The Buzz

Missouri lawmaker claims he got into fistfight with fellow lawmaker

Rep. Michael Butler, left, and Rep. Courtney Curtis
Rep. Michael Butler, left, and Rep. Courtney Curtis KansasCity

A St. Louis lawmaker alleges he was involved in a fistfight with a fellow Democrat last week outside of a bar just down the street from the Missouri Capitol.

And while the Missouri House debated ethics reform legislation aimed at cleaning up the Capitol’s public image, the alleged fight and resulting restraining order caused House officials to move one of the lawmaker’s seat in the chamber.

Rep. Courtney Curtis says he and Rep. Michael Butler, both St. Louis Democrats, got into a scuffle following a Missouri AFL-CIO fund-raising reception at Bones Restaurant and Lounge.

Curtis was the only Democrat last year to vote with Republicans in a failed attempted to make Missouri a right-to-work state. He says Butler took a swing at him in an alley as he was leaving the event. Butler has declined to comment on the situation.

In the days that followed, Curtis filed a police report and a complaint with the House Ethics Committee. He’s also been granted a temporary restraining order against Butler.

“I am incredibly disappointed in the actions that transpired in the last week,” Curtis said in a statement released Tuesday.

The two lawmakers were roommates during the 2015 session and sat near each other in the House.

In response to the restraining order, the House moved Butler from his previous seat to one in the back of the chamber to separate him from Curtis.

“We made a good faith effort to acknowledge the court’s order while also protecting the constitutional right of each House member,” said Adam Crumbliss, Chief Clerk of the Missouri House.

House Minority Leader Jake Hummel, a St. Louis Democrat, said their House parking spots were found to be far enough apart, and the pair don’t serve on any legislative committees together.

The only possible issue would be when the House Democratic Caucus meets, but Hummel said that will be worked out when needed.

The allegations come less than a month into a legislative session where lawmakers had vowed to repair the public’s tarnished perception of the Capitol following a year of scandal.