GOFFSTOWN, N.H. (WPRI) — Police arrested a Smithfield man Wednesday in New Hampshire after he reportedly approached a U.S. Senate candidate ahead of a political debate, according to authorities.
Joseph Hart, 37, was apprehended outside St. Anselm College’s Institute of Politics, where dozens of supporters for both Democrat incumbent Maggie Hassan and Republican challenger Don Bolduc were gathered prior to the debate.
Police said St. Anselm staff told officers that Hart was “no longer welcome” on campus just moments before he approached Bolduc, who was greeting his supporters. It’s unclear why Hart was no longer allowed on campus.
Officers immediately separated Hart and Bolduc, according to police. Hart was then taken into custody and charged with criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct.
Hassan addressed the confrontation on social media Thursday, linking it to the Libertarian Party and calling it “despicable.”
The Libertarian Party of New Hampshire fired back with footage of the supposed confrontation, which shows Hart walking up to Bolduc carrying a phone attached to a selfie stick.
Police have not identified Hart as a member of the Libertarian Party.
In the video, Bolduc is seen motioning for assistance after Hart approached him. Once the officers separated the two, Bolduc can be heard saying “he hit me.”
The video itself doesn’t show Hart hitting Bolduc. The Libertarian Party went on to accuse the political candidate of fabricating the attack.
12 News reached out to Bolduc’s campaign regarding the incident but has not yet heard back.
Hart was released on personal recognizance and is scheduled to be formally arraigned on Dec. 1.
The incident remains under investigation. Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Goffstown Police Detective Sgt. Kevin Laroche at (603) 497-4858.