Videos showing two Missouri State Senators incinerating a pile of cardboard went viral after people online accused the pair of burning books — but their responses to the accusations were markedly different.
State Senators Nick Schroer and Bill Eigel attended a fundraising event Friday night where flamethrowers were being auctioned, resulting in videos and photos being posted of the pair online.
“Burning down the swamp!” Schroer wrote alongside a photo of him using the flamethrower.
Neither candidate specified that they were burning books during the event. However, the story caught fire, and multiple X posts went viral condemning the state Senators for torching the supposed books.
“Missouri Republicans at a literal book burning,” one post said. “They think flamethrowers should be legal but history books should be destroyed.”
Schroer denied that they were burning books, writing on X that the “fake news” was spreading “division and hate.”
James Murphy, Schroer’s chief of staff, also clarified to Insider the accusations that Schroer is “a modern-day book-burner are false.” Murphy also railed against those he described as “the left” and “liberal trolls” for starting the rumor online.
“Senator Schroer participated in a St. Charles County Central Committee Fundraiser, FreedomFest,” Murphy said. “There, he was invited to engage in a unique and memorable act of lighting a bonfire of empty boxes with a flamethrower. This caused no harm to any books or literature.”
Eigel, on the other hand, is OK with people thinking he was book-burning. He said he would do it if given the opportunity in a statement sent to Insider.
“In the video, I am taking a flame thrower to cardboard boxes representing what I am going to do to the leftist policies and RINO corruption of the Jeff City swamp,” Eigel wrote, referring to the capital city of Missouri. “But let’s be clear, 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.”
Eigel also posted the statement on X, but his account was later suspended. It is unclear what policy prompted the suspension, but Eigel said in a statement to Insider that it was because he wanted to “protect our kids from the vulgar, pornographic material that woke bureaucrats have brought into our schools and libraries.”
Murphy did not respond to a request for comment from Insider regarding his colleague’s statement.
Eigel, who is running for governor, did not immediately respond to questions about what books he would burn should he have the opportunity to do so.
Crystal Quade, Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade and the sole Democratic gubernatorial candidate for the state, condemned Eigel on X.
“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,” Quade wrote on Monday.