St. Louis Public Radio News
5:29 pm
Tue April 28, 2009

Attempt to reprimand Mo. GOP House Member fails

Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri House Ethics Committee has refused to condemn a Republican lawmaker from St. Joseph for remarks he made comparing so-called "big government health care" to slavery.

On March 25th, State Representative Rob Schaaf (R, St. Joseph) was speaking against a proposed expansion of government-run health care during debate on the state budget. Here is part of what he said.

"They want them to stop paying it, and expect all the other taxpayers to pay it, (even though) they're completely capable of doing it, and Mr. Speaker, that is slavery!"

House Democrats filed a remonstrance, or reprimand, against Schaaf, calling his remarks "deeply offensive" in light of Missouri's history as a slave state.

State Representative Trent Skaggs (D, Kansas City) sponsored the motion.

"When we try to change history, and we try to make light of one of the most tragic points of our history, I think it deserve a remonstrance," Skaggs said.

Democrats also objected to Schaaf's refusal to apologize for his remarks in a letter to the editor to the St. Joseph News-Press.

But Republican lawmakers argued that lots of quotes on the House floor are offensive to somebody, and that if each one resulted in a complaint being filed, the Ethics Commission would be meeting 24 hours a day.

The proposed reprimand against Schaaf was voted down six to four, with one Democrat joining Republicans in voting "no."

Schaaf didn't attend the hearing, but was quoted as saying the issue essentially made a mountain out of a molehill.