At least one Republican state senator won’t vote to expel Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal over a Facebook comment she posted saying she hoped President Donald Trump would be assassinated.
In a letter to his Republican Senate colleagues this week, GOP Sen. Bob Dixon of Springfield called Chappelle-Nadal’s Facebook post “intemperate and embarrassing.” He even noted that in the past she has been “guilty of disrespect to the Senate and sometimes to its members personally by contemptuous behavior and comments.”
But while he would support an official censure of Chappelle-Nadal as well as her permanent removal from Senate committees, Dixon said he would not vote to expel her from the Senate.
“Others will come to different decisions,” he wrote. “Some will say in refusing to support expulsion I have not gone far enough, a few will say in supporting censure, and denying committee participation, I have gone too far. After thoughtful consideration and deliberation each must do what is in his or her heart and make their best-considered decision. I wish you the best in that pursuit.”
In a brief interview with The Star Tuesday afternoon, Dixon said his letter was supposed to be just for his Republican Senate colleagues, but now that it’s been made public, “I stand by every word I said.”
Dixon’s decision, which became public on the eve of Trump’s visit to Springfield, could improve the chances for the embattled Democrat from University City to remain in the Senate.
For Chappelle-Nadal to be expelled, 23 of the 33 current members of the Senate would have to vote to kick her out. Republicans hold 24 seats, so if all nine Democrats and one more Republican joins Dixon in opposing expulsion, Chappelle-Nadal will remain in the Senate until her term expires next year.
The saga began when earlier this month when Chappelle-Nadal posted a comment on her personal Facebook page saying, “I hope Trump is assassinated!”
Chappelle-Nadal deleted the comment and said posting it was a mistake. She said she posted the comment out of frustration with Trump’s statements about recent events in Charlottesville, Va., where an alleged white supremacist drove his car into a crowd near the city’s downtown mall, killing a 32-year-old woman.
She later publicly apologized to Trump and his family.
Her Facebook posts drew immediate scorn from across the political spectrum, with calls for her resignation coming from Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and Republican Gov. Eric Greitens.
Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, a Bolivar Republican, demanded that Senate leaders convene a special session to expel Chappelle-Nadal, saying her comments were “unacceptable and unbefitting conduct of a Missouri State Senator.”
Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh, a St. Louis County Democrat, resoundingly condemned Chappelle-Nadal’s comment and removed her from all of her committee assignments. But Walsh recently told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she may not vote to expel her.
“Today I wouldn’t,” Walsh said. “I want to have all the information before me. And somebody may say it’s a cop-out but it’s not. ... She will be subjected to due process.”
Sen. Jason Holsman, a Kansas City Democrat, noted that in 1945 the Missouri Senate undertook an expulsion trial and each member of the Senate served as a juror to render a verdict.
“To date the Secret Service is conducting an ongoing investigation to determine if criminal charges will be filed,” he said. “I have publicly condemned and disavowed Sen. Chappelle-Nadal’s indefensible remarks. But as a potential future juror, it would be inappropriate for me to discuss an outcome until due process has completed.”
Dixon said in his letter that he had decided against voting to expel Chappelle-Nadal after personal reflection.
“The wise Emperor of Rome, Marcus Aurelius, once cautioned, ‘Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?’ ” Dixon wrote.
“One hundred and fifty years before, a man from Galilee instructed an angry crowd to commence the stoning of a woman who had broken the ancient law, saying, ‘Whomever among you who has not sinned cast the first stone.’ A few moments, later he turned to her and said, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ”