ST. CHARLES, Mo. – The race to see who will be Missouri’s next governor is heating up, literally.
Just weeks after Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, officially launched his campaign for the state’s top leader, he’s accused of burning books at a fundraiser event.
The fiery video making headlines across the world involved a flamethrower lighting a stack of cardboard boxes on fire, but word got out on “X,” formerly known as Twitter, that it was a stack of books burning.
Eigel said that’s a lie, and insists he’s the first candidate to trigger Democrats worldwide.
“They got so out in front with their lie that we were burning books that it went around the world,” Eigel said Thursday. “There’s reporting in Paris, France right now on this story, and it goes to show you how quickly a lie can spread.”
An alleged book burning spread like wildfire across the internet. The Republican fundraiser, called Freedom Fest, was held Friday night at the Sugar Creek Winery in Defiance. One of the items being raffled was a flamethrower and then this happened.
“We thought it would be neat to demonstrate the effectiveness of these flamethrowers on a pile of empty cardboard boxes,” Eigel said. “I can assure you that no books were harmed in the making of these videos.”
The video shows two Republican state senators from St. Charles County using flamethrowers to light a stack of cardboard boxes on fire.
Sen. Nick Schroer, R-Defiance, and Eigel said they were asked to demonstrate the flamethrowers, a raffle item, on a stack of cardboard boxes to boost interest in the raffle.
The viral video comes just weeks after Eigel officially launched his campaign to be Missouri’s next governor.
“I think that Missouri is stagnating today, and I think the reason it’s stagnating is because we have too much government,” Eigel said.
Eigel is calling himself the best candidate to deliver a bold conservative agenda for Missouri.
“When they [his Republican colleagues] are calling me an extremist, it’s because I tend to vote almost always in the line with the GOP platform that I said I would support when I was going through campaign season,” Eigel said.
The Weldon Spring Republican is an Air Force veteran who owned a residential and commercial remodeling business. He first ran for office in 2016, narrowly defeating two other Republican candidates to represent St. Charles County.
“I’m going to implement the policies they’ve only been hearing about in campaign season for the past 20 years of Republican leadership,” Eigel said. “Personal property tax is finished on my watch. “
The gubernatorial candidate enters a crowded field for the Republican nomination, including Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, and Army veteran Chris Wright.
“I’ve made the case that the only way those guys are going to win this gubernatorial nomination is if Republicans decide in mass that policy doesn’t matter,” Eigel said.
Among the Democrats allegedly triggered by the flamethrower video, House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, who is also running for governor, condemned the video as an attempt to intimidate voters.
In a statement this week, she said,
Bill Eigel and his extremist allies’ idea of campaigning for governor is using a flamethrower to burn whatever he doesn’t agree with.
Watching lawmakers use flamethrowers to intimidate folks they disagree with is a jarring reminder of how they view their jobs as a joke, while real people suffer from their cruelty.
We deserve a government that’s going to work to solve real problems, not make political stunts.Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade
Quade reposted the video with the false book burning claim, saying in the post, “If you agree we need more books … fewer flamethrowers, I hope you’ll chip in to join our campaign.”
Eigel further fueled the controversy by addressing the book ban issue online.
“You bring those woke pornographic books to Missouri schools to try to brainwash our kids, and I’ll burn those too—on the front lawn of the governor’s mansion,” he wrote.
His X account was suspended for about 5 hours after the post.
“What I meant by that is the fact that if the only thing standing between the children of this state and pornographic vulgar material getting out into their hands is a bonfire on the governor’s mansion lawn, and I’m the one that has to light the match, you bet I’ll do that,” Eigel said.
Eigel’s platforms include proposed tax cuts and prohibiting foreign ownership of Missouri land.
While Gov. Mike Parson has not made a former endorsement into the race yet, earlier this month he hinted at supporting Kehoe. Eigel said if Parson were to pick Kehoe for an endorsement, he would be fine.
“I never expected to have Mike Parson’s endorsement because I have so many policy differences from Parson,” Eigel said. “To hear he is going to probably endorse Mike Kehoe is the fulfillment of the exception of the swamp loving the swamp. I’ve been disappointed in Mike Parson over the last four years because I’ve supported him in his reelection and what he has done in the last four years is grow government to a size in Jefferson City like we’ve never seen before.”
The primary election takes place next August.