JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Rep. Jeremy LaFaver, D-Kansas City, has stated he does not intend to resign his seat in the House after his arrest on Sunday on charges of failing to appear in court and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
LaFaver, a first-term representative, chaired the House Democrat Victory Committee, the campaign arm of the House Democrats, until his resignation from the Committee was officially accepted by Minority Leader Jacob Hummel, D-St. Louis, earlier today. Sources at the committee told The Missouri Times that Hummel would be replacing LaFaver during the interim time until a replacement is announced.
The Missouri Republican Party also issued a statement calling on LaFaver to resign his House seat. The Missouri Times was unable to locate any elected Republican officials who echoed the call for resignation, and a statement by Republican House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, while critical of LaFaver’s actions, didn’t completely call for resignation.
“Rep. LaFaver should first decide whether or not he can continue to effectively represent the citizens of his District given the nature of this incident,” Jones said in a written statement. “I would advise him to seek counsel from the leaders of his party and his caucus such as Attorney General Koster and Minority Leader Hummel. These two individuals first need to decide what if any action needs to be taken.”
Additionally Jones confirmed that because of the misdemeanor offense, LaFaver’s seat in the House of Representatives wasn’t legally jeopardized. He said felonies are legally jeopardizing for a seat.
LaFaver issued a statement last night apologizing for his behavior and promising to take responsibility for his actions. He was arrested on the drive home to Kansas City from the summer caucus of the Democratic Party in St. Louis. According to the Highway Patrol, troopers were alerted to LaFaver’s vehicle by an automated license plate scanner that identified the vehicle and the driver for having unpaid tickets in Moniteau County. The failure to pay the tickets and subsequent failure to show up in court created a warrant, which troopers were executing when they stopped LaFaver and found a small amount of marijuana and a pipe in his car.
While the Missouri GOP was quick to demand LaFaver’s resignation, the Missouri Democratic Party has yet to issue a statement on the matter and the state party office has not responded to requests for a comment. Members from both sides, however, have been willing to support LaFaver.
Republican Steve Tilley, former Speaker of the House, said he didn’t think LaFaver should be forced out because of the incident.
“In my time as Floor Leader and Speaker we had representatives who got in trouble sometimes,” Tilley told The Missouri Times. “But he is totally owning up to it and I’m sure he’ll come back a better person, I’m also a firm believer that everyone deserves a second chance.”
Rep. Jay Swearingen, a Democrat from Kansas City, tweeted:
John Payne, Exectuive Director of Show Me Cannibis, a pro-marijuana organization, is a member of the Republican party and said he hopes that Democrats stand by LaFaver and use the opportunity to raise the issue of marijuana decriminalization. He also said he hoped Republicans didn’t use the issue to paint LaFaver “with an ugly brush.”
Rep. Steve Webb, D-Florissant, said it wasn’t up to any politician to decide LaFaver’s fate.
“He’s a very good man and a good friend,” Webb said. “I think it’s the right of his constituents to decide if this is going to affect their vote, I think it’s up to the people in his district to decide if they care about this and if he can still serve them, so I differ to the people in his district.”
Webb, however, said he didn’t believe it was the time to discuss marijuana law, and does not personally favor decriminalization.
Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City, a longtime advocate for marijuana law reform also supported LaFaver’s continued service in the House, but declined further discussing marijuana laws today.
“We must keep in mind that people are innocent until proven guilty and secondly he was charged with the most minor of charges,” Ellinger said. “While this is regrettable they should not stop a young man from having a productive and happy life. I don’t think he’s done something serious enough to warrant barring him from serving in the House of Representatives in Missouri.”
LaFaver’s fellow freshman representative, Michael Butler, D-St. Louis, also told The Missouri Times that LaFaver should remain in his seat.
“Representative LaFaver was a leader in our caucus during session,” Butler said. “He was a leader before this weekend’s incident and he will continue to be a leader for years to come.”
Collin Reischman is the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. To contact Collin, email email@example.com or via Twitter at @CMReischman