A Republican state legislator in New Hampshire announced during a legislative debate Wednesday that she has a shrine to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in her house.
State Rep. Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack) told colleagues that she loves history, particularly Civil War history, during a discussion about a bill that would direct the state liquor commission to create a Civil War commemorative bottle to raise funds for the Civil War battle flags displayed at the Statehouse in Concord.
Notter described her Civil War collection, including a shrine to Lee, history books, and two cross-stitches made with an app on her iPad, one depicting Lee praying and another of Union and Confederate generals crossing swords.
The bill passed, but must be considered by a legislative fiscal committee before final approval can be given. The legislation was scheduled to be voted on, without debate, but Notter pulled it in order to speak out in favor. She is not a co-sponsor of the legislation.
The speech was caught on tape by Granite State Progress, a liberal advocacy group. Notter could not be reached for comment, but a New Hampshire Democrat responded.
"Representative Notter’s insensitive comments are further evidence that New Hampshire Republicans have turned against everything that President Lincoln stood for," state Democratic Party spokesman Harrell Kirstein said. "The party of Kelly Ayotte and Jeb Bradley continues to be a national embarrassment and a pathetic reminder the radical tea party extremism voters rejected last fall."
A second-term lawmaker with ties to the tea party, Notter has a history of making notable statements. In 2012 she told a legislative committee that birth control pills cause prostate cancer. In 2011, she suggested that cancer patients hold bake sales to pay for their treatments, along with finding other community support. The remarks came during a hearing about New Hampshire trying to exempt itself from the new federal health care law.
UPDATE: 9:25 p.m. -- Notter told HuffPost Wednesday evening that she has Lee collectables, but doesn't know if her collection qualifies as a shrine.
"I used it that way as a joke to get a chuckle from the people. It is kind of an inside joke," Notter said. "A friend of mine has a shrine to Lucille Ball. But it’s not a shrine it’s just a lot of stuff. I have pictures and statues of Robert E. Lee because I admire him.”
Notter, who has studied Civil War history, told HuffPost that her admiration for Lee has to do with him being torn between staying with the Union or fighting for the Confederacy on behalf of his native state of Virginia. She said she was also moved by stories of Lee knelling beside a newly freed slave during a church service following the Civil War. She said that story sent the "profound message" of the two being equal.
Notter said she believes Kirstein is looking to use her words to score political points.
“They’ll take anything and twist it," Notter said.