JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Republican state Sen. Mike Cierpiot ruffled feathers with members of his own party after he spent time castigating the so-called Conservative Caucus from the Senate floor Monday afternoon.
Cierpiot spent several minutes Monday afternoon lambasting a series of bills — from one establishing a film tax credit to a bevy of legislation pertaining to gambling — he contended were inconsistent with conservative principles. He said he would support a number of the bills he mentioned but doesn’t “claim to be pure.”
He said he wanted to point out what he saw as “inconsistencies” with the group of lawmakers calling themselves “conservative.”
Members of the Conservative Caucus include: Sens. Eric Burlison, Bill Eigel, Denny Hoskins, Andrew Koenig, Cindy O’Laughlin, and Bob Onder.
“They might rename themselves an ‘Inconsistent Caucus’ because they certainly are,” Cierpiot said, also suggesting the “‘Kansas Caucus’ … or ‘Chaos Caucus’ because that seems to be what they’re mostly after.”
Those conservative senators unsurprisingly took umbrage with Cierpiot “attacking” members of his own party.
“I have never seen a member of the majority caucus denounce half a dozen members … because he did not get invited to the club,” Eigel, clearly perturbed, said. “I have never seen a member of the majority caucus stand up with a written speech calling out members of his own party, calling out what he calls ‘hypocritical statements.’”
Eigel called Cierpiot’s move “disappointing” and suggested it wouldn’t “help his relationships.” He also castigated Cierpiot for never coming to his office to discuss his issues.
“I can’t get over the timing. The idea [that] after we reached compromise on some of the most difficult issues that this chamber has faced yet this year, [Cierpiot] decides this was the moment we were going to break the chamber, this was the moment we were going to make it personal,” Eigel said. “It’s pretty disappointing to me.”
“I have never seen a member of the majority caucus denounce half a dozen members … because he did not get invited to the club.”
Sen. Dave Schatz, the president pro tem, was more diplomatic in his response to Cierpiot’s comments. The Senate passed Monday his massive infrastructure bonding resolution, a major legislative victory for him and Gov. Mike Parson that came to fruition after an overnight filibuster and a bit of compromise last week.
“I believe we’re all here for the purpose of serving our constituents. To that end, I think it’s in our best interest to remember that. This is a privilege and honor for us to serve here,” Schatz said when pressed by Eigel. “Hopefully we don’t get lost in that, some of the passion we at times have, the frustrations that sometimes may occur on this floor. Hopefully, we can work our way past that and remember to come back to what’s really important: service to the state of Missouri.”
Hoskins, too, took Cierpiot’s speech to task Monday and repeatedly grilled his colleague on the particular bills Cierpiot referenced; Cierpiot, however, continued to deflect the inquiries because he said he didn’t have the specific bill numbers in front of him.
“So you’re saying we should all be clones and not have our own ideas. Is that what you’re saying?” Hoskins said.
He argued if that’s the position Cierpiot took, then there shouldn’t be 24 different Republican state senators in the legislature and would just vote as “one.”
At its inception, the Conservative Caucus listed abortion, gun rights, and health care, regulatory, and tort reform as its main priorities.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in March 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City. Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S. and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa. She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.