Nebraska state senators volley over contentious remarks, hand gesture

Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 5:13 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Verbal attacks, vulgar gestures, and derogatory remarks.

That was the focus inside the Nebraska Capitol today as state senators tried to set the record straight over harassment and inappropriate behavior on the floor this week.

State Sens. Mike Groene and Patty Pansing Brooks admitted Friday they’ve had a long, contentious relationship while debating an event that unfolded on the Legislature floor Monday when Groene told Brooks to “shut up” and made an obscene hand gesture.

”I’ve never had that obscene gesture so aggressively pointed at me,” Brooks said.

But Groene interpreted it differently.

“I gave her the universal sign to desist and quit harassing me she was staring me down I went like this — look it up,” he said.

Groene pointed out that he wasn’t the one who initiated the exchange.

“It’s all about who’s chiding who, because I was being called names,” he said. “I was the one being called disgusting. I was being told I’m not Christian, so it’s a matter of who threw the first stone.”

Nebraska House Speaker Sen. Jim Scheer told the state lawmakers they don’t have to like each other, but they do have to respect each other — at least on the floor.

“If you don’t like something, go talk to them off the mic,” he said. “If you’ve got a problem, do that — this is not the place or the time for those discussions.”

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