Commentary

Lawmaker under DV order gets another delay in criminal case, skips House vote on DV bill

Rep. Henson and Speaker Moore

The good people at Carolina Public Press are continuing to report on the disturbing case of a western North Carolina lawmaker who faces criminal cyberstalking charges for actions taken toward his estranged wife.

This is from the latest story by reporter Kate Martin:

Rep. Cody Henson, R-Transylvania, abstained from a House vote on a bill on domestic violence protection orders in Raleigh on Wednesday afternoon.

His nonvote came a day after he received a continuance in a criminal cyberstalking case against him. “They needed him in Raleigh,” Henson’s attorney, J. Michael Edney, told Carolina Public Press outside the Transylvania County courthouse in Brevard on Tuesday.

The state House of Representatives unanimously passed Senate Bill 493, which modifies existing law about domestic violence protection orders.

It is a topic Henson is personally familiar with, as a judge awarded his wife, Kelsey Henson, a yearlong domestic violence protection order against him in February.

Henson now faces the cyberstalking charge related to his alleged conduct in that matter, according to Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office and court records.

Henson voted on other bills throughout the day Wednesday, according to legislative records. He did not respond to an emailed question from CPP regarding his abstention.

Yesterday’s abstention on the domestic violence legislation vote serves to confirm an observation/forecast I made in a commentary back in April that Henson’s pending criminal case makes it impossible for him to properly represent his constituents in the 113th District. As I noted at the time with respect to Henson’s membership on a committee charged with preventing violence in our schools:

How in the world will that work out? What is Henson going to do – recuse himself from taking a position on the legislation due to a potential conflict of interest? And how is a constituent – say, a woman who has been the victim of domestic violence – going to feel any degree of safety and peace of mind when she tries to speak to the lawmaker on such an issue?

While Henson has announced he will not seek reelection next year, this is clearly not an adequate solution. Yesterday’s skipped vote confirms that.

The continued silence of House Speaker Tim Moore and other powerful Republican lawmakers and corporate contributors who’ve previously backed Henson is also unacceptable. Moore and other House GOP leaders should demand Henson’s overdue resignation immediately.

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