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No punishment for Warren Love over controversial Facebook post

A state representative from rural Missouri won’t face any punishment for a controversial Facebook post he made last summer.

The House Ethics Committee considered sanctions against Rep. Warren Love, R-Osceola, for a Facebook post in which he said vandals who defaced a Confederate monument should be “hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”

Love maintains that his comments were just “cowboy jargon.”

“I’m not admitting I did anything wrong,” he said. “(But) I am admitting that I made a statement that was taken out of context and offended certain people that took it to mean something that it did not mean. And I’m sorry for that.”

House Democrats said Love’s comments can be interpreted as promoting lynching of African-Americans.

“Rep. Love disingenuously claims that he never called for a lynching because he never used (that) word,” said Rep. Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City. “If for lunch you have a grilled ground beef patty with a slice of melted cheese on top, served on a bun, you’re eating a cheeseburger, regardless of whether you choose to call it that.”

While still saying he did nothing wrong, Love initially agreed to accept any discipline the House Ethics committee might levy. Later in the meeting the committee voted 6 to 4 to issue a written reprimand and to strip him of his committee assignments. Love then changed his mind and rejected the reprimand, which he had the power to do under House committee rules.

Rep. Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis, then sponsored a motion to appoint an investigatory committee to further look into Love’s actions surrounding the Facebook post. It failed on a 5 to 5 tie vote, after which the hearing was adjourned.

Democrats on the committee were angered by Love’s reversal after first agreeing to accept punishment. But he told reporters afterward that he was confused about what the committee had asked of him and on what kinds of discipline they could impose.

“I should have said ‘no;’ me and my (attorney) were somewhat confused,” Love said. “Listen, I’m confused, they’re confused, and I can’t honestly tell a one of you what happened.”

Committee members did stand at ease for several minutes and privately discussed the situation before reconvening and discussing their options.

Mitten hopes that House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, will now take it upon himself to punish Love.

“Every single thing that I recommended in all of my motions, which is the removal from all committees, is something that the Speaker could have done immediately,” she said. “(He) could have done (it) in August, could have done (it) in September, October, November, December, and can still do in January or February.”

Richardson has not responded yet to our request for comment.

Follow Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

Copyright 2020 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit .

Marshall Griffin is the Statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.
Marshall Griffin
St. Louis Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a native of Mississippi and proud alumnus of Ole Miss (welcome to the SEC, Mizzou!). He has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off an old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Liberty Belle, and their cat, Honey.
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