Red Pill founder Fisher resigns from House amid calls for perjury investigation

  • New Hampshire state Rep. Robert Fisher speaks to media after he left a public hearing at the Legislative Office Building, Tuesday, May 9, 2017, in Concord, N.H., at which he defended himself on alleged comments he made online about filming sexual encounters with women and degrading their intelligence. Fisher says his comments have been taken out of context. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • Rep. Sherry Frost speaks to the legislative hearing Wednesday as her lawyer Paul Twomey of Chichester listens. Frost refused to be sworn in and just gave a statement.

  • Rep. Robert Fisher R-Laconia gets sworn in before his testimony at the Legislative Office Building on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 in Concord.

Monitor staff
Published: 5/17/2017 12:46:31 PM

New Hampshire state Rep. Robert Fisher resigned on Wednesday, a few hours after a House committee narrowly voted to recommend no disciplinary action against him for his involvement in a misogynistic online forum.

The abrupt resignation came amid calls for the state attorney general’s office to investigate Fisher for possible perjury after he said under oath last week he is no longer involved in the Reddit forum known as “The Red Pill.”

Republican leaders, including House Speaker Shawn Jasper and Gov. Chris Sununu, called for Fisher to step down after the Daily Beast reported that Fisher founded the Red Pill and commented that women have “sub-par intelligence” and that he had video-taped sexual encounters to guard himself against fake allegations of rape.

Fisher, a Laconia Republican, initially resisted, saying his comments were taken out of context and that he would continue to “stand strong for men’s rights and the rights of all.”

“I never taped a sexual encounter, though I have often considered that it may be the best, or only, form of protection for men to prevent false rape accusations,” he said in a letter to the Laconia Daily Sun.

Fisher explained his resignation Wednesday afternoon, without apology.

“Unfortunately, the falsehoods, lies and comments of an overzealous blogger and some of my colleagues have created a situation where I must genuinely consider the safety and well-being of my girlfriend, my family, and myself,” he said in an email. “It is with a heavy heart that I will be unable to complete my term.”

House reaction

Jasper said Fisher had informed the House clerk of his resignation, effective Wednesday.

“It is unfortunate that the debate surrounding his actions while serving in the House has detracted from the good things that we have accomplished this session,” Jasper said. “But I welcome his resignation for the good of the institution and I hope that we can now move forward with our important legislative agenda.”

House Minority Leader Steve Shurtleff, a Democrat from Penacook, said Fisher’s resignation was the result he was hoping for.

“I’m very glad for the House. I’m glad he is no longer a member, based on the comments of The Red Pill,” Shurtleff said.

Shurtleff was preparing to formally request that the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office investigate whether Fisher committed perjury last week when he testified under oath that he was no longer involved with The Red Pill.

Now, Shurtleff said, that investigation is no longer necessary.

“Since he’s resigned, that’s what we were looking for,” he said. “It was the right decision for him to make.”

Tense committee hearing

Earlier Wednesday, audience members stood up and chanted “shame” as the House Legislative Administration Committee narrowly voted to recommend no disciplinary action be taken against Fisher or Democratic Rep. Sherry Frost, who was added to the House inquiry over her controversial social media posts.

Frost, a Democrat from Dover, came under fire after she sent tweets that included profanity, characterizations of terrorists as “usually white, Christian men” and comments that men “telling me to ‘calm down’ & ‘not take it hard’ are making me homicidal.”

The committee voted 8-6 to take no action against either legislator, because there is no provision in House rules establishing a code of conduct for its members.

Rep. Sherman Packard, who introduced the motion, said “I do not believe the committee can recommend discipline of the two members, based solely on the constitutionally protected right of free speech.”

Fisher later commended the vote, saying he was “happy that the House committee stood firm for free speech today.”

At back-to-back hearings for each representative last week, committee leaders had repeatedly asked to not lump Fisher and Frost’s cases together. But that’s exactly what happened when it came time to make a decision on whether or not to discipline them.

Despite objections, Chairman and Majority Leader Dick Hinch said members would take the same actions on both Frost and Fisher at the same time, with only one report being drafted after the vote.

“The speaker and the House gave us one charge and one charge only,” Hinch said during the committee meeting. “This is not divisible.”

Shurtleff, the committee’s vice-chairman, disagreed vehemently.

“To lump them together and say this body must vote up or down is unfair and goes against the grain of what New Hampshire stands for,” Shurtleff said.

In a meeting with reporters, Hinch said he personally believes Fisher’s conduct was more serious.

“There’s no question in my mind that the comments made in the past by Rep. Fisher rise to a much higher level than the comments that happened during this time period for Rep. Frost,” he said. “No daylight there whatsoever.”

Hinch added he will soon establish a bipartisan subcommittee tasked with creating a code of conduct for representatives.

“We absolutely have to show that we are dismayed by the behavior, we don’t accept the behavior,” he said.

New allegations

Rep. Tim Smith, a Democrat from Manchester, brought forward new allegations Wednesday that Fisher was still involved with the forum, despite Fisher’s denials. Similar claims were reported by the Daily Beast last week.

Smith, an IT professional, said he had investigated the new moderator of the Red Pill forum, a person who posts under the name “redpillschool,” and traced that account back to Fisher’s personal email address and other website domains owned by him.

“Mr. Fisher made very little effort to cover up his tracks ... all he’s done is taken off his nametag,” Smith said. “It’s clearly the same person. All of the technical information points to that conclusion.”

Smith emailed pages of his findings to Hinch and other members of the committee Tuesday, but Hinch – wary of opening attachments and potentially getting a computer virus – said he didn’t open the email.

“Quite honestly, I wish that information had come forward to the committee as part of a public hearing, versus at the 11th hour,” Hinch told reporters. “If that information was available and he was testifying, it would have been better to do a recusal.”

Shurtleff and other Democrats on the committee were informed they would not be able to write a minority report objecting to the committee’s lack of action on Fisher and Frost.

“If there’s a minority on the vote, there needs to be a minority report,” Smith said.

Rep. Allison Nutting, a committee member, said she was disappointed with the vote Wednesday but not surprised.

“I think on the whole, it sends a message that some people in this body don’t respect women,” she said. “I think it is a big thing in this State House. It is a culture that tolerates actions against women.”

Nutting, a Democrat from Nashua, said her goal is to encourage more women to run for office to try to change the culture at the State House.

“The only thing we can do is run for office and replace those who don’t represent our feelings,” she said.

(Ella Nilsen can be reached at 369-3322, or on Twitter @ella_nilsen.)

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