While most national-level Republicans have responded to allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama ex-chief justice and current senatorial candidate Roy Moore by condemning the alleged actions and suggesting Moore drop out of the campaign, various state-level GOPers in Alabama have rallied in support of Moore, most infamously Alabama’s state auditor Jim Zeigler, who defended Moore in part by citing Biblical stories of young woman/older man pairings, including Mary and Joseph who, according to Christian doctrine, are the mother and stepfather of Jesus Christ.
But Alabama Republicans have not finished defending Moore. On Nov. 10, the day after the Washington Post first reported the allegations against More, Republican state representative Ed Henry (not to be confused with Ed Henry the Fox News correspondent) suggested that the women who’d come forward to complain about Moore’s alleged sexual misconduct years before should themselves be prosecuted for not having come forward sooner. Here’s five things you need to know:
1. He Believes Roy Moore is the Real Victim
On Thursday, Nov. 9, the Washington Post published the accounts of four different women who all said Moore initiated sexual contact with them when Moore was in his early 30s and they in their early teens. That night, the Cullman Times, a daily newspaper covering Cullman County, Alabama, interviewed state representative Ed Henry (whose district includes parts of Cullman County) about the allegations, for an article published the next day.
According to the Cullman Times, Henry believes the accusations against Moore were politically motivated, to harm Moore’s chances in Alabama’s special senatorial election next month. That said, Henry also doubted the allegations would harm Moore. “The idea that accusations like this would stop his campaign is ludicrous. If this was a habit, like you’ve read with Bill Cosby and millions of dollars paid to settle cases and years of witnesses, that would be one thing. You cannot tell me there hasn’t been an opportunity through the years to make these accusations with as many times as [Moore’s] run [for office] and been in the news.”
Henry went on to tell Cullman Times reporter David Palmer that he thinks legal action should be pursued against Moore’s accusers, because “If they believe this man is predatory, they are guilty of allowing him to exist for 40 years. I think someone should prosecute and go after them. You can’t be a victim 40 years later, in my opinion.”
Henry expanded that theme on Nov. 10 when, as reported by AL.com, when he said that Moore was the vicitm of false allegations intended to smear him. “I don’t believe [Moore’s accusers],” he said. “Maybe there is some legal prosecution for lying and interfering with a political process. But probably not. I would suspect there would be some type of litigation and lawsuits coming at some point. I don’t believe them.”
He also said that if Moore actually did do what his accusers say, then his victims would be “accomplices” to any other crimes Moore might have committed, because their refusal to come forward earlier essentially meant they were part of a criminal coverup. “If anybody knows of a crime that there’s a predator out there and you sit back and wait for 40 years to say anything about it and let those kinds of things happen, then you should be as guilty as they are for allowing that to occur,” Henry said. “With things like the Bill Cosby incident where they paid people to be quiet, those people who were paid, to me, are as guilty as he was and should be prosecuted. And if these women truly believe that Roy Moore is a sexual predator, then they are equally as guilty for allowing a sexual predator to be out there for 40 years.”
2. He Semi-Recanted on Twitter the Next Day
As news of (and outrage over) Henry’s comments gained traction online, Henry took to Twitter to clear the air, as he put it, saying “Clearing the air. I don’t believe victims of sexual assault should be prosecuted. I believe people who falsely accuse should be accountable.”
Henry joined Twitter in December 2010, and in his Twitter bio describes himself as “Alabama State Representative, HD9 (R). Trying to hold politicians accountable and make them answer to the people with zero regard for my own political life.” A scroll through his Twitter feed suggests that he believes “hold[ing] politicians accountable” is near-synonymous with “supporting Roy Moore and the right wing in general”; on Sep. 25, for example, he tweeted a photo montage showing Steve Bannon and other far-right luminaries under the explanation “Around 1400 people have gathered to support @MooreSenate along w/ some of the most conservative people on the Nation.”
