Capitol grapples with what to do about Sen. Chappelle-Nadal

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JEFFERSON CITY - The process of determining what should happen to a Missouri senator is underway. 

Lt. Gov. Mike Parson sent a letter Tuesday to Missouri Senators calling for a special session to expel Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis, from the legislative body. This comes after she wrote on Facebook she hopes President Donald Trump will be assassinated. 

“I don't believe she deserves to stay in the Senate after making such a comment as that,” Parson said.

Last week, Sen. Chappelle-Nadal wrote on Facebook, “I hope Trump is assassinated!” Parson said this is the first he’s ever heard of such a statement coming from an elected official. 

“When you're in the position of a state Senator, what you say matters and unfortunately what she said was wrong," he said. " And I mean, to the highest degree and there’s consequences for her action and I think she needs to be held responsible for that.” 

But this isn't the first time the Missouri Senate has had to hold an expulsion proceedings to remove a Senator. Parson said it happened in 1945. 

“I don't know how you could serve as an equal once you've said something like that,” Parson said. “Cause I don't believe, no matter where you are in the state of Missouri, that’s something that we believe in and that we expect elected officials to do those kind of things and I think you've gotta be responsible for that.” 

Rep. Joshua Peters, D-St. Louis, said he believes a special session is necessary.

“The Senator has a history of very unworthy behavior in the state of Missouri,” Peters said. “She’s brought dishonor to our general assembly, she’s brought dishonor to our community and to our state.”

Peters said he was not surprised when Chappelle-Nadal made the comment online.  

“She has a history of very vulgar and disrespectful language that has come out of her mouth,” Peters said. “You may recall back during the Ferguson situation, Sen. Chappelle-Nadal actually said, “F you” to Gov. Jay Nixon, which was completely out of line and unacceptable and she should have been disciplined then. Maybe this would not have happened.”

Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said he hopes she will resign.

“I think it will be a distraction,” Rowden said. “It will continue to be a distraction as long as she’s there. So, I think in the name of good governance, in the name of us being able to kind of move on and take care of some business it’s really important for the state. I hope she does that. If she doesn't support that route, I would support taking some additional action to go down that road.”

Sen. Paul Wieland, R-Jefferson County, also thinks a special session is needed. 

“She’s always been controversial,” he said. “I think this is several levels above than what she’s done in the past.”

However, Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, said having a special session now, while not in session, is unnecessary. 

“I think the idea that we would remove her as the person that represents her district is something that I don't believe necessarily makes sense for this body to do,” Schupp said. “She has retracted her statement and apologized for it and people make mistakes even though sometimes there really pretty bad ones. We're all human and I think the best we can do is when we say the wrong thing, or post the wrong thing. When we immediately recognize that and retract it and then apologize I think that explosion is a step too far.”  

Schupp said the Senator’s comment went too far.

“She’s been outspoken and sometimes in very extreme kinds of ways, in ways that I disapproved of unquestionably,” Schupp said. “I think this time was a further crossing of that line. I'm a little surprise by it. But the way she’s talked about people in the past, maybe none of us should have been.” 

Schupp said censuring would be a more appropriate action to take rather than expelling her completely. 

“That’s where I stand right now, unless the FBI gives me reason to believe that her intention was to incite someone to take action," Schupp said. "I think she was just sort of being a loose cannon in the most horrific of ways.”

Parson has asked for the special session to be in conjunction with upcoming veto session.