- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 16, 2020

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The New Hampshire House Rules Committee on Wednesday blocked the introduction of late legislation targeting a newly elected Republican lawmaker who recently shared content from a neo-Nazi website on social media.

Rep. Dawn Johnson, of Laconia, last week posted a link on Twitter to a Daily Stormer article that many Democrats and Republican Gov. Chris Sununu criticized as racist and anti-Semitic. Without saying whether she agreed with the content of the article, Johnson later apologized and said she removed the link “as it came from a source I do not agree with.”

Critics have called on her to resign from both the Legislature and the Laconia School Board. House Democratic Leader Renny Cushing also tried to address her behavior through the Rules Committee but was unsuccessful in getting permission to introduce his bill. The legislation would have added hate speech, harassment and other behavior to the list of legislative ethics violations.

Cushing, D-Hampton, called Johnson’s post “vile, hurtful and quite frankly dangerous.”

“Until I saw that, I could not believe that type of hate speech directed at a vulnerable population would be engaged in by a member of the Legislature,” he said.

The Republican-led committee voted 5-4 without debate along party lines to deny Cushing’s request.

Johnson did not respond to a request for comment. Her attorney, fellow state Rep. Norm Silber, said in an email that she has no plans to resign but acknowledged she made a mistake by sharing something whose source she was unfamiliar with.

In September, the attorney general’s office investigated another lawmaker’s Facebook post that advocated burning and looting houses displaying Black Lives Matter signs but found it did not violate the state’s Civil Rights Act.

Rep. James Spillpane, R-Deerfield, told investigators he was responding to arguments defending the stealing and property damage that had occurred at the same times as some Black Lives Matter demonstrations and that he intended his post to be a “tongue-in-cheek” attempt at showing the absurdity of condoning violence during demonstrations. Spillane was reelected in November.

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