Rep. Fisher

The Ethics Committee in the Iowa House has dismissed a complaint against a Republican legislator over a comment he posted on Facebook.

Representative Dean Fisher of Montour wrote in January that Republicans would prevail in election disputes because “our side has the guns.” Representative Jon Jacobsen of Council Bluffs, a Republican member of the House Ethics Committee, said sanctioning Fisher would set a dangerous precedent.

“I would say it’s always good to err on the side of free speech,” he said. “…I think that the comments in this particular situation were still sufficiently ambiguous…It didn’t seem to rise to the level of any sort of incitement.”

The committee’s vote was unanimous, with all three Republicans and all three Democrats voting to dismiss the complaint against Fisher. One of the Democrats called Fisher’s words “regrettable” and “a shade past” the kind of integrity House of Representatives should exhibit, but she agreed Fisher had the First Amendment right to make the remarks.

Fisher, who has rejected calls from the top Democrat in the House to apologize for his comments, sent a written statement to the committee. Fisher said there is nothing in House Rules or state law that polices speech and Fisher said the complaint was filed by a former opponent for political reasons.