Gov. Eric Greitens harshly criticized a pair of Republican state senators Tuesday night after they refused to vote down a planned pay raise for Missouri lawmakers.
Greitens, also a Republican, turned to his Facebook page to address controversy that erupted following a debate the previous night in the Missouri Senate.
Senators were debating a bill to turn down a salary increase that was approved by a citizens commission that sets lawmaker pay. Greitens vehemently opposed the pay hike, and he personally pressured senators to vote it down in a series of one-on-one meetings in Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard’s office.
Only Denny Hoskins, a Warrensburg Republican, and Paul Wieland, a Jefferson County Republican, cast votes to allow the raise to take effect, while six other senators recused themselves and didn’t vote. The pay raise was rejected 25-2.
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Wieland said Monday night that Greitens was disrespectful in their meeting, describing the governor’s actions as “intimidation” and saying “I felt insulted.” Hoskins called the tone of his meeting, “tense.” Neither would elaborate on the details. Several Democratic senators jumped to their defense and called on Greitens to apologize.
Even though he won the vote and the pay raise was defeated, Greitens lashed out at Wieland and Hoskins Tuesday night on Facebook.
“Senators Paul Wieland and Denny Hoskins betrayed the people they are supposed to serve last night, by voting to raise their own pay,” Greitens wrote. “Senators Wieland and Hoskins owe the people an answer. They complained that it wasn't my place to interfere on behalf of Missourians, and that I was a bit too rough with them. Others asked me to apologize and show respect.”
“Will I apologize that we saved taxpayer's money last night?” Greitens continued. “No.”
Greitens called the seven hours spent debating the pay increase Monday night “a pathetic display.” However, the debate lasted as long as it did because GOP leaders stalled in order to give Greitens more time to pressure individual senators.
The governor called Monday’s vote “one of the clearest demonstrations of how out of touch politicians really are.”
Neither Wieland nor Hoskins could be reached Tuesday night for comment.
Lawmakers currently make roughly $36,000 a year, plus a $104 a day per diem during session for miscellaneous costs such as food and lodging. The rejected raise would have increased their salary $1,800 over the next two years.