Missouri senator protests punishment for wearing overalls
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri state senator punished for wearing overalls on the Senate floor blocked any work from getting done Tuesday in protest.
Republican Sen. Mike Moon, a candidate for U.S. Congress who once videotaped himself gutting a chicken to make a political point, filibustered to stop even administrative tasks from moving forward.
Moon read a book on prisoners of war before the Senate adjourned for the day without taking action.
Earlier this month, Moon wore denim overalls paired with a jacket and tie on the Senate floor amid a tense, ongoing fight between the Conservative Caucus, of which Moon is a member, and other Republicans over redistricting.
There’s no formal rule against wearing overalls on the Missouri Senate floor. But many unwritten rules have become fiercely defended “traditions,” including the expectation that senators dress professionally.
Republican Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz pulled almost all of Moon’s committee assignments in response. Moon still serves on the only Democratic-led Senate committee.
Schatz on Tuesday told Moon that he’ll restore Moon’s committee assignments if he apologizes on the Senate floor.
“What I’m trying to do is put an end to what is literally you stopping legislation that is important to the citizens of the state of Missouri,” Schatz told Moon.
Moon said he previously apologized and asked anyone who was offended by him wearing overalls to come to him for an apology.
But Moon argued that he violated no rule and that removing him from committees, a key avenue for senators to influence legislation, was too harsh a punishment.
“You haven’t just limited one voice,” Moon told Schatz. “You’ve limited a couple hundred thousand people’s voices.”
In neighboring Kansas, the state Senate requires “professional” dress on the floor. The House has no formal rule. Some members do not wear ties, and one now-retired lawmaker occasionally wore overalls.
Moon is running for the southwestern Missouri congressional seat currently occupied by Republican Billy Long, who is running for U.S. Senate.
Moon served from 2013 to 2020 in the state House, where he was known to attract controversy. Moon on Tuesday said House colleagues called him “poison” because his legislation was often doomed.
Moon drew attention in 2017 for posting the chicken-gutting video after former Gov. Eric Greitens called lawmakers back to the Capitol a second time after their regular session adjourned.
Greitens had described the second special session, which was to pass tougher abortion laws, as the cancellation of “summer vacation” for lawmakers. Moon remarked on the video that he was “in the middle of” his summer job processing chickens.
AP political writer John Hanna contributed to this report from Topeka, Kan.