No punishment for Rep. Warren Love after controversial Facebook post

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- "Unfortunately because Representative Love decided to go back on the word that he gave to this committee under oath, there will not be a punishment contained in the report issued by this committee," Rep. Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis, told reporters after a nearly two-and-a-half hour ethics hearing over a Facebook post by Representative Warren Love, R-Osceola, in August.

The post was referencing the vandalization of a confederate statue at the Springfield National Cemetery.

In the post, Love said he hoped the criminal would be "hung from a tall tree with a long rope."

Some referred to it as lynching.

"Vandalism is against the law, but so is lynching," said Rep. Gail McCann Beatty, D- Kansas City. "It is not appropriate to respond to one crime by hoping that a far worse crime is committed."

But, Love says there is a difference.

"I did not use the word lynching. And, I will ask you: is there a difference, dictionary, between lynching and hanging?," Love asked the Ethics Committee.

Love says his post was a "colloquial expression" and he didn't mean it literally.

"Did you mean to literally go out and get whoever committed the crime, because we don't know who committed it, incite a mob, go out and get them, and literally hang or lynch them," asked Rep. Stephen Lynch, R-Waynesville.

"Absolutely not," Love responded.

Per procedural rule, Love said he would accept any punishment the committee decided upon. A motion to censure and remove him from his three committees failed 5-5.

But then the committee voted to recommend to the Speaker of the House Representative to decide if Love should be reprimanded and removed from his three committees.

That vote passed 6-4, but Love back tracked and said he wouldn't accept that punishment.

Andrew Havranek: So, you're saying had you known you could've been removed from committees from the get go...

Rep. Love: "I would have said no. That is correct."

Havranek: So, you were given not enough information before you made the decision to say yes?

Rep. Love: "I didn't understand the process."

"If he's unable to look at those rules when it pertains specifically to him, how well is he able to understand the rules when it pertains to legislation that is being passed on to other matters," asked Mitten.

The committee has 45 days to send their report from the hearing to House Speaker, Rep. Todd Richardson, Poplar Bluff, who will then decide if any disciplinary action will be taken.

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