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Missouri Gov. Mike Parson presents his state-of-the-union speech in the Senate Chamber.

Gov. Parson furious after being dissed by House Republican leadership

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson accused House leadership of a “disgusting scam” in a letter sent last Friday. The “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” called the letter “the most concrete evidence yet of a feud” between the governor and House Speaker Rob Vescovo.” The paper added, however, “lawmakers have played down the level of discontent” between the two.

House leadership reportedly denied Parson access to House chambers last Wednesday when he was scheduled to deliver the annual State of the State address before a joint legislative session, members of his cabinet, state officials and others. According to the “Missouri Independent,” “House leaders declined to allow the speech to go forward as originally planned after numerous” politicians and staff members tested positive for COVID-19. Parson said he had been told by the House leader that his address could proceed only in an empty chamber.

The annual ceremony was moved to the much smaller Senate Chamber where, according to a joint statement released by GOP legislative leadership, “attendees can meet CDC guidelines recommending six feet of social distancing.”

Parson’s letter alleged the decision was not rooted in public safety but rather an “insider stunt and petty show of arrogance and political power. It is hard to see this as anything other than a purposeful and disgusting scheme to embarrass me and the Office of the Governor.”

Parson referenced House members who had conducted packed committee hearings the day before his scheduled speech, where many attendees did not wear face coverings and social distancing was not practiced.

“I could not understand why House leadership would condone such an unsafe hearing while preventing the State of the State from moving forward,” Parson wrote. “We had taken every precautionary measure to limit unnecessary attendance, ensure social distancing and provide overflow viewing areas.”

According to “The Independent,” Parson “accused legislative staffers that he never names of trying to poison his relationship with the General Assembly to ‘benefit themselves, manipulate the truth and stay in power beyond the legislative term limits imposed on legislators they serve.’”

He condemned the “malicious intent” of House staffers who, Parson said, “actively went to work putting a political spin on the situation and insinuating that this was about my ego. I want you to know that we are all on the same team, and before this week, I would have never thought it was necessary to remind Republican members of that.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice