House Republicans on Friday accused a New Orleans Democratic senator of verbally assaulting a House member in the final chaotic moments of the regular legislative session and said the senator should be censured.
The criticism is aimed at state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans and chair of the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee, a post that House GOP members said she should lose.
In a statement, the group said as the House was finishing on Thursday evening that state Rep. Dodie Horton, R-Haughton, asked a group of senators who were gathered on the House floor to quiet down so she could hear the debate.
The Republicans said Peterson responded by telling Horton to "shut the f*#k up" and that her comment was heard by several House members.
"This type of behavior is utterly outrageous and inexcusable," said Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria and chairman of the House GOP caucus. "To verbally assault one of our members is unbecoming; to verbally assault one of our members on the House floor completely disrespects the legislative process and the people who sent us here."
"Not only should Sen. Peterson publicly apologize to our members and the public for her outrageous remark, she should be censured and should lose her leadership position," he said.
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The group said Peterson should be censured by Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego.
In a tweet on Friday Peterson said she has addressed the issue. "Sincere apology extended shortly thereafter directly to Rep. Horton, apology accepted ... onward! Back to work," the tweet says.
Horton, who said she was appalled by the comment, said she got a text apology from Peterson about 30 minutes after the incident and plans to accept it when she sees the senator. "I know that is what God would want me to do," she said.
Peterson did not respond to a telephone call or email.
The House was jammed just before 6 p.m. on Thursday as leaders tried to finish action on the state's $29 billion operating budget. That effort failed and the Legislature is in a 10-day special session to craft a spending plan that starts July 1.
The exchange is the second time in recent days that GOP lawmakers blasted a state official.
A total of 19 House Republicans, including Harris, criticized a tweet by Shawn Wilson, secretary of the state Department of Transportation and Development, after a gas tax hike of up to 17 cents per gallon died in the House. The group said Wilson appeared to be threatening retaliation against House members who opposed the bill.
Wilson said his tweet was misinterpreted.
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The 61-member House Republican delegation also said Peterson recently co-authored a resolution that calls for civility in public discourse.
Peterson, who chairs the state Democratic Party, is something of a firebrand in the Legislature, and usually at odds with GOP positions.
Roger Villere, chairman of the state Republican Party, issued a statement Friday that says Peterson should resign as party leader.
"No state party chair should behave this way in public," Villere said. "It is embarrassing to our state."
Peterson's committee was in the news recently when the panel killed a high-profile, House-passed bill that would have required local officials to hold referendums before removing Confederate and other military monuments owned by the local government.