JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri House Democrats on Wednesday began circulating a petition calling for the removal of Rep. John Diehl as speaker, as the Republican of St. Louis faces allegations that he exchanged sexually explicit messages with a 19-year-old intern detailed by a Kansas City Star report.
“I think it is improper to be at the dais while these allegations are pending,” said Rep. Gina Mittens, a Democrat of St. Louis who is backing the petition. “There’s a dark shadow over us.”
During a break in a debate here over right-to-work, Mittens announced to the House that the circulation had begun to circulate. Within only a few minutes, she said she had gathered 25 of the 82 signatures required to force a vote of the House.
Mittens said she did not know if the allegations were true, but said she wanted Diehl out of House leadership until a full investigation — whether it be by a House committee, law enforcement or the attorney general.
“If it’s determined the allegations are unfounded, I’d be the first to vote for his reinstatement,” she said.
Mittens said she’s experienced a “culture of sexism,” and said a “young woman should not be involved in the kind of harassment,” including alleged racy texts and an apparent intent for the two to engage in a physical relationship.