St. Louis Public Radio News
5:57 am
Thu February 12, 2009

St. Louis lawmaker denied committee seat

Jefferson City, MO – Missouri House Speaker Ron Richard (R, Joplin) is standing firm on his decision not to reappoint a St. Louis Democrat as the ranking minority member on the Children and Families Committee.

Jeanette Mott Oxford served on the committee for four years, and says she doesn't know why the new House Speaker chose not to reappoint her.

"The only thing that's been offered was this initial statement that some members find me highly offensive...now that's been denied that that was said since then, but I trust that the people that heard it really heard it," Oxford said.

Oxford is the first openly gay woman to serve in the Missouri House.

Richard wouldn't say why he didn't name Oxford to the Children & Families committee. But he called the notion that any House member would be offended by Oxford's presence on that committee silly.

Richard also denied that Oxford's sexual orientation had anything to do with her not being reappointed.

"For the tenth time here...I've tried to be bipartisan, I've given those guys (Democrats) more staff, more offices...we've given 20 some-odd committees where they have the ability to appoint whoever they want, but at the end of the day I am in charge...I want the House to go in a certain direction, and I will appoint who I want," Richard said.

Despite being denied a seat on the committee, Oxford will still coordinate House Democrats' efforts related to children and family issues.