Cierpiot, Conservative Caucus fight spills into second day

Senate Conservative Caucus (ALISHA SHURR/THE MISSOURI TIMES).
  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The kerfuffle among some Senate Republicans following Sen. Mike Cierpiot’s public criticisms of the so-called Conservative Caucus continued Tuesday afternoon from the floor.

For the second day in the row, the bickering between Cierpiot and the Conservative Caucus continued in a public forum, with Republican Sen. Bill Eigel castigating his colleague for not coming to the group of lawmakers privately with his concerns.

State Sen. Mike Cierpiot

“When you stand up and make personal attacks in a … speech you’ve clearly been planning for some time, it’s very difficult to believe that you’re interested in a relationship with this chamber when you cavalierly call your colleagues names,” Eigel said.  

“All this comes back to your objection of words certain senators are using to describe themselves and not you,” Eigel contended.

Cierpiot shot back: “I don’t need a group to tell me I’m a conservative. I know I am. I was a conservative long before many in here knew what that word meant.”

Aside from Eigel, members of the Conservative Caucus include: Sens. Eric Burlison, Denny Hoskins, Andrew Koenig, Cindy O’Laughlin, and Bob Onder. At its inception, the group listed abortion, gun rights, and health care, regulatory reform, and tort reform as its main priorities.

Cierpiot gave an impassioned soliloquy from the Senate floor Monday after decrying what he saw as “inconsistencies” among the legislative priorities of the Conservative Caucus. He suggested the group of six lawmakers change its name to the “Inconsistent Caucus” or even the “Chaos Caucus.”

“I don’t need a group to tell me I’m a conservative.”

Hoskins took umbrage with Cierpiot’s move Monday — but by Tuesday afternoon he expressed a willingness to move on from the dispute. He said the two attended the same barbecue event Monday evening after the Senate adjourned — sans any awkwardness.

“I know we have four and a half weeks left, and I hope that we can continue to try and work together and move forward from this,” Hoskins told The Missouri Times, noting Cierpiot is a friend and roommate. He called for more “open communication,” particularly if Cierpiot has a “particular concern” with his legislation in the future.

“As a legislator you learn that you’re going to have many disagreements, especially out on the Senate floor, and that’s tough to do, but you definitely learn to do is what happens on the floor stays on the floor, and Sen. Cierpiot is going to be here for a number of years, I plan on being here another five years, so we’re going to have to find ways to work together,” he added.

However, Hoskins said he was not aware Cierpiot planned to make his speech Monday, much less that he had such strong concerns to begin with.

“Senator Cierpiot had not discussed with me some of his concerns beforehand, and so I was surprised when he read his statement on the floor denouncing the Conservative Caucus and conservative fiscal policies,” he said.

Cierpiot’s castigation of the group came after the Senate passed a massive infrastructure bonding resolution, a major legislative victory for Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz and Gov. Mike Parson that came to fruition after an overnight filibuster and a bit of compromise.

Cierpiot lambasts Senate’s Conservative Caucus, cites ‘inconsistencies’ with legislative priorities