Democrats in New Hampshire are charging that the credibility of the state's legislature is on the line after a top Republican spread coronavirus vaccine misinformation during a public hearing.
"A routine hearing in the State House turned confrontational last week when the state's health commissioner called out a top Republican lawmaker, Rep. Ken Weyler, for spreading disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine. The exchange — between Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette and Rep. Weyler, chair of the House Finance Committee — highlights a conspiracy-driven ideology tied to the pandemic that's on the rise in state Republican politics," New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) reported on Thursday.
The health commissioner noted that 90% of coronavirus hospitalizations are among the unvaccinated, but the Republican lawmaker claimed that number is "in doubt" and argued that the inverse was actually true and people he had spoken to said "90% of those admitted had the shot."
Weyler's false claims were quickly debunked, but that did not stop him.
"Speaking to NHPR Tuesday morning, Weyler was unapologetic and unstinting in his criticism — much of it not founded in data or science — about the efficacy and safety of COVID vaccines and government's role in getting it to people," the station reported. "Weyler, who's about to turn 80 years old, also noted that he's not been vaccinated for COVID."
In response, New Hampshire House Democrats wrote to Republican Speaker Sherman Parkard, urging him to remove Weyler as the chairman of the Joint Fiscal Committee.
"The Fiscal Committee cannot be responsibly led by someone who does not trust state agencies and bases his decision making on information he obtains from unidentified internet sites. Most concerning is that Representative Weyler continued to spread misinformation about DHHS and the COVID vaccine after Speaker Packard reminded him of 'the importance of respecting information provided by our trusted health officials," House Democratic Leader Renny Cushing said in a statement.
"Allowing Representative Weyler to continue in his leadership position would be tacit acknowledgement that the Speaker agrees with his baseless assertions. I strongly encourage Speaker Packard to take swift, decisive action to remove Representative Weyler as Chair and restore the legislature's credibility," Cushing said.