‘Disgraced’ State Lawmaker hurls ugly accusations against colleague on his way out

"Disgraced" ex-Rep. Ross Berry (right) has lodged shocking accusations against former colleague State Senator Donovan Fenton (left) amid a conservative media tour to clean up a messy exit from the New Hamshire State House. (Twitter)

By Colin Booth

May 22, 2024

Former State Representative Ross Berry, who resigned from his seat after being removed as Chair of the New Hampshire House Election Law committee, hurled some dark, unfounded accusations against State Senator Donovan Fenton (D-Keene) on his way out the door last week.

Speaking on a conservative podcast, Berry defended the recently passed HB 1205, an anti-LGBTQ bill passed by State Senate Republicans that would bar transgender girls in grades five through 12 from participating in girls’ sports in public school. Responding to concerns Senator Fenton voiced over language in the bill which requires all female athletes in the state to submit a birth certificate or “other evidence” for eligibility, Berry said “It seems like Senator Fenton is really obsessed with looking at kids.”

Fenton’s full testimony on the bill gives voice to those concerns.

“So potentially, under this language, a school may require all participating students to produce a proof documentation of their gender or submit the other evidence and what would seem that other evidence may require genital inspections of all girls, not just transgender girls. Who would perform these inspections?” Sen. Fenton said in testimony on HB 1205. “Are we asking male coaches to check the genitals of a 10-year-old girl? Would parents be allowed to be present for these inspections? Or would administrators be going to students directly and asking them in private to pull down their pants?”

Organizations like GLAD have said the language in HB 1205 could be construed to include genital inspections of children, as similar Republican anti-trans bills have in other states.

RELATED: NH House election law chair resigns following scheme to trick Democratic lawmakers on vote

Republicans in states like Ohio, Kansas, and New Jersey have put forward bills similar to HB 1205 with similarly vague language about the need for evidence of gender in school sports. Those bills either explicitly or implicitly state the need for genital exams.

In Ohio, Republicans were forced to remove language requiring genital inspections from their anti-trans bill after resounding backlash. Experts say the vague language in the New Hampshire GOP’s bill leaves the door open to such inspections.

If signed into law the legislation would make New Hampshire the first state in the northeast to enshrine discrimination against trans youth into law at a statewide level.

The unfounded allegations against Fenton are particularly jarring given that there are currently two sitting Republican legislators in the New Hampshire State House that have credible allegations of having developed relationships with minors.

One of them is State Senator Howard Pearl, who was arrested in 2014 on charges that he sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl at his house on his 48th birthday, with the Union Leader reporting that “Pearl placed his hand inside the underwear of the 15-year-old and fondled her buttocks, conduct that can be ‘reasonably construed as being for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification.’”

The charges against Pearl were reportedly dropped on a technicality — not due to the merits of the case.

The other is State Representative Jon Stone in the House, who was just recently revealed to have lost his career as a New Hampshire law enforcement officer after a relationship with a 15-year-old girl — part of an explosive report that includes charges he threated to rape his police chief’s daughter.

Berry has never spoken out against these lawmakers.

Reached for comment, Fenton brushed off the evidence-free allegation, saying it seemed like Berry was hitting rock button.

“I don’t believe in punching down. I think his actions in committee — and the fact that he’s no longer leading a House committee or serving as a lawmaker — speaks for itself,” Fenton said.

Author

  • Colin Booth

    Based in Epsom, Colin Booth is Granite Post's political correspondent. A Granite State native and veteran political professional with a deep background in journalism, he's worked on campaigns and programs in battleground states across the country, ranging from New Hampshire, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

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