BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A Republican Idaho state senator yelled “abortion is murder” at a group of students who were pushing for birth control legislation at the Statehouse and now faces an ethics complaint after a post from an unverified Twitter account told them to discuss “killing babies” with a Democratic lawmaker.
About a dozen University of Idaho students from Sen. Dan Foreman’s district in the city of Moscow had traveled nearly 300 miles (483 kilometers) for a scheduled meeting with him Monday. They planned to lobby for a Planned Parenthood-backed measure in the conservative state that would allow women to receive up to a 12-month supply of prescribed birth control and would promote better sex education on college campuses.
Foreman abruptly canceled the meeting, and the students left a note and a box of condoms in his office before heading to other meetings with lawmakers. He later passed the students in the hallway, and several recorded him shouting, “Abortion is murder.”
“I’m a Roman Catholic and a conservative Republican. I think what you guys are doing stinks,” Foreman says on the video.
The students were not at the Capitol to talk about abortion, said Paul Dillon, public affairs director of Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho.
They were encouraging lawmakers to vote in favor of the birth control measure, and other meetings were peaceful, even if the lawmakers disagreed, Dillon said. He described Foreman as “completely unhinged.”
“Even if you disagree with what we have to say, there’s no excuse for that kind behavior,” Dillon said. “He was being a bully.”
Foreman has not responded to requests for comment.
Later Monday, a tweet from an unverified Twitter account purporting to belong to Foreman said someone in the group had a “wild outburst” at the meeting time and directed the students to “go talk about killing babies with Maryanne Jordan,” a Democratic senator. That prompted Jordan to file an ethics complaint against Foreman.
“It’s one thing to disagree with policy, it’s another thing to position something like that against another lawmaker,” Jordan said. “This type of behavior is beneath the Idaho Senate.”
Ethics complaints against lawmakers are typically anonymous, so while Jordan confirmed she filed a complaint, she did not reveal many details about what was included.
After the complaint was filed, the roughly year-old unverified Twitter account was deleted, then briefly reactivated to say it was not affiliated with Foreman and deleted again. A message seeking comment with the account manager was not immediately returned.
It’s not the first time Foreman has raised eyebrows for breaking decorum.
Last year, body-camera video from the Latah County Sheriff’s Department showed Foreman swearing and shouting insults with an unseen and unidentified male on Sept. 14 — the first day of the county fair.
It ended when the deputy asked Foreman to move along.
The senator also has faced scrutiny over an email response to a constituent’s concerns over climate change. Foreman called global warming “nonsense” and said it was a scam used by left-wing fanatics to raise taxes.
Earlier this year, Foreman stormed out of a committee meeting when the chairman didn’t allow him to argue a measure that wasn’t on the agenda.
Foreman, 64, is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and retired Moscow police officer. He was narrowly elected to the Idaho Senate in 2016 in a surprise upset, ousting longtime Democratic Sen. Dan Schmidt.
During his first legislative session, Foreman shocked both parties by backing a proposal that would have classified abortion as first-degree murder — not only for the woman but also the doctor.
The measure never got a hearing, but Foreman has remained an outspoken opponent of abortion. This year, he has supported toughening Idaho’s abortion laws through a ballot initiative.