BRENTWOOD — A hearing scheduled to decide the fate of Salem Selectman Stephen Campbell was canceled Wednesday after a series of closed-door conversations.
Campbell left Rockingham Superior Court with his lawyer, who declined to comment on why the hearing did not occur.
On March 29, Salem selectmen voted 4-1 to ask the court to remove Campbell from the board.
Earlier that month, Robert Morin, a police captain and head of the Salem Public Administrators Association, accused Campbell of violating state public record laws by bringing information about the internal investigation of a former police employee to The Eagle-Tribune in 2014.
Though he was not named in Morin’s complaint, former Deputy Police Chief Shawn Patten is at the center of the dispute.
A former Police Department employee, Steve Malisos, sent a letter to the town manager in October 2014, accusing Patten of falsifying records and theft, according to selectmen’s complaint against Campbell. Patten was eventually cleared through an internal investigation and by the attorney general’s office.
The official complaint filed against Campbell also mentioned an incident from February 2015, when Campbell posted comments about Salem Police Chief Paul Donovan’s suspension on his Facebook page.
The suspension had previously been kept from the public as a private personnel matter. The board voted to “condemn” Campbell’s actions in 2015 but did not take the matter to court.
Campbell did not deny either accusation but denied any wrongdoing. He said that he received information about a town employee through a right-to-know law request years ago and believed this information fell under the same rules for public access, rendering it not confidential.
Town Manager Leon Goodwin and Board of Selectmen Chairman James Keller said they could not comment on why the hearing did not take place, or whether this marked the end of the effort to remove Campbell from office.
“We were prepared up until the last minute to have a hearing,” Goodwin said.
He declined to comment on which side of the legal battle approached the other prior to the hearing.
Keller said Campbell is still a selectman.
Campbell did not return requests for comment.
Morin, the police captain who made the initial complaint about Campbell to selectmen, said he didn’t know why the hearing was cancelled but that he “would imagine” both sides of the issue are “coming to a resolution.”
“I think that the law and the violation is clear...and I think the remedy for that is to remove him from office,” Morin said. “Do I think that Stephen Campbell is going to terrorize Salem anymore? Nah, I think he’s done. I think he’s done, and even if he survived this, he’d be done at the polls in March.
“I, as a taxpayer in Salem, am disgusted that he didn’t resign when he had the opportunity to and save us all the aggravation.”