House votes to probe, possibly punish, rep over alleged misogynistic remarks on 'Red Pill'
CONCORD – The state House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to look into controversial online comments made by two state representatives.
Prior to the vote demonstrators held protests outside the Statehouse and later outside Representatives Hall targeting state Rep. Robert Fisher. He’s the Republican lawmaker from Laconia who’s been accused of making offensive and misogynistic comments about women on an on-line forum called “Red Pill” on the Redditt.com website.
Fisher will now testify next Tuesday morning in front of the House Legislative Administration Committee. The next day state Rep. Sherry Frost will also be called to testify in front of the panel, after the full House narrowly voted 182-180 to review and possible take action against the Democrat from Dover over controversial tweets she posted earlier this year.
Her tweets that more terrorism is sparked by “white men who claim Christianity than by Muslims in the country” and that “the people telling me to ‘calm down’ & ‘not take it so hard’ are making me homicidal” sparked outrage by many Republicans.
Both lawmakers voted in favor of the inquiry by the committee.
Fisher told NH1 News and WMUR that “I’m confident the matter will be settled next week.”
Frost told NH1 News and the AP that “I have nothing to hide. I’m not concerned about being investigated. Everything I’ve ever said is still out there. I don’t delete anything.”
Fisher’s ignored calls by fellow Republicans, including Gov. Chris Sununu, House Speaker Shawn Jasper, and NHGOP Chair Jeanie Forrester, to resign. In a statement last week in the Laconia Sun, Fisher said that the posts he made, which date back to 2008, were taken out of context. A report on the comments last week by national news site The Daily Beast put Fisher in the spotlight.
House Majority Leader Dick Hinch, who chairs the Legislative Administration Committee, said after the full House vote that his panel “will make a report to the House on June 1st. Whether the committee found merits of either or both of the allegations.”
Hinch added that the options the committee can recommend are “no finding, and go up the line from there to reprimand, censure, and expulsion.”
But the panel’s hearing will only cover comments Fisher’s made this term. That means many of his online comments about women's intelligence and whether men should videotape sexual encounters won't be included in the inquiry.
House Speaker Shawn Jasper told reporters “when it comes to Fisher we’ll be focused just on the statements he’s made since” the start of this session. “We’re not going to go back and look at what he said eight or nine years ago.”
“I think there were some things that were said in there that were troubling, but not sure that rises to a level of doing anything except to his constituency saying ‘look at who you’re electing.’ More of a concern to them (Fisher’s constituents) should be that they lack representation here because he refused to be on a committee and has about a 50% voting record in the House. So why would you elect somebody and then re-elect them that doesn’t want to do about three-quarters of the job?” Jasper added.
Jasper admitted that the move to have the two lawmakers testify in front of the Legislative Administrative Committee was unusual.
“It is,” the Speaker said. “I don’t think we’ve ever done anything quite like this because this normally something that we’d call into the ethics guideline. There would be a complaint made by somebody and it would go to the Ethics Committee. This is unusual. I don’t believe that there’s anything in the ethics guidelines that the two have violated and had we believe that, that would have been the choice we would have chosen. But certainly there’s been a lot of public outrage over the remarks that have been made, and we’ll see where it goes.”
Cilley: “You can’t take quotes such as ‘well rape isn’t entirely bad. The rapist enjoys it’ out of context”
There was also outrage by Democrats that Frost was lumped in with Fisher.
“Representative Frost’s comments were made weeks ago. If those comments rose to the level that the House believed that action should be taken, that should have been close to the time that this had happened,” Democratic Rep. Jackie Cilley of Barrington told NH1 News.
“Instead we now have a lawmaker who is essentially said that laws on the books, he’s questioning them. When he says ‘rape is good for the rapist,’ I mean that’s a whole different phenomenon that somebody using potentially injudicious words. This is netting a Democrat to make sure that the rhetoric is ‘well we’ve got two now that we’re investigating.’ It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Cilley added.
“When it gets to the committee there are going to be a whole lot of folks that represent Rep. Frost that will be there that day and I’ll be one of them,” Cilley continued.
And Cilley also said “I think Rep. Fisher should do the right thing and resign. And if he doesn’t resign on his own, I think he should be removed.”
She disagreed with Fisher’s comments that he was taken out of context.
“You can’t take quotes such as ‘well rape isn’t entirely bad. The rapist enjoys it.’ There’s no way to take that out of context,” Cilley charged.
Republican Rep. Al Baldasaro of Londonderry voted against the push to take action
“I actually voted against the action today and the reason why I did it. I was on the fence. I was going to support it but then when Rep. Kurk got up and talked about freedom of speech, he reminded me about the oath that we’ve taken here. And freedom of speech is one of the things,” Baldasaro explained to NH1 News.
But he also took a shot at state Democrats, saying “everytime a Republican sneezes the wrong way, the Democrats are on it. It’s gotta stop.”
State Rep. Robert Fisher of Laconia outside Representatives Hall, on May 4, 2017
State Rep. Sherry Frost of Dover outside of Representatives Hall, on May 4, 2017