The Missouri Senate opened its Tuesday morning session with a burst of emotion from Senator Denny Hoskins.
The Warrensburg Republican said Governor Eric Greitens’ senior adviser, Austin Chambers, had threatened the chamber. He then took issue with what he called accusations of corruption.
“We can’t have 21 year-old senior advisers to the governor lobbing bombs and trying to derail things, and trying to take over the Missouri State Legislature, whether it’s the House or the Senate” said Hoskins.
Republican Senator Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph nearly single handedly brought floor action in the chamber to a halt last week through filibusters largely focused on his distaste for managed care.
Friday, Greitens’ non-profit PAC – A New Missouri – which is headed by Chambers, launched a series radio and digital ads along with robocalls against Schaaf. They included his cell phone number and urged constituents to tell him to “stop siding with liberals”.
The move was largely criticized by Senators on both sides of the aisle.
Monday, Schaaf made a speech to open the Senate session, where he called on Greitens to return large campaign contributions and stop calling senators “corrupt career politicians”.
The Associated Press reported Chambers as saying the PAC’s media campaign wasn’t “just something against Sen. Schaaf. If there are others who are standing in the way or if there are others who are being very supportive of the agenda, then we will engage with them.”
During his barrage of disparaging remarks Tuesday, Hoskins became outraged at Chambers’ apparent threat.
“I’ve never met this Austin Chambers. Nor do I care to meet him. But I know that we have a job to do here in the Senate. And, by god, I’m not going to let some 21-year-old, immature senior adviser to the governor derail what the voters put me here to do.”
Hoskins further said Chambers’ “dirty politics and campaign mode has to stop”.
He was followed by Schaaf, who was equally outraged by Chambers remarks, but claimed the senior adviser was taking marching orders from Governor Greitens.
“Every single member of this body has to be able to have a free and fair discussion, not a discussion in which we are afraid of doing the right thing because we fear the governor running $30,000 worth of ads in our home district to stop us, to push us to do his work, his agenda, when it may not be ours. That is not OK.”
The two Senators held the floor for roughly 10 minutes before the chamber moved on to open debate on the state budget.