Missouri state Rep. Maria Chappelle-Nadal paints with a broad brush. When a North Kansas City man sent her an e-mail encouraging lawmakers to crack down on illegal immigration, Chappelle-Nadal responded by accusing the sender of some serious hatin'. As in white supremacy.
On May 4, Greg Montgomery, a multimedia technician who lives in North Kansas City, encouraged friends to put pressure on members of a Special Committee on Immigration Reform, which House Speaker Rod Jetton assembled in April. A tough immigration bill that passed in the state Senate was stalled in the House. Montgomery e-mailed all the members of the Special Committee, including Chappelle-Nadal, a St. Louis-area Democrat. (The locals are Republicans Jerry Nolte of Gladstone, Tim Flook of Liberty and Gary Dusenberg of Blue Springs, and Democrat Trent Skaggs of Kansas City.)
"These fine Missourians are responsible for helping us to fight ILLEGAL immigration," Montgomery wrote. Instead of doing that, he griped, "What they are doing is sitting on their hands!"
When she received it, Chappelle-Nadal went into freakout mode. "Please do not email me anymore!" she responded. "Your anti-immigration groups have been tied to white supremacist groups in Missouri and nationally. I will not take part in your inhumane tactics."
Chappelle-Nadal hit "reply all," sending her shriek far and wide.
Montgomery had a couple of problems with Chappelle-Nadal's response. For one thing, he says he does not belong to an immigration group. "I'm not a member of any groups except the Boy Scouts, the Libertarian Party and the PTA," he tells the Pitch.
But even if he did belong to a Build a Big Fence-type organization, Montgomery thinks it was unfair for Chappelle-Nadal to equate tough immigration policy with swastika tattoos. Montgomery demanded an apology from Chappelle-Nadal. "I have never ever been accused of so heinous a crime in all my life," he wrote in an e-mail, echoing the representative's hysterics.
Chappelle-Nadal tells the Pitch she opened Montgomery's e-mail after a committee meeting where she felt offended by comments made by the immigration bill's supporters. "The way that a couple of the people were talking was so filled with hatred," she says.
Chappelle-Nadal says she Googled the names of the people who spoke and found links to a Web site that tracks hate groups. Chappelle-Nadal was also not happy about the bill itself and what she describes as a one-sided debate. She admits she was "really, really pissed off."
The representative offers no apology for making a snap judgment about Montgomery, however. "There are two or three groups supporting this bill," she says. "Some may be white supremacists, and some are. And some are not. And so if he is not, then that's fine. That's his business."