JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Calls for the resignation of Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis, continue to grow throughout the state following her comment regarding the assassination of President Donald Trump, but members of Missouri’s executive branch are now calling on the Senate to oust one of their own.
“I’m calling on Sen. Chappelle-Nadal to do the right thing and resign from her office. However, if she does not do so by veto session, I will, in my position as President of the Missouri Senate, immediately seek for the expulsion pursuant to Article III, Section 18 of the Missouri Constitution,” Lt. Gov Mike Parson said during a press conference Friday afternoon. “This is not a decision that was made lightly. I believe Sen. Chappelle-Nadal’s remarks and her unwillingness to take responsibility for what she said make it clear that she is no longer fit to serve our state.”
As a former state senator and a member of law enforcement, Parson called her comments troubling, a violation of the principles of the state and conduct unbecoming of an elected official.
“She may have been very angry when she wrote those words, but anger is not a valid excuse,” Parson said. “The thing we have to remember is that once you do it, there are consequences for your actions, and this senator will be held responsible for her actions.”
Parson said he cannot say whether the remarks meet the standard required for prosecution under federal law, as that is up to the authorities currently investigating the situation. He said he will be seeking a legal opinion from the Attorney General’s Office to ensure that Article III will apply to the situation.
“Senator Chappelle-Nadal said she hopes the President is killed. Republicans and Democrats have called on her to resign. Her response: “Hell no.” Last night, in an interview, she refused to apologize—twice,” Republican Governor Eric Greitens said in a statement issued Friday morning. “If she will not resign, the Senate can vote to remove her. I believe they should.”
The embattled state senator, however, has made it clear that she has no intentions of resigning, posting the following message on Facebook Friday morning.
“Out of anger and frustration, I said something that could have been reframed. And I refuse to shy away from the hypocrisy and chaos our country is enduring under Trump,” she said. “Please keep fighting on my behalf on social media. Know that I refuse to give up. I’m not turning my back on you ever! The others have done so, but I will never do that to you. Thank you again. In solidarity.”
If the senator does not resign, then the only move to be made would be for the Senate to try and remove her under state law, as the Lt. Gov. suggested.
Parson, however, cannot make that motion himself, as the President of the Senate, but says he will seek the senators’ help.
“I would definitely ask the senators to make whatever procedural motions need to be done,” he said. He says he has not had any discussions at to who may make that move, saying that he had only been in contact with members of both sides of the aisle to tell them of his intention to call for her expulsion.
“I won’t get into the nuts and bolts of procedure,” he said. “I think if you look at Article III, Section 18 of the Constitution, it will tell you how that process works.”
“We hope Sen. Chappelle-Nadal realizes the seriousness of her statements, takes responsibility for her words, and resigns on her own accord. However, we are preparing for options afforded in the Missouri Constitution and the Senate Rules if she continues to defy the public outcry and not resign,” Senate Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said in a statement.
“We have heard the calls from the Governor and the Lt. Governor, and remain firmly convinced she should resign on her own. Failing to do so, we do have options to ensure the integrity of the Senate,”Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said. “The process of expulsion is a significant, rarely used step that should not be taken lightly. We are researching the detailed steps involved in the expulsion process and will be prepared to move forward as necessary.”
As for the law in question, Article III, Section 18 reads as follows:
Appointment of officers of houses–jurisdiction to determine membership–power to make rules, punish for contempt and disorderly conduct and expel members.
Section 18. Each house shall appoint its own officers; shall be sole judge of the qualifications, election and returns of its own members; may determine the rules of its own proceedings, except as herein provided; may arrest and punish by fine not exceeding three hundred dollars, or imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding ten days, or both, any person not a member, who shall be guilty of disrespect to the house by any disorderly or contemptuous behavior in its presence during its sessions; may punish its members for disorderly conduct; and, with the concurrence of two-thirds of all members elect, may expel a member; but no member shall be expelled a second time for the same cause.
Source: Const. of 1875, Art. IV, § 17.
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.