Sununu says Weyler should resign as fiscal chair after spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccine safety

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Oct. 6—Gov. Chris Sununu has called for removing longtime state Rep. Kenneth Weyler as chairman of the powerful Legislative Fiscal Committee for spreading misinformation about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Weyler, a 17-term Republican, has doubled down in response to criticism about his past vaccine comments in recent days, distributing a report this week containing conspiracy theories including that the vaccine contained octopus-like creatures and that vaccinated parents were having babies with "pitch black" eyes and premature aging.

"That type of misinformation is dangerous," Sununu said.

Earlier this month, Weyler falsely claimed 90% of those in the hospital with COVID-19 were vaccinated when more than 90% of those hospitalized with the vaccine had not gotten the shot.

In response to this latest controversy, House Speaker Sherman Packard, R-Londonderry, defended Weyler for merely sharing information with committee members.

"It is not uncommon, whether one agrees or disagrees with the content, for a committee chair to share constituent information with committee members," Packard said in the statement.

"I have repeatedly expressed directly to Speaker Packard about the need to remove Representative Weyler from this position of leadership, and these latest absurd emails have accelerated the urgency that the Speaker needs to take action," Sununu said.

"Disseminating this misinformation clearly shows a detachment from reality and lack of judgment."

The New Hampshire Democratic Party started a petition last week, calling for Weyler's removal both as chairman of this House-Senate budget oversight committee as well as his chairmanship of the House Finance Committee.

House Democratic Leader Renny Cushing of Hampton and ex-Finance Chairman Mary Jane Wallner, D-Concord, said Weyler's latest remarks should be the last straw.

"We note that Chair Weyler has chosen to repeatedly ignore your directive regarding the 'importance of respecting information provided by our trusted health officials,'" they wrote in a letter to Packard.

"With extreme urgency, we once again ask you to remove Rep. Weyler from his leadership position on the House Finance and Fiscal Committee."

Weyler sent the material to committee members as they prepare to vote on $27 million in federal contracts for vaccination outreach.

The fiscal committee voted along party lines in mid-September to table the contracts.

They meet again Oct. 22.

Weyler, a retired airline pilot, turns 80 years old on Oct. 18.

klandrigan@unionleader.com