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St. Louis County lawmaker pulled off statehouse committees over social media posts

Rep. Sarah Unsicker, D-Shrewsbury, speaks at a House committee hearing.
Tim Bommel
/
Missouri House of Representatives
Rep. Sarah Unsicker, D-Shrewsbury, speaks at a House committee hearing. Unsicker was stripped Thursday of her committee assignments by House Minority Leader Crystal Quade.

A Missouri state House representative from St. Louis County has been stripped of her committee assignments as a rebuke over social media posts showing herself with a government conspiracy theorist who's accused of being a Holocaust denier.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, announced Thursday that Rep. Sarah Unsicker, D-Shrewsbury, will no longer serve on committees, including Children and Families, where she was the ranking minority member. This means Unsicker will not be able to provide input on bills while they are in the committee phase.

In a statement, Quade said Unsicker was proven to be a “strong advocate for society’s vulnerable” but had recently used social media to promote individuals “who espouse baseless conspiracies and racist and anti-Semitic ideologies that are antithetical to the values of inclusiveness, tolerance and respect House Democrats are dedicated to upholding.”

On Monday, Unsicker posted on X that she had met with Charles Johnson and Eric Garland “over basil lemonades in Webster Groves yesterday.”

Johnson made a name for himself in the mid-2010s. The Washington Post, Politico and Mother Jones have described Johnson as a right-wing internet troll who was eventually banned from Twitter after asking for funds to “take out” a Black Lives Matter supporter active in Ferguson. He told Politico in 2018 that before being booted from Twitter, he repeatedly used the n-word to study the site’s algorithms.

The Anti-Defamation League includes Johnson on its list of Holocaust deniers, citing comments he made in 2017 on Reddit in which he doubted the number of Jews killed and whether the Auschwitz concentration camp is real. He told Politico that he is not a Holocaust denier.

Garland, who has nearly 300,000 followers on X, regularly posts about government conspiracies.

In a statement on Friday, Unsicker said she was confused by Quade’s actions.

“I have not been offered any explanation of how my behavior was different from my typical behavior, including my refusal to respond to slanderous representations about others,” Unsicker said.

Unsicker also posted an email she addressed to Quade asking for copies of “any and all complaints to which a response is requested or for which action will be taken that you have received against me, whether they be formally filed charges or informal complaints.”

Unsicker said she will not discuss what is happening until she gets a response to her email.

Unsicker may also lose her place in the House Democratic Caucus. The statement issued by Quade said the caucus is evaluating Unsicker’s future as a member.

Quade, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, referred to her statement when asked for further comment.

Unsicker has served seven years in the Missouri House. She is running to be Missouri’s next attorney general.

Sarah Kellogg is a Missouri Statehouse and Politics Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state.