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Missouri Senate removes Chappelle-Nadal from committees; expulsion still looms

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, right, and candidate Bill Haas, center, speak as state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal answers a question.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, speaks during a 2016 candidate forum for candidates in the 1st Congressional District.

Missouri’s Senate leadership made the rare move of stripping Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal of her committee assignments on Tuesday.

It’s because of a Facebook comment she posted and later deleted last week that hoped for President Donald Trump’s assassination. She has resisted numerous calls from Republicans and Democrats, including Gov. Eric Greitens and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, to step down.

In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh, D-Bellefontaine Neighbors, said Chappelle-Nadal was kicked off because “it is important that the Missouri Senate conducts their work without distractions.”

Chappelle-Nadal served on nine committees, including ones dealing with education, the judicial system and health and pensions.

“This will help to ensure the success of the Senate, and the state, going forward,” Walsh said.

Chappelle-Nadal said in a text message to St. Louis Public Radio that she “was previously aware this was a consideration.” She didn’t return a phone call or text message seeking further comment.

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, did the removal as the leader of the chamber. He said he supported Walsh’s decision.

This is the first time in recent memory a senator has been stripped of all committee assignments. In 2007, then-Senate President Pro Tem Mike Gibbons took away a committee chairmanship form then-Sen. John Loudon, R-Chesterfield, after he placed language in a bill legalizing midwifery.

Chappelle-Nadal apologized on Sunday to Trump, her legislative colleagues and the people of Missouri for the Facebook comment.

“... I made a mistake. And I’m owning up to it. And I am not ever going to mistake like that again,” she said.

She did not address the possible efforts to expel her from the Senate, which could come during September’s veto session. Republican Lt. Gov. Mike Parson sent aletter, dated Tuesday, to the Missouri Senate, asking for the chamber to go into special session "in conjunction with veto session" to remove her. 

"I realize what I am asking is nearly unprecedented," Parson said. "The Senate has not sought to remove a member since 1945. However, in a situation like this, we as a body have a responsibility to hold ourselves to a higher standard and draw a line against these inexcusable actions."

It would take 23 senators to remove her from office, and Republicans control 24 seats.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.