After wearing overalls in the Missouri Senate, GOP lawmaker loses committee spots

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz’s decision to punish Sen. Mike Moon is the latest dust up in the war between GOP leadership and the conservative caucus

By: - February 16, 2022 3:29 pm

State Sen. Mike Moon, a Republican from Ash Grove, was among GOP lawmakers who helped sink the nomination of Donald Kauerauf as state health director (photo by Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications).

A southwest Missouri senator was stripped of most of his committee assignments Wednesday as punishment for wearing overalls to the chamber floor and other alleged violations of decorum.

Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, received word of his dismissal from all but one standing and two joint committees on Wednesday just before the Gubernatorial Appointments Committee was to meet.

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Shatz, who is also chairman of the committee, said he brought Moon into his office to tell him of the punishment.

“I have tried to address this with Sen. Moon on a couple of occasions behind closed doors because I want this rectified,” Schatz said. “This is not a permanent situation. Sen. Moon has every opportunity to apologize to the body and if he chooses not to do that, those conditions are going to stay intact and I think the chamber will probably support those.”

Moon came to the floor Feb. 9 wearing overalls, a shirt and tie and a tan jacket. Schatz said he approached Moon that day and told him to change his clothes.

“I said you need to get off this Senate floor and if you don’t there will be consequences,” Schatz said.

Instead, Moon rose to question why his attire was so offensive.

“If someone comes to me and threatens me with infractions, or ramifications, for me just coming to the chamber, and doing the duty that I was called to do, that’s unacceptable,” Moon said. “But we’ll see what happens.”

Taking away a member’s committee assignments is a rare punishment in the General Assembly. The House did it to two members last year, after one was indicted and after the other was censured by the House for lying about a relationship with an intern. A third member, accused of sexual abuse by his children, was never given assignments.

In an interview Wednesday, Moon said he didn’t want to talk about what Schatz told him when he was informed he had lost his assignments.

“I don’t want to say something that is maybe taken out of context,” Moon said. “In due time there might be some statements, but not today.”

Asked if it was related to the overalls incident, or if he felt he had offended the decorum of the chamber, Moon said he feels he did nothing wrong.

“If I did, I would have made it right,” Moon said. “There is not anything that needs to be made right.”

The Senate rules do not specify what clothing senators or others who work in the chamber should wear. But through long tradition, men are supposed to have a suit or pants and blazer, and a tie. Women may wear dresses or suits.

“It was brought up that I’m not dressed properly,” Moon said on the Senate floor on Feb. 9. “I have a tie and a coat and I have shoes and garments covering my body. Is there something in the rules that I’ve done wrong? I’ve read through the rules. I haven’t found any infraction.”

Along with Gubernatorial Appointments, Moon was removed from the Professional Registration, Small Business and Industry, and Ways and Means committees. He retained a seat on the Progress and Development Committee, the only committee chaired by a Democratic senator, and two joint committees.

The decision to come to the Senate wearing inappropriate attire was deliberate, Schatz said.

“I am not calling Sen. Moon a child in this situation, but I am going to characterize it as what a child would do,” Schatz said. “When you tell a child no, if they are going to do something, and they always look back, and they want to know OK, what are you going to do if I don’t stop?”

Moon is one of seven senators aligned in a conservative caucus that has blocked all action on legislation in the Senate this year as a result of disagreements over a new congressional district map. The caucus and Republicans aligned with Senate leadership have been at odds for more than a year, with the infighting becoming increasingly personal over the last few weeks. 

Moon is also a candidate for the Republican nomination for Congress from the 7th District in southwest Missouri.

Schatz said Moon can regain his committee assignments if he will apologize to the Senate.

“​​Sen. Moon served in the House for approximately 7 or 8 years,” Schatz said. “I am sure he was fully aware of the dress code there. I am sure he is fully aware of the dress code in the Missouri Senate.”

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Rudi Keller
Rudi Keller

Rudi Keller covers the state budget, energy and the legislature. He’s spent 22 of his 30 years in journalism covering Missouri government and politics, most recently as the news editor of the Columbia Daily Tribune. Keller has won awards for spot news and investigative reporting.

MORE FROM AUTHOR