The movement to force Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal out of office seemed to gain momentum as the hours passed Tuesday.
The Democratic lawmaker from St. Louis initially received swift blowback quickly after it became known she had posted the phrase “I hope Trump is assassinated!’ on her Facebook page last Thursday.
Chappelle-Nadal quickly deleted her words, but an image circulated online and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were swift to pounce. Response ranged from sharp criticism to calls for her to resign or be removed from office.
The Senator would later explain to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she hadn’t intended to call for the President’s assassination. “I didn’t mean what I put up. Absolutely not,” said Chappelle-Nadal. “It was in response to the concerns that I am hearing from residents of St. Louis.”
Tuesday, Republican Senator Paul Weiland of Imperial wasn’t sympathetic to her account of events. “Now that, kind of, she’s getting political backlash, now she’s coming up with another story,” said Weiland. “I look at the immediate stories that were done, and what she said to the media right after the event. And that tells me a whole lot about what’s in her heart.”
Weiland initially released a statement Friday in which he questioned her effectiveness to function in the Missouri Senate, and expressed hope that she would resign.
After Chappelle Nadal held an event with supporters Sunday where she apologized for her Facebook post, Monday’s solar eclipse may have diverted attention away from her predicament.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh of Bellefontaine Neighbors issued a statement Tuesday announcing that Chappelle-Nadal had been stripped of committee assignments in the chamber. She later explained to Missourinet that she had spoken to Republican Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard about the issue.
“He had notified me that he was considering removing her from some of the committees that he had the authority to do so,” said Walsh. “Some of those committees I only had the authority to do it. I pondered on it, and I called the Senator and I told her (Chappelle-Nadal) what I was going to do. And then Ron said he supported my action.”
Richard then released a statement confirming his support for Walsh’s move, and said he too was removing Chappelle-Nadal from all appointments under his authority.
Several hours later Tuesday afternoon, Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson released a letter addressed to members of the Senate calling on them to go into special session in conjunction with the Veto Session, with the purpose of expelling Senator Chappelle-Nadal from the body.
Parson indicated the procedure was allowed under the Missouri Constitution. “I do not make this request of you lightly, but you and I know it is the right course of action to take for the people of Missouri,” said Parson.
The veto session occurs every year in mid-September, when the legislature gathers to consider whether to try and override the Governor’s veto of bills it’s passed. A special session can occur if it’s called by Governor Greitens or if a three-quarters majority of both the House and Senate sign off on the action.
Five days after her controversial post on Facebook, Senator Chappelle-Nadal appears to be facing strong headwinds, with much of the pressure coming from her own party. Democrats in Congress, including Representative William Lacy Clay and Senator Claire McCaskill have asked for her to resign. And State House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty has done the same.
State Senator Walsh says Chappelle Nadal’s remarks are not becoming of the office she holds. “We are all individuals in the Senate. And we are all held to a higher standard as elected officials. That statement she made is way below the dignity of the office. And it’s way below the dignity of common decency.”
Two Republican Majority Senate leaders released a joint statement late Tuesday indicating preparations were being made to remove Chappelle-Nadal from office if necessary.
President Pro Tem Richard said “We are preparing for options afforded in the Missouri Constitution and the Senate Rules if she continues to defy the public outcry and not resign.” Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe said “We are researching the detailed steps involved in the expulsion process and will be prepared to move forward as necessary.”
The Secret Service announced it was looking into Chappelle-Nadal’s statement shortly after it became public last week.