FREEDOM — A local state representative says although he didn't realize state Democrats were naming him as a team member of a Democratic group tasked with "detecting lies" of Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, he's not shy about fact checking.
On Tuesday morning, the N.H. Democratic Party issued a press release trumpeting the creation of the "Sununu Lie Detector Team," which it said would be "a new effort to hold Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu accountable for his dishonest attempts to conceal his Trumpian agenda. The members of the Sununu Lie Detector Team hail from all corners of the state and come from all walks of life."
The press release charges that Sununu "said he supports paid family and medical leave but mocked the policy and vetoed it twice and when a universal background check bill for gun buyers came across his desk, he vetoed it despite previously claiming he supported the policy."
Sununu is being challenged by Democrat Dan Feltes of Concord, majority leader of the N.H. Senate, during the general election Nov. 3.
The press release names Jerry Knirk (D-Freedom) as a member of the Lie Detector Team.
Knirk is serving his second term in the House, representing Albany, Freedom, Madison, and Tamworth. Knirk worked as a orthopedic spine surgeon from 1984-2007 and worked at the Saco River Medical Group in Conway as a physician from 2007-15.
Knirk said he was asked to "help out" the Democrats back in August but hadn't heard anything about what he is supposed to do.
Knirk said he didn't respond respond via email to the Democrats' request in August. He said he didn't get the press release about the lie-detector squad until the Sun sent it to him.
"It is possible that they might have followed up with a telephone call and I may have said 'yes,' but I do not recall," said Knirk.
"I am always comfortable challenging anyone if they have misrepresented the facts, as I have done several times in my (Sun) column."
The Sun asked Sununu's campaign spokesman what he makes of the announcement of a lie-detecting team.
"Just to be clear: The Democrats could only find one person in the entirety of Carroll County to participate in this pitiful, desperate effort by a sad group of people who have spent years falsely attacking Chris Sununu with no success," said Sununu campaign spokesman Ben Vihstadt.
"Democrat, Republican and independent voters continue to give Chris Sununu high marks in his job approval rating as governor — with the latest poll showing 70 percent of Granite Staters approve of the job Chris Sununu is doing."
As part of the lie-detecting team, if the Democrats flag an issue, Knirk said he will look into the situation and make up his own mind as to whether the statement in question is or is not factual.
"I will not parrot information sent to me without fact-checking it myself," said Knirk, stressing he would be fair-minded. "If somebody makes an accusation and it's not accurate, I will not jump on the bandwagon."
N.H. Democrats' press secretary, Michael Beyer, said Knirk agreed by phone about a month ago and confirmed his interest again on Tuesday
"We are excited to have him," said Beyer.
Carroll County Democrats chairman Knute Ogren of Effingham, who is running for a House seat, said Knirk is a "good match" for the team.
"Jerry is excellent at finding the truth and shedding light on the known and knowable and dismissing the bunk that seems to arise in the public discourse," said Ogren.
Other Democratic members of the Lie Detector Team listed in the press release are: Rep. Wendy Thomas of Merrimack, Matt Mooshian of Claremont, Sean Doyle of Manchester, Colin Pio of Manchester, Rep. Josh Query of Manchester, Larry Drake of Portsmouth, Rep. David Meuse of Portsmouth, former Speaker of the House Terrie Norelli of Portsmouth, Naomi Andrews of Epping, Charlie Cotton, Lancaster, Rep. Kris Schultz of Concord, Rep. Safiya Wazir of Concord, Crystal Paradis of Somersworth, Tanner Bielefeld-Pruitt of Hanover, Ally Tannenbaum of Hanover, Madeleine Bernardeau of Hanover, Miles Brown of Hanover, Jack Poss of Hanover, Hillary Ballantine of Keene, Sen. Cindy Rosenwald of Nashua, Rep. Manny Espitia of Nashua, Joseph Feole of Salem and Judy Carr of Hollis.