On Oct. 13, after news broke that Roy Moore had received and not disclosed a $180,000 annual salary from a charity he personally had founded, Henry dismissed any criticism of Moore’s actions as jealousy. “I’d take it,” he admonished a Moore critic on Twitter. “Unfortunately for me and you no one cares enough to pay us to speak. Don’t be jealous of others. I like seeing people succeed.”
3. He Opposes Abortion and Regrets That His Ex-Girlfriend had One
Before endorsing Roy Moore’s Senate campaign, Henry had briefly tried running for that Senate seat himself. Alabama’s special election next month will fill a seat left vacant after then-senator Jeff Sessions accepted an appointment to lead the Department of Justice.
Last May, Henry was one of four candidates for that Senate seat, along with Moore, Luther Strange (whom Moore recently defeated in the Alabama Senate Republican primary), and former Alabama state Christian Coalition chair Randy Brinson. AL.com ran a profile piece on then-candidate Ed Henry headlined “Senate hopeful Ed Henry says he regrets girlfriend’s 1991 abortion, vows to fight Planned Parenthood.” That article, in turn, referred to a 2012 incident wherein state representative Ed Henry of Hartselle spoke at a “pro-life” rally and admitted his ex-girlfriend had had an abortion in 1991.
“It ripped my heart out with the devastation these abortions cause,” Henry told the crowd. “In ’91 I was in a similar situation where I had a girlfriend who was with child and I made a decision that I will regret — that we went and I murdered my child, my first child. I’ve never said this publicly.”
However, he said, the impact of his decision did not hit him until eight years later, when he was 30 years old and married, and his wife was 12 weeks pregnant with their daughter, and after he saw the ultrasound ” it came down on me like a ton of bricks that I had murdered my first child.” (How the ex-girlfriend in question felt about the matter, Henry did not say.)
As for his Senate campaign: on May 17 he announced that he would not run, and held a press conference in front of state Republican headquarters where he made a show of ripping his qualifying papers in half.
4. He was a Medical Technician Before Going Into Politics
Henry’s capsule biography on Capwiz’s Alabama legislature information says that he was born July 30, 1970, is married to Wendi, and his previous occupation was as a medical technician before starting his political experience in Alabama’s state legislature in 2010.
The Alabama state legislature page for Henry shows no sponsored legislation from him, but lists his presence on three committees: vice-chair of the Ethics and Campaign Finance Committee, and a regular member of the Education Policy and State Government committees.
Henry’s Ballotpedia biography has a bit more detail, saying that he was a radiological technologist in the Air Force from 1993 through 1997. After laving the Air Force, he worked as a medical sales representative for General Electric from 1997 through 2002, slightly overlapping with the two years (2000-2002) he was director of radiology at Woodland Medical Center.
According to income and debt information listed on the ethics forms Henry had to fill out for his short-lived senatorial campaign, Henry owns 50 percent of My Practice 24, described on its website as selling “Chronic Care Management systems [which] allow patients to take an active role in managing their health while facilitating better communication between primary caregivers and patients,” though AL.com said the service is actually aimed at physicians, and a 30 percent owner of Lightwire Solutions, an IT company based in Decatur, Alabama. He also earns $42,830 as a member of the Alabama House.
5. He’s Previously Defended Donald Trump by Calling Bill Clinton a Rapist
During the 2016 presidential election, Henry was co-chair of Trump’s Alabama campaign, and a Trump delegate at the GOP convention that July. Trump, of course, was frequently criticized for his sexist comments and behaviors. After the first presidential debate Trump and Hillary Clinton, Henry tweeted on Sep. 26, 2016 “It is ironic that Lying Hillary blast Trump as a sexist when she is married to Bill, who is likely a rapist.”
Henry obvious finds accusations of impropriety against Clinton far more believable than any against Trump or Roy Moore; on Nov. 10, 2017, after his defense of Moore and apparent support for prosecution of Moore’s allegd victims brought him unwanted national attention, he tweeted “The question ‘what if it is true’ is such trap. Question should be ‘who do you believe?’ It’s classic he said she said. Wreaks [sic] of politics”.