Lt. Gov. Mike Parson is calling on Missouri Senate leaders to convene a special session to expel Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal over a Facebook comment she posted saying she hoped President Donald Trump would be assassinated.
Chappelle-Nadal, a University City Democrat, 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.
On Sunday, she publicly apologized to Trump and his family, along with her Senate colleagues.
“I am a servant of God, and I am a servant of the people that I represent,” she said. “And I failed them both recently.”
But an apology is not enough for Parson. In a letter sent Tuesday to Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe and copied to Senate President Ron Richard and Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh, Parson said Chappelle-Nadal’s comments were “unacceptable and unbefitting conduct of a Missouri State Senator.”
“I am calling on you to exercise your authority as Majority Floor Leader to begin the process for calling a special session, with the purpose of expelling Senator Chappelle-Nadal from the Missouri Senate,” the letter reads.
Article III, Section 18 of the state constitution says the Senate may expel one of its members upon a two-thirds vote. Both Kehoe and Richard have said Chappelle-Nadal should resign or they will work to expel her from the Senate.
After receiving the letter, Walsh released a statement saying she was removing Chappelle-Nadal from all the legislative committees she was serving on.
The state’s top elected officials have joined to call for Chappelle-Nadal’s resignation, from Republican Gov. Eric Greitens to Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. Chappelle-Nadal has refused to step down.
Not everyone is behind the effort to oust Chappelle-Nadal.
State Rep. Bruce Franks, a St. Louis Democrat, released a statement saying that while he disagrees with what she said, “people make mistakes.” He questioned why people were calling on Chappelle-Nadal to resign but never called for “the resignation of officers, politicians and others who have actually committed crimes and not just spoke out of emotion and apologized.”
David Barklage, a veteran Republican political consultant, said over the weekend that he doesn’t think the Senate will expel Chappelle-Nadal. He said forcing out a politician over a social media mistake would set a dangerous precedent and give too much power to the media.
“Is this how we want to operate in an era where cameras are so accessible and where social media is there?” Barklage said in a Sunday television interview. “Especially when you’re passionate, to accidentally say something that came out because of passion or sincerity or just off color, it’s just too easy to end someone’s career.”
Barklage, who in 2015 spearheaded efforts to delay and shoot down stories about former House Speaker John Diehl’s relationship with an intern that eventually led to his resignation, emphasized that “attacking the press is not defending” Chappelle-Nadal.
If Chappelle-Nadal is expelled from the Senate she will lose her legislative pension. If she resigns, she will retain her pension.
On Sunday, Chappelle-Nadal gave no indication that she was going to step down.
“I will continue to fight for issues that are really important,” she said.