Missouri governor says speech venue change disrespected him

SUMMER BALLENTINE
Associated Press
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson delivers the State of the State address Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Jefferson City, Mo. The speech is traditionally given in the House chamber but was moved to the smaller Senate chamber at the last minute due to concerns about the coronavirus.

COLUMBIA — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said lawmakers disrespected him when House leaders told him he couldn't give his State of the State address in that chamber because of coronavirus concerns. 

The Republican wrote a letter Friday to GOP lawmakers accusing legislative leaders of 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," he wrote. 

The governor traditionally delivers an annual speech to lawmakers in the House, but Parson said the House told him he couldn't use that chamber just hours before he was set to speak Wednesday.

Republican legislative leaders said in a joint statement that they switched venues to ensure proper social distancing. 

Parson's State of the State speech was scheduled to take place shortly after House lawmakers returned to the Capitol after canceling work for a week because of an outbreak of COVID-19. The Senate has remained in session, but Sen. Andrew Koenig said he tested positive for the virus days before Parson's address. Several other senators were quarantining. 

The top Senate Democrat questioned why Parson gave an in-person speech at all.