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Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal with conservative political activist Foster Friess. The two met to discuss a way forward that included civility.
Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal with conservative political activist Foster Friess. The two met to discuss a way forward that included civility.

After assassination comments, senator seeks redemption

Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal seeks President Trump’s forgiveness and hopes to work with him

By Dwight Widaman | Metrovoicenews.com

On Thursday morning, August 17, Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-St. Louis County) awoke from what she says was a “nightmare, a rare occurrence for me.” What followed after became a political nightmare and firestorm in the news statewide and nationally.

It began when another Facebook user stated his cousin was in the Secret Service under Presidents Obama and Trump. That user had posted, “what I posted earlier, I truly believe will happen, sooner…not later.” One minute later the Senator posted, “No. I will. I hope Trump is assassinated!”

She quickly deleted that post, but not before it was screen saved, releasing a flurry of state and national press coverage. Missouri Governor Eric Grietens, Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson, US Senator Claire McCaskill of her own Party and other members of Congress and the Missouri Senate and House of Representatives called for her resignation. The United States Secret Service confirmed the next day that they were investigating.

Three days later on August 20, Chappelle-Nadal held a press conference at Wellspring Church in Ferguson. She began by saying, “I stand accused, rightfully, because I made a mistake.” She further stated, “I am a servant of God and the people I represent, and I failed them both recently.”

Chappelle-Nadal said she was reminded of the kindness that has been afforded to people, like her, that have made mistakes and that we are all human beings and none of us are perfect. She then said, “President Trump, I apologize to you and your family. I also apologized to all of the people in Missouri and to my colleagues in the Missouri Legislature for the mistake that I made.”

She ended the press conference by saying, “I made a mistake and I’m owning up to it and I am not ever going to make a mistake like that again and I have learned my lesson.” With no sign of Chappelle-Nadal resigning, on August 22 Parson called for the launch of a special legislative session to expel Chappelle-Nadal from office in September.

Chappelle-Nadal served six years in the Missouri House of Representative and, due to term limits, is nearing her eighth and final year in the Missouri Senate. If expelled, she would be the first member of the Missouri Senate to be Constitutionally removed–something that would require a two-thirds majority vote.

On Sunday, August 27, Chappelle-Nadal received a visit from investor and conservative political activist Foster Friess. He was a major donor to Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign, and has been promoting a Return to Civility campaign at fosterfriess.com. It urges people to “grab a cup of coffee with someone you don’t agree” and calling for civil dialogue. The website suggests, “Democrats to invite Republicans, young and old, black and white−get to know someone with whom you don’t agree.” Friess is even offering $25 to the first 1000 Americans who share their story with the hash tag #return2civility on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Friess reached out to her for a personal meeting. Afterwards, she described him as “a very kind and gracious man” and told the Metro Voice that he said he forgave her for her comments about President Trump.

She tweeted that day that she and Friess talked about trauma and what she experienced during the events in Ferguson in 2014 plus other issues including a return to civility in politics, education and school choice, the plight of single parent families and their mutual Christian faith.

The legislator spoke with Metro Voice with an obvious contrite heart. She described the last two weeks as a “traumatic process” brought on by her mistake, which she calls “humbling and corrective.”

“After much prayer and counsel from my pastor, Mr. Friess and other spiritual and political advisors,” she said. “I am seeking to defuse any potential conflicts and respond in an opposite spirit and seek forgiveness redemption, reconciliation and unity, even with President Trump.”

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“It has been a learning process that has led to much reflection and personal growth for me and a change of tone. With God’s help and the instruction of Scripture and encouragement from wonderful people like Foster Friess and others, I want to seek a higher and better way that is redemptive,” she shared. “My Judge and Jury is Jesus Christ.”

As of press deadline, Chappelle-Nadal told the Metro Voice that in the follow-up to her meeting with Friess, she emailed an official letter of apology to President Trump on August 29. In it she sought forgiveness and offered an olive branch to work with him on issues in which they share common goals to oppose racism, hate and bigotry and promote national reconciliation and unity.

Metro Voice asked her how she would respond to critics who might question her sincerity and wonder if this is just a play to save her job. Noting that Foster Friess sought a meeting with her, she said, “Through repentance, I have realized that to oppose racism, hate and bigotry and effect change, we need to come together. Republicans, including President Trump, and Democrats like me, all want racial healing. Division gets us nowhere. Reconciliation and unity is the pathway.”

In a follow-up written statement to the Metro Voice Chappelle-Nadal wrote: “I have been anti-Trump on issues, but I’m offering my time and committing in prayer to work with those with whom I disagree and be respectful in doing so. My mom taught me it is better to strengthen a relationship through commonalities than through hatred. I have not been right in my spirit. I’ve had hate in my heart. The only way to be forgiven is to change my ways. That’s where prayer and true repentance come in.”

It remains to be seen how Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal’s Mea Culpa or “acknowledgement of her fault or error” will play out and if and how she will demonstrate the fruits of repentance (Matthew 3:8). If she makes good on her change of heart, it would represent a ”road to Damascus” moment from her past rhetoric and could be a powerful game-changer in the state and national conversation on race, hate and bigotry.

 

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