Minority Floor Leader accuses Republicans of using holidays to sweep Love ethics complaint under the rug
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A southwestern Missouri state representative is scheduled to face a committee of his colleagues this Friday to debate the ethics of his actions, but the Democratic leader in the Missouri House of Representatives is calling for a rescheduled hearing.
Rep. Warren Love was chastised for his comments earlier in the year when he expressed hope that vandals who defaced a Confederate monument would be hanged. The Republican from Osceola said on Facebook that the vandals at a Springfield veterans cemetery should be “hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”
Those words led to harsh criticism from Missouri lawmakers, along with calls for his resignation, which he has refused.
A hearing had been supposed to take place back in November, but Rep. Kevin Austin said that was delayed after the chairman of the House Ethics committee was elected to the Missouri Senate in a special election, leaving Austin to assume the chairmanship.
But Rep. Gail McCann Beatty on Monday issued a letter, calling for the rescheduling of a preliminary hearing for January when state lawmakers return to session.
“While I am aware you became chairman only recently, the committee has delayed action on this matter for several weeks in breach of promises made by majority leadership that a public hearing would be held in November. Given the slow movement up to this point, I see no legitimate reason for the sudden haste,” she wrote. “In fact, it is clear that quietly scheduling the hearing for a Friday afternoon just three days before Christmas is intended to discourage people from showing up to testify, especially those who may be unavailable due to holiday travel, and to significantly minimize public awareness of the proceedings.”
She also noted that the House offices would be closed on that day, as Speaker Todd Richardson granted all employees the day off.
As of now, the hearing is set for 1 p.m. in House Hearing Room 3 on Friday, Dec. 22.
UPDATE: Ethics Committee Chairman Rep. Kevin Austin on Monday rescheduled the hearing on Rep. Love for Jan. 4.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.