivational force is our search for meaning, purpose, and responsibility. Napoleon Hill, who interviewed and studied over 500 of the most successful people of his day, wrote that the starting point of all achievement is definiteness of purpose. When people have life and the liberty to pursue their unique version of happiness or purpose, they blossom like a flower in the desert, which is the collective force that gave rise to these United States. I believe we’ve lost that somehow, and that as a nation our purpose should be to figure out how to get it back. This is simply one man’s ideas on how to do that.

It sounds counterintuitive, but the essence of The One Man March is that any number of people moving forward following their passion with NONE of them going in the EXACT same direction is the best way to unite us and change the world for the better. We’ve moved so far away from rugged individualism, that today if everyone were jumping off a cliff, most of us would be pushing others out of the way so as not to be last.

Dr. Martin Seligman,, founder of the field of Positive Psychology, clearly defines the main elements of happiness in his book, “Authentic Happiness”: The three main factors which contribute to authentic happiness are 1) positive emotions or feelings that come about as a result of exercising our strengths and virtues 2) experiencing “flow” as a result of taking on difficult challenges that match our skill and ability levels and 3) activities which provide us with a sense of meaning and purpose. If you haven’t figured out what these are for you, then don’t rush off to college just yet and get yourself buried in student loan debt, only to have a midlife crisis thirty years from now upon the realization that you followed the wrong path. Don’t take the road less travelled. March boldly into the wilderness and cut your own trail.

The One Man March involves minimizing the dissonance in our lives, which is the inconsistency between the beliefs one holds or between one’s actions and one’s beliefs; in other words, hypocrisy. It is also the difference between what we are told and what we see with our own eyes. We have a strong internal desire for our thoughts, emotions and behaviors to be in sync with each other. When they are not, we experience cognitive dissonance. It’s not that hard to control someone’s thoughts (don’t think about blood gushing from a whale being harpooned) and hijack their purpose, even though our thoughts are the only thing we have ultimate control over.

Governments, religions, corporations, and others control our thoughts and behaviors through powerful images and narratives that stir our emotions, some of the most effective being guilt, anger, hate, and fear. Positive messages and emotions can stir us to action as well, yet rather than inspiring people to figure out what you can do for yourself, today’s “leaders” boast about what they and your country can do for you; which is nothing without taking from or infringing upon the freedom and rights of others.

The first step in the One Man March is to convert your skills and passions into a personal mission statement and then march forth in that direction.

If you read the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, then I think you would conclude that our country has dissonance. If you read the mission statements of some of our government agencies, then I think you would conclude that many of them have dissonance also. To remove the dissonance, we could rewrite the Constitution and maybe write a Declaration of Dependence to reflect our apathy toward government involvement in every aspect of our lives, or we could change our institutions and laws to reflect the type of free country that we say we are. Another method of eliminating the dissonance and taking back our country and institutions would be to find a government agency whose mission speaks to you, and get a job there. If you’re willing to die for your country, then be willing to go to work for the government for a year instead, and then do everything in your power to eliminate the corruption, fraud, waste, and abuse so that the organization will be in sync with its purpose; or be eliminated altogether because it’s redundant or runs contrary to what’s in the Constitution.

One day, I was walking through the mall with my wife when one of those merchants at a kiosk tried to corner us and said, “Can I ask you a little question?” My wife said, “No, we’re only taking big questions today.” Ironically, the biggest question is also the littlest question. It’s, “Why?” And, we don’t ask it enough. All you have to do is ask it once, and it’s like pulling the thread on a sweater. Why are things done this way? Why did Louisiana get over 4 billion dollars as a result of their senator voting for Obamacare? Why was the company that built the healthcare website chosen? Why did we really go to war in Iraq? Why has no one been held accountable in any of the myriad of scandals we’re faced with today? Why don’t more people stand up and march to the beat of their own drum, rather than being knocked off course with divisive issues fanned by disingenuous politicians distracting us from their own corruption and selling out of the country? Whether you’re working for a government agency, or just interacting with one, get in the habit of questioning things.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them; disagree with them; glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
Steve Jobs, inspired by Jack Kerouac

March forth and conquer!

*The word “man” is employed in its classical meaning here, implying “mankind” as a whole.

2006 Congressional Delegation to Iraq on C-SPAN with Col. Martino