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Jeanette Mott Oxford is the ranking Democrat of a committee she’s not on. Word.

Despite the pressure from House Democrats for Republicans to put her back on the Children and Families Committee, despite her thirty years experience as an advocate for children, the poor, and working-class families, and despite the fact that other Democrats turned down the appointment before Ron Richard found someone willing to fill the slot, Richard has kicked her off Children and Families where she has served for four years. And he won’t explain why.

Since being on that committee was Oxford’s top priority for this legislative session, and since none of the other Ds on it have ever served there before, the Democratic leadership registered its outrage by appointing her the ranking Democrat, even though she only “serves” by staying in touch with other Dems–you know, the ones who actually get to attend the committee meetings.

Normally, a situation like this wouldn’t arise, because Democrats would get to choose which of their number would serve on given committees, but Children and Families is one of the 26 committees that Rod Jetton converted from a Standing Committee to a Special Committee, so that Republicans would have complete say-so over the members. Richard converted 18 of the 26 back to Standing Committees, but not this one. People are puzzling over why he so adamantly wants Oxford off of there.

Democrats have heard that Richard’s Chief of Staff, Jeff Brooks, said the GOP caucus finds her “highly offensive.” Richard and Brooks deny that Brooks said it, but even if he did, who knows what he found offensive? Sylvester Brown, a Post-Dispatch columnist, explored the question today and quoted Joan Briccetti, an arts management consultant who lives in Mott Oxford’s district:

“Knowing the gentlemen in Jefferson City, I’m not surprised. They might have problems that she’s a woman, a lesbian, a liberal, that she’s overweight or a combination of all those things,” Briccetti said.

Considering who the new head of the committee is, the lesbian issue looks likely. Cynthia Davis, family values wingnut extraordinaire, now heads the committee. Reports I hear are that she’s a sweet natured person but that, ideologically, she’s out in left field. No wait. What I mean is that she’s so far out in right field that she’s jumped the bleachers and left the stadium.

When I talked to Representative Oxford earlier this week, she mentioned that the former head of the committee, Ward Franz, had been a fair person to work with, that he gave Democrats a chance to express their opinions.

Well, she’s not getting a chance to express her opinion in that committee these days. Maybe that is because Davis objects to her lesbian lifestyle–as many on the internet assume. Brown again:

Liberal organizations and gay and lesbian groups across the country are spreading the story, via the Web, about a Missouri politician who was punished because of her lifestyle.

Or maybe Cynthia Davis has nothing to do with it. Whatever the real reason, Ron Richard is unlikely to cave and let Jeanette onto the committee. He’s pulled up stubborn and maintains that he finally settled on appointing Mike Corcoran  because “he’s one of my favorite guys.”

Fine. You want to feed us that nonsense? Go ahead. But I thought you prided yourself on being tough, on being a “bad actor” when people push you too hard. Really? How much harder are we going to have to push before you abandon that weak-assed lie?