A state Senator’s refusal to resign from office has led to Missouri Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson, R, demanding that the Senate have her expelled from office. The move is in response to Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, posting and then deleting a social media comment saying President Donald Trump should be assassinated. Several state and federal Missouri lawmakers in both major parties have called for her to step down.
“Each body, whether it’s in the House of Representatives or the Senate, have the ability to basically clean their own house. This is a time it needs to be done,” says Parson.
Has a Missouri Legislative body ever expelled a member or passed a censure resolution? Missourinet’s inquiry to a few people in the know has been answered with no recollection of this ever being the case in the state’s history.
“In my entire career, I’ve never heard of a Missouri State Senator ever seeking the assassination of a President of the United States. I believe this calls for extraordinary times, for extraordinary action,” says Parson.
Chappelle-Nadal, who suggests there are legislators cheating on their wives and smoking marijuana in their offices and are not asked to resign, says she’s not going to step down for a mistake she has owned up to. Chappelle-Nadal says her comment is out of frustration with Trump “causing so much hate” and last weekend’s white nationalists rally in Virginia.
“There is no excuses. You can’t put a spin on that. You’re responsible for those remarks,” says Parson. “Being a state Senator or being an elected official does not make her above the law or make any of us above the law. I will be seeking an official legal opinion from the Attorney General’s Office to ensure Article III will fully apply to this situation,” says Parson.
Under the section of the state Constitution Parson cites, two-thirds of Missouri Senate members would have to vote to remove her from office.
One question being raised involves her Constitutional right to free speech. The issue could get into long, drawn-out, sticky, expensive legal territory about her protected First Amendment right. To avoid this argument, legislators could instead pass a resolution expressing their disgust about her comment and having her caucus consider removing Chappelle-Nadal from her legislative committee positions. Chappelle-Nadal is term-limited from office and would serve her final legislative year in 2018.
She represents a district with a lot of baggage that could go unrepresented for a year. Her district includes the racially-turmoiled community of Ferguson and another area with many people battling health issues from radioactive waste contamination.