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Allies of Nieves holding 'prayer vigil' in Washington, Mo. riverfront park

Hometown supporters of embattled state Rep. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, Mo., are planning to hold a prayer vigil beginning at 6 p.m. this evening in Rennick Riverfront Park.

Nieves is telling allies that he didn't organize the event but does plan to attend. Allies say it is in response to the legal problems he faces as a result of an allegedly combative encounter in Nieves' office the day after he won the Aug. 3 GOP primary for the 26th District state Senate post.

Shawn Bell, a former top aide to one of Nieves' defeated rivals -- former Washington Mayor Richard Stratman -- contends that the legislator head-butted him, threatened him with a gun and made him partially strip when Bell stopped by Nieves' office to congratulate him. Bell and Nieves know each other from previous political dealings. (Click hereand here to read the Beacon's earlier stories detailing the controversy.)

A court hearing is set for Sept. 2 in Cole County Circuit Court in Jefferson City on Bell's request for a protective order against Nieves.

Washington authorities also have been investigating. But as of today, the Washington police have yet to turn over their findings to Franklin County Prosecutor Robert Parks, one of his aides said today. Parks is on vacation this week, she said, indicating there will be no action until Parks returns.

As a result, Bell's civil lawyer -- Alan Mandel -- said he may delay filing a civil suit until Parks announces whether he plans to level any criminal charges against Nieves.

All of this comes as Missouri's Republican legislative leaders are seeking to discourage the type of intense intra-party battles such as the 26th District fight for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. John Griesheimer, R-Washington, because of term limits. Griesheimer backed Stratman and made no secret of his disdain for Nieves.


Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.