UPDATED (11:40 a.m. Sunday)
Missouri state Rep. Sheila Solon has had enough of fellow Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder’s assertion that opponents of anti-union right-to-work legislation were “joyously yukking it up and high-fiving” union members following this week’s defeat of the legislation.
That, she said in a statement to The Buzz on Saturday, “is a bold-face lie” and a “fabrication” intended to defame those, like Solon, who oposed right-to-work.
“Lt. Governor Kinder was on the dais observing the vote and multiple news media outlets and cameras documented the vote,” Solon wrote. “I believe a review of the footage will show all of us sitting solemnly at our desks preparing for the next vote. The Lt. Governor’s statement describing the circumstances is absurd.”
But Kinder fired back late Saturday with a statement indicating that other witnesses observed what he described — though he admitted that Solon may not have been involved. And, Kinder produced one, Rep. Mark Parkinson, a St. Charles Republican.
“Peter Kinder’s description is dead on accurate,” Parkinson wrote on Twitter. He said the celebration occurred not in the House chamber, but in the Capitol rotunda.
Solon of Blue Springs was one of 20 Republicans who sided with Gov. Jay Nixon and opposed an override of his right-to-work veto during Wednesday’s veto session.
On Thursday, Kinder issued an op-ed asking whether advocating for right-to-work remains a cornerstone of the Missouri GOP in the future. Kinder, a three-term lieutenant governor, is the early front-runner for the GOP gubernatorial nomination next year.
Then he wrote this:
“Does that future belong to those GOP representatives seen, moments after their 20 votes sustained a Democratic governor's veto, joyously yukking it up and high-fiving the delirious (and shrinking) crowd from Big Labor?
“Or does that future belong to those of us who've expended years of time and treasure, blood and sweat in trying to enact this law? I am shoving all my chips to the center of the table on a bet that it is the latter, not the former, who will own the future of Missouri.”
Solon, however, disputed, Kinder’s characterization
“Labor supporters were in the balcony,” she said. “Unauthorized persons are not allowed on the House floor, and we remained seated as the meeting was still in session.”
Solon said she represented her district by voting the way she did.
“Now, according to the lieutenant governor, we did so at considerable personal and political risk.
“This was a prayerful and principled decision by me and my colleagues. We knew that doing the right thing is often hard, and there was no glee or celebrating by any of us. There were no cheers, but there were plenty of tears as it was a very difficult vote.
“The Republicans who voted no in support of their districts and working families are good conservative Republicans who took a tough vote. This is a fabrication invented to defame and discredit us. The lieutenant governor needs to produce a video supporting his claim or issue a retraction.”
In response, Kinder said this:
“Several witnesses have reported seeing multiple GOP representatives who had just voted no, out in the hallway, celebrating with right to work opponents from organized labor. My column's purpose was not to call out names, and I won't. They know who they are.
“”I take Rep. Solon at her word that she, and others among the 20, were not among the celebrants. But that does not mean I am barred from expressing the dismay of so many of us toward those who were seen celebrating the defeat of legislation so important to Missouri workers.”