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Calls for state rep. to resign grow after 'Red Pill' revelations

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 26. 2017 8:22PM

CONCORD — A Republican state representative from Belknap County accused of posting offensive and misogynistic comments in the online forum “The Red Pill” is refusing to “disappear,” despite calls by top GOP and state officials — including Gov. Chris Sununu — for him to resign.

A link between state Rep. Robert Fisher, R-Laconia, and “The Red Pill” was first reported Tuesday by the Daily Beast. The Red Pill is part of the Reddit website and currently claims 200,000 subscribers; much of its discussion centers around how feminism is actually an effort aimed at oppressing men.

The Daily Beast reports in 2008 Fisher openly questioned whether “rape is bad,” writing “I’m going to say it — Rape isn’t an absolute bad, because the rapist I think probably likes it a lot. I think he’d say it’s quite good, really.”

In a statement sent to the New Hampshire Union Leader Tuesday Fisher characterized this as a “gross misquote,” taken out of the context from a “debate about the failings of moral relativism nearly a decade ago.”

“Representative Fisher’s comments are horrendous and repulsive and his resignation is certainly in order,” Gov. Sununu, R-Newfields, said Wednesday.

Fisher, 31, did not immediately return calls and emails on Wednesday from New Hampshire Union Leader reporters asking if he will consider stepping down.

Sununu echoed comments made Tuesday night by House Speaker Shawn Jasper that Fisher, a two-term legislator, should step down of his own accord. The Speaker cannot oust a member, but he can pursue censure in the House.

House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, said while Fisher should step aside, he found the postings “extremely troubling” though not amounting to illegal behavior.

“I would much prefer that Rep. Fisher resign, but unlike other controversies we have had, none of this appears to violate any laws. I’m not in any position to demand that he leave,” Jasper said.

Jasper said he would hope Fisher would realize his behavior warrants his departure.

“If it comes to this, I would hope that voters in his district would do the right thing and not return him to Concord but in the meantime, he should realize that he’s really put the New Hampshire House in an awful light,” Jasper said. “The only decent thing he could do now would be to resign.”

On Wednesday residents of Laconia and Belmont, both of which Fisher represents in the House, said they were “stunned” by the Daily Beast report.

“I know I am certainly very disappointed in the things that have been posted,” said Belknap County Republican Committee Chairman Alan Glassman.

“It would be best if he resigned, but that’s up to him. And it’s up to the voters if he decides not to resign.”

Fisher defeated incumbent Beth Arsenault, running as a Republican in 2014 by 276 votes, after being unsuccessful in his bid for a House seat in Laconia, in 2012, when he ran as a Democrat.

The two candidates faced off again in 2016, and Fisher was reelected, besting Arsenault by 700 votes.

In Laconia, voters cast 3,800 ballots for Fisher and 3,602 for Arsenault. In Belmont, Fisher outdistanced his opponent by a vote of 1,900 to 1,398.

The Belknap County website lists Fisher as being assigned to the delegation’s Outside Agencies Committee. In Concord, he requested that he not be given a committee assignment. He has cast 54 roll call votes in the House since Jan. 1, has been excused from voting 44 times and 14 times was not excused for his failure to vote.

“I was just stunned to read what he apparently thinks of women,” said Kate Scribner of Laconia, when approached by a reporter outside the city’s post office. “If he doesn’t step down I think he’ll get voted out.”

State GOP Chair Jeanie Forrester on Wednesday joined the growing chorus of Republicans calling on Fisher to step down.

“I echo Gov. Sununu’s call for Rep. Fisher to resign; his comments are offensive, and the fact that he made them under the shadow of Internet anonymity tells you he knows they are offensive,” said Forrester in a statement.

Former state Rep. Joe Sweeney, a Salem Republican and head of the Young Republicans, said Fisher should take responsibility for his actions and words.

“Any representative, regardless of party, should resign when such egregious and disturbing comments are made,” Sweeney said in a statement. “Normalizing rape or purporting disturbing social theories is unacceptable behavior for anyone, especially a member of the state Legislature.”

The Daily Beast article traces the Red Pill back to Fisher, 31, through his alleged use of several online identities. According to the article, when Fisher was contacted by the Daily Beast about his connections to the Red Pill, he denied involvement, though all of the accounts researched and cited by the reporters disappeared.

In a statement to the Union Leader on Tuesday Fisher did not deny the connection, but he accused the Daily Beast of taking quotes out of context from years-old online discussions. In the statement, he suggested that he was a victim of a false rape accusation when he was in his early 20s.

“These are despicable comments,” said former state GOP Chair Jennifer Horn. “Rep. Fisher’s attempts to cast himself as the victim is beyond the pale. Having a state representative who actively advocates violence against women is an embarassment to our state and contributes to a society that minmizes sexual assault and makes it more difficult for women to report these crimes and seek justice. This is not about free speech, partisan ideology, or anything else. This is about violence that primarily victimizes women and it has to stop.”

Late Wednesday night, the New Hampshire Young Republicans' Executive Board also called for Fisher's resignation. After pointing out, "Representative Fisher has been a State Representative since 2014, after first running in 2012 as a Democrat in an election that resulted in his defeat," they added the following comment:

“Representative Robert Fisher’s comments are disturbing and do not represent the values of the Republican Party, the Republican Platform, or the New Hampshire Young Republicans. Representative Fisher should immediately apologize for all of his lewd and improper statements, and resign his position as a New Hampshire State Representative. The work and leadership Republican state legislators and our Governor are making on sexual assault prevention and fighting domestic violence does not deserve to be overshadowed by one Representative’s inappropriate comments.”

New Hampshire Union Leader staff reporter Dan Tuohy and correspondent Bea Lewis contributed to this report.

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