Rep. Morris resigns, won't complete term

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BENNINGTON — State Rep. Kiah Morris, who announced Aug. 24 she would end her campaign for re-election to the House from the Bennington 2-2 District, has now decided to resign immediately.

"When I recently announced my withdrawal from re-election, it was my intention to continue service until completion of the current term, which ends in January of 2019," Morris said in a statement posted Tuesday night on her Facebook page.

"However, this time has proven to be one of significant challenge for my family," Morris said. "My husband is beginning the long physical journey of recovery following extensive open-heart surgery."

Morris, who is African-American, had cited racially motivated threats and online harassment in 2016 and beginning again in August in withdrawing from the House race, in which she was unopposed for a third term.

"We face continued harassment and seek legal remedies to the harm endured," she said in the release.

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While Morris, and her husband, James Lawton, reported recent incidents in which youths pounded on the door at their home, prompting calls to police, Lawton said Tuesday those incidents did not prompt the decision.

"That had already been decided," he said in a text.

Three days after Morris announced she would not continue her campaign, Attorney General TJ Donovan said he had "opened an active, ongoing investigation into complaints of online threats made against state [Morris]." Donovan said the AG's Office would work with the Vermont State Police and computer forensic experts "to ensure a thorough and complete investigation of this matter."

No details of the ongoing investigation have yet been released.

"I step away now to focus on caring for and supporting my family during this time of transition and ensure our health, safety and well-being are prioritized," Morris said in the release. "I want to thank the many individuals and organizations who continue to stand in solidarity with us, speak out, organize, donate and more as we press on the journey ahead. TEAM KIAH is all of us. Thank you."

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont and VTDigger.org. Email: jtherrien@benningtonbanner.com. @BB_therrien on Twitter.


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