BENNINGTON — Attorney General TJ Donovan has opened an investigation into online threats that played a role in the decision of state Rep. Kiah Morris, D-Bennington, to end her campaign for a third House term.
Morris, who is African-American, bowed out of the race on Friday, the deadline to allow local Democrats to choose a new candidate in the Bennington 2-2 House district race for the Nov. 6 ballot.
She has cited online threats and race-related harassment over the past two years and also has told friends about health concerns as her husband, James Lawton, is facing possible major surgery.
According to a release issued late Monday afternoon, the attorney general “opened an active, ongoing investigation into complaints of online threats made against state Representative Kiah Morris. The Attorney General’s Office will work with the Vermont State Police and appropriate computer forensic experts to ensure a thorough and complete investigation of this matter.”
Donovan did not elaborate on the reasons for opening the investigation.
Bennington lawmakers on Monday said they had earlier contacted Donovan to decry the circumstances leading to Morris’ withdrawal and had called for further investigations. The statement was signed by Sens. Dick Sears and Brian Campion and Reps. Timothy Corcoran and Mary Morrissey, all of Bennington.
The lawmakers said they would ask Donovan and Bennington Town Manager Stuart Hurd, who oversees the Bennington Police Department, to “investigate the entire matter to determine whether laws were broken; and if so, determine why they were not enforced. With a report back as soon as practicable.”