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Montee says campaign won't be affected by media 'circus'' involving her children

This articlr first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 5, 2011 - A municipal court date has been set for Dec. 30 in St. Joseph for the three adult children of former Missouri state auditor/state Democratic Party chair Susan Montee, following an altercation with police outside a bar on Thanksgiving night.

Montee says the incident was "a huge misunderstanding" that stemmed from her children being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Her daughter, Amanda Montee, was assaulted by another bar attendee, Montee said.

Montee, who is running for lieutenant governor, said in an interview that her campaign won't be affected by the incident and that she laments that it already has attracted so much public attention.

Two of her children, Austin and Amanda, are back at college. Her daughter, a law student at Washington University, also is dealing with the painful effects of a concussion, Montee said. Andrew Montee is a recent college graduate and has been assisting his mother's campaign.

According to Montee, her children and other relatives had walked up the street from Montee's home to the bar, about a half-block away, late on the night of Thanksgiving. They immediately ran into an unknown group of people outside the bar who were engaging in a street fight, which already had attracted police.

Montee said her relatives sought to leave immediately. But in the confusion, daughter Amanda Montee got separated from the others. Her mother says that Amanda then was assaulted by several women she did not know, who pulled her into any alley and started kicking her.

Amanda called her brothers on her cell phone and approached a policeman. The policeman thought she was one of the original fighters, told her to leave and then pepper-sprayed her, Montee said.

Her two sons showed up at that point, came to the aid of their sister, and were pepper-sprayed as well, Montee said. All were taken into custody. All were charged with municipal offenses.

Capt. Kevin Castle with the St. Joseph police department called the episode "no big deal," and said the Montee children were arrested and charged "for failing to comply with directions" to disperse.

"There was a large fight in the street," Castle said. "The streets were blocked."

None of the Montee children was charged with fighting, Castle said. "They weren't being arrested for the melee itself. They were arrested for failing to disperse."

All told, seven people were arrested in connection with the incident.

Castle confirmed that Amanda Montee did subsequently file a police report about the alleged attack that caused her injuries. At the police station, said Castle, Montee's initial only visible injury was "a minor scrape to her scalp."

Susan Montee said that a physician subsequently determined that her daughter had suffered a concussion, which has caused her daughter pain and headaches.

"This was a horrible misunderstanding that I am not going to criticize the police over," said Susan Montee, a lawyer.

Montee added, though, that she was distressed that political opponents and some members of the press portrayed the incident as a case where her children had done something wrong.

"It's hard to watch somewhat of a circus around your children," she said. "It's a horrible example of what happens to children of people in public life (and) a sad commentary on what our political figures have to do deal with."

Even so, Montee said the episode won't disrupt her candidacy.

Montee has faced such embarrassing scrutiny before. Montee lost her bid for re-election as state auditor in 2010, during a campaign in which some opponents posted on the internet a hidden video of her taken as she socialized during a statewide Democratic gathering.

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.

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