A public hearing over Facebook comments made by a Missouri state lawmaker has been moved following the release of a letter slamming the scheduling process.
Missouri House Democratic Minority Floor Leader Gail McCann Beatty of Kansas City issued an open letter Monday morning asking for a new date to be set for the hearing, which had been scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m. at the state capitol.
Early Monday afternoon Republican Representative Kevin Austin of Springfield, who chairs House Ethics Committee that is holding the hearing, announced the proceeding had been moved to January 4th at 8:30 a.m. in the state capitol.
Austin’s office informed Missourinet the move was made to accommodate the committee Vice-Chair, Democrat Gina Mitten of St. Louis, who said she was unable to attend the Friday session.
The hearing will address a complaint about Republican Representative Warren Love of Osceola. Love wrote on Facebook in August that he hoped the vandals of the General Sterling Price Confederate statue at the Springfield National Cemetery would be “hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”
McCann Beatty said in her letter that she understood Austin became the committee’s chairman only recently, but contended there was no reason for “sudden haste”. She noted Republican Majority Leadership had promised a hearing would take place in November, which never happened.
Austin was appointed to head the Ethics Committee after former chairman Mike Cierpiot, R-Lee’s Summit, was elected to the State Senate in a special election in November.
In her correspondence, McCann Beatty complained that scheduling a hearing for Friday afternoon three days before Christmas is meant to discourage people from making the trip to testify.
She also claimed the timing was meant to minimize public awareness, and added that Republican House Speaker Todd Richardson had granted the chamber’s employees the day off.
McCann Beatty further said she’s disappointed public notice was given one week in advance without informing the five Democratic members of the committee.
She said that neither the members nor herself, one of the complainants, have been given time to properly prepare for the proceedings.
She urged Chairman Austin to immediately reschedule the hearing for some time after the New Year. Representative Love’s office confirmed to Missourinet that Love plans to attend the hearing if it’s held Friday.
Love has apologized for his words, saying he does not advocate violence toward the vandal.
McCann Beatty delivered an emotional House floor speech during the September veto session in Jefferson City.
During that speech, she blasted Love’s post and later wrote a letter to him, saying that he had “forfeited the right to hold elected office.”
During an extensive October interview with Missourinet, Love told us that he would tell Beatty he is sorry and that he cannot undo the words, adding that he has also apologized to members of Missouri’s Legislative Black Caucus.
Love also hopes Beatty will support his proposed Missouri Heritage Protection Act.
The proposed legislation would prohibit any agency or political subdivision from relocating, renaming or removing any state historic military monument and memorial.