JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri state representatives are calling on state Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, to resign following a comment on Facebook in which she said she hoped President Donal Trump would be assassinated.
The senator had posted the comment on a Facebook conversation in response to another commenter, Christopher Gagne, who wrote about a cousin of his who he said was on Trump’s Secret Service detail.
“No. I will. I hope Trump is assassinated,” she wrote in response to the comment.
— Mark Reardon (@MarkReardonKMOX) August 17, 2017
Chappelle-Nadal confirmed that she had posted the comment, which was later deleted, telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she didn’t mean what she had put up.
Her comments come from her frustration over the events in Charlottesville, Va., in which an alleged white supremacist protester struck a number of counter-protesters with a vehicle, killing one woman.
President Donald Trump’s reaction to the event has been the center of some controversy, as he ascertained in a speech that both sides of the protests were to be blamed for the violence.
Rep. Kirk Mathews called out the state senator on Twitter, saying her comments were “disgusting” and that she should be ashamed.
The Missouri Times spoke with Rep. Mathews on Thursday regarding his response to the senator’s comment.
“It’s disgusting for anyone to call for the assassination of a President,” Mathews said. “In a time when everyone is crying for more and more calm and less violence, we have a senator say she hopes for the assassination of a president. I think that’s beyond ridiculous. For anyone to do that, it’s horrible. But for a sitting state senator to post that, I’m disgusted by it.”
The situation has only seemed to grow in intensity, as a letter circulated by Rep. Joshua Peters, D-St. Louis, called on Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, the Chairman of the Committee on Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions, and Ethics, to convene a special committee hearing to consider the censure and removal of Chappelle-Nadal. That committee’s job to look into matters of ethics and the conduct of public officials.
“I believe her conduct to be reprehensible and unbecoming a member of the Missouri State Senate. While many can disagree with the actions or words of an elected official, we cannot tolerate calls for violence nor acts of treason. Even if the individual does not contemplate acting upon their own words, those words can inspire others to violence and acts of terrorism. Elected public officials must exhibit a higher standard of conduct,” Peters wrote. “Her comments have become a source of embarrassment nationally for the Missouri General Assembly and the State of Missouri and the citizens of the State of Missouri.”
Missouri Democratic Party Chair Stephen Webber called the senator’s comments “indefensible” and said he believed she should resign. U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill also condemned the statement, calling it “outrageous.”
St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger similarly disapproved.
“Hate speech is not okay, no matter who says it. Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal’s comment today was wrong and reprehensible. No person should wish death upon another, no matter the differences. This has no place in our country or our politics. I am saddened by the rhetoric being used in our political area today.
The President’s defense of white-nationalists and neo-Nazis is disgusting, and we must not stand for this in our country. Now is the time to listen to each other and build a stronger and united America.”
Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh condemned Chappelle-Nadal’s statement.
“I strongly condemn and disavow Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal’s horrible comments. Promoting, supporting or suggesting violence against anyone, especially our elected leaders, is never acceptable,” Walsh said. “There is too much rancor and hate in today’s political discourse, and Sen. Chappelle-Nadal should be ashamed of herself for adding her voice to this toxic environment. Sen. Chappelle-Nadal’s unacceptable behavior has no place in our caucus, the Capitol, or the Democratic Party. Let me be clear, her views in no way represent the constituents of the 14th District or the great State of Missouri.”
Former state representative Sharon Pace is currently running to fill Sen. Chappelle’s vacant seat in 2018, as the Democratic senator will be term-limited.
“The statement didn’t really need to have been made, for one, and it’s disturbing. It puts a dim light on the Party as a whole, and we don’t believe in that type of a statement, or harming anyone,” Pace said. “I’m just shocked it was even said. We have so much hatred going on in the world, and we just need to stop. Enough is enough. I condemn it as well, I don’t condone that type of conversation or that kind of hatred.”
The Missouri Times also reached out to Sen. Chappelle-Nadal, but has not received any response at this time.
“I refuse to resign for exercising my First Amendment rights, even though what I said was wrong,” she told the Associated Press.
President Trump had been rumored to be visiting Missouri for the total eclipse, but according to the Kansas City Star, he will not be attending.
*This article has been updated to include the letter from Rep. Peters.
Statements continued to roll in throughout the evening.
Senate Leader Ron Richard: “As I said earlier today, I fully support the strong statement made by Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh condemning the comments from Sen. Chappelle-Nadal. Those types of threatening statements will not be tolerated in the Senate, and I believe she should resign.”
Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe: “In a time when we should be calling for peace, promoting violence of any kind is unacceptable, and I’m asking her to resign from her position.”
House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty: “Suggestions of violence have no place in our political discourse, and an elected official who expresses hope for someone’s murder has forfeited the right to hold office. Given state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal’s repugnant social media post suggesting the president should be assassinated, she must resign.”
Missouri Federation of College Republicans: “The Missouri Federation of College Republicans has called on State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, of University City, to resign after her recent Facebook comment, which expressed her hope for an attempt on the life of President Trump.
‘In America, we take care of our political differences at the ballot box, not through violence,’ said MOCR Chairman Dallas Ernst. ‘This should be an issue that all Republicans and Democrats agree on.’
MOCR condemns all acts and statements which call for violence to be carried out against any elected official. These kinds of comments are only meant to harm the unity that makes America a great nation. Therefore, MOCR demands the resignation of Senator Chappelle-Nadal.”
Rep. Kirk Mathews: “It’s completely unacceptable for an elected official to act in this way and to use inflammatory rhetoric that encourages violence and hatred. Calling for the assassination of the president is disgusting and not at all the kind of behavior that Missourians expect and deserve from one of their public servants. By fostering hate speech she has proven herself unfit for office and it is clear it is in the best interests of her constituents and our state that she resign immediately.”
Benjamin Peters was a reporter for The Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine and also produced 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.