A New Hampshire legislator at the center of a controversy over his role in creating an incendiary online forum in which rape was described as not “an absolute bad” resigned from office on Wednesday.
Robert Fisher’s resignation came just hours after a legislative committee looking into the issue recommended that the Republican state representative from Laconia face no sanctions, largely because his online behavior took place before he was elected to office last November.
In a written statement to WMUR, Fisher said he was resigning out of concern for the safety of himself, his girlfriend, and his family.
“I’m happy that the House committee stood firm for free speech today,” he said in a statement. “It is with a heavy heart that I will be unable to complete my term.”
Three weeks ago The Daily Beast website reported that Fisher had created a forum called “The Red Pill” on the social network Reddit. The Daily Beast tracked him down by linking a number of accounts he created.
Among the statements attributed to Fisher, 31, was a post that said: “Don’t get me wrong, I think women are capable. My sisters, and my mother are very smart individuals. But a majority of women never developed these traits, and they don’t need to.
“I don’t hate women. I just understand what use they are to me,” the post continued. “Stimulating conversation is not one of them.”
Fisher said many of the statements attributed to him were largely taken out of context.
Immediately after the story broke, Republican Governor Chris Sununu and Republican House Speaker Shawn Jasper recommended that he resign. But Fisher initially refused, and a legislative committee was formed to hear testimony and recommend whether he should be censured, suspended, or expelled from the 400-member House.
On Wednesday morning before the vote, members of UltraViolet, a national women’s advocacy organization, joined local activists for a rally outside the State House, urging lawmakers to expel Fisher.
“Robert Fisher is a rape promoter who has no place serving in government,” said Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet, in a statement.
When the committee voted 8-6 to take no action, there were cries of “shame” from the audience.
Jasper said he was pleased with Fisher’s decision to step down. “I welcome his resignation for the good of the institution, and I hope that we can now move forward with our important legislative agenda,” he said in a statement.
State Democrats also welcomed the news. “As the first to denounce Rep. Fisher’s actions and call on his resignation after The Daily Beast unmasking, we are relieved to hear he is resigning effective immediately,” said party chairman Ray Buckley. “His resignation is an admission of guilt that House Republicans unfortunately refused to acknowledge in today’s Legislative Administration Committee decision to take ‘no action.’ Hopefully his resignation will make it clear to those defending his actions that misogyny and degradation of women is not acceptable in New Hampshire.”
James Pindell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics: http://pages.e-mail.bostonglobe.com/GroundGameSignUp.