House moves forward with complaint against Warren Love

The Missouri House Ethics Committee on Monday agreed to set public hearings on a complaint against a state representative accused of writing a racially insensitive Facebook post. (Garrett Bergquist)

A House panel on Monday agreed to advance an ethics complaint against a state representative under fire for a social media post.

Rep. Warren Love, R-Osceola, drew criticism at the end of August for posting on Facebook that he hoped those responsible for vandalizing a Confederate monument at Springfield National Cemetery would be "hung from a tall tree with a long rope." Missouri's Legislative Black Caucus at the time said Love's comments called to mind extrajudicial killings of black Missourians.

On Monday afternoon, the House Ethics Committee voted to move forward with an ethics complaint filed against Love by House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City. Today's procedural vote sets the stage for hearings on the complaint itself, to be held at a later date. Beatty said she is dissatisfied with Love's public statements on the matter thus far, calling them half-hearted.

"I just don't think we can keep making excuses and say, that's the way he is," she said. "It's time for us to say this is not tolerated, we're not going to have it."

Love said he wrote the post because he was upset that vandals had defaced a monument at a veterans' cemetery and called his choice of words crude. He said people interpreted his words differently than what he intended. Love has apologized publicly and said he has privately apologized to several members of the black caucus.

"I did not mention race, gender or age when I called that out," he said. "To me, it was a crime and it's worthy of a penalty, I guess you would say, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

Committee chair Mike Cierpiot's office said a public hearing on the matter will be held sometime in November, but an exact date hasn't yet been set.

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