Rush Limbaugh. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Jefferson City, MO (KSDK) - Controversial radio host Rush Limbaugh will be inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians at the State Capitol in Jefferson City Monday afternoon.
Missouri House Speaker Steven Tilley (R-Perryville) alerted media statewide less than half an hour before the ceremony's scheduled start time at 1 p.m.
Tilley wanted to avoid a public spectacle for the event after Limbaugh's selection was criticized by Democrats, some women's groups and other political opponents.
Rush Limbaugh, a Cape Girardeau native, has achieved national prominence over the last three decades as a syndicated conservative talk radio host.
Women's rights groups have gotten more than 35,000 signatures on petitions opposing the plan to induct Rush Limbaugh. Those groups said Limbaugh disrespected women when he described a Georgetown law student in February as a "slut" and "prostitute." Limbaugh later apologized for his language.
The Hall of Famous Missourians is a series of bronze busts located on the third floor of the Missouri Capitol between the House and Senate chambers. Missouri House Speakers have the discretion each session to decide who is inducted into the Hall. Each bust costs around $10,000 to make and is paid for by the Speaker's Annual Gold Classic.
The Hall of Famous Missourians features such luminaries as author Mark Twain, newsman Walter Cronkite, game show host Bob Barker, President Harry Truman, and actresses Betty Grable and Ginger Rogers.
House Minority Leader Mike Tabloy (D-Kansas City) released the following statement about Limbaugh's induction:
"House Speaker Steve Tilley today purported to induct misogynistic talk show host Rush Limbaugh III into the Hall of Famous Missourians. Instead of being open to the public as is tradition, the ceremony was conducted in secret in a locked House chamber with only Republican officials and other select people allowed in. The secrecy and exclusion of the public demonstrates that even Republicans are embarrassed at honoring someone who recently called a female college student with whom he disagreed a 'slut' and a 'prostitute.'
"After the first four inductees to the Hall of Famous Missourians were selected by a group of legislative spouses, House speakers assumed the role and have chosen all subsequent inductees. Until now, no one as controversial and unworthy as Mr. Limbaugh has been put forth for inclusion.
"But the Hall is an entirely unofficial honor and Speaker Tilley has no legal authority to order that the bronze bust of Mr. Limbaugh be granted space in the Capitol Rotunda alongside the busts of previous inductees. House Democrats have asked the Office of Administration, which controls all public areas of the Capitol, to refuse to display the Limbaugh bust, and we are confident that it will not be placed in the Hall of Famous Missourians."
Assistant House Minority Leader Tishaura Jones (D-St. Louis) released the following statement:
"In recent weeks, House Republicans have repeatedly made Missouri a national laughingstock with their 'don't say gay' bill and support for legislation to address the non-existent problem of employment discrimination against gun owners while simultaneously seeking to make it easier for employers to discriminate against victims of actual bias. And now they would honor a man who has no honor.
"Last week a truly remarkable and deserving man, Dred Scott, was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians in a ceremony that was open to the public and streamed live on the Internet. Today's induction of controversial radio host Rush Limbaugh was in sharp contrast, with the ceremony kept secret and the House chamber locked to all but a select few while a dozen armed guards blocked members of the public from entering. Even the Web feed from the House chamber was silent.
"It is quite clear from their handling of the Limbaugh ceremony that Republicans were ashamed of what they were doing and wanted as few people as possible to witness it. When you take great steps to hide what you're doing, it usually means that you know what you're doing is wrong."
Scott Holste, spokesman for the governor, released the following statement:
"Based on the findings of the Office of Administration's review, the Governor looks forward to working with the Board of Public Buildings and the State Capitol Commission to review the purpose and governance of the Hall of Famous Missourians and to develop a comprehensive strategy regarding where all busts, statues and other monuments are displayed in the Capitol."
To watch video of the induction ceremony, click here.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.