Kansas City, Missouri 2021-01-13 19:49:00 –
Jefferson City, Missouri (AP) —Wednesday, the Missouri House of Representatives officially accused lawmakers of having sex with an intern and threatened to quietly lie to staff during the investigation.
Republican-led house voted 140-3 to blame St. Louis Democrat Wily Price, as unanimously recommended by the bipartisan House Ethics Commission. The move to expel Price from the House of Representatives did not get the support of the two-thirds majority needed to pass.
Prices were scrutinized after submitting a report claiming that staff had told her that she had sex with an intern after a January 2020 party at a bar near the Jefferson City Parliament Building.
Price participated in a mandatory house sexual harassment training about a week ago. House policy prohibits lawmakers from having “romantic” relationships with internships, employees, or others they supervise.
Price denied investigators having sex with the intern. But he told his colleagues on Wednesday that it was wrong to tell the investigators that he didn’t even have an intern’s cell phone number. It was a lie.
During the investigation, Price also refused to call or send text messages to the intern, but backtracked after a record of calling her on the night of alleged sex.
Price, who is black, panicked and initially said he “denied everything.”
“I felt I was being attacked on the basis of falsehood,” Price said. “In the current political situation, politicians never benefit from suspicion. More specifically, if a white woman files a black man’s allegation of sexual misconduct, historically it is me. It doesn’t work in favor of. “
Price said he accepted his accusations and sat quietly at his desk and looked down when his colleague voted for his punishment. He then declined to comment on the reporter.
The Ethics Commission also found that Price had retaliated against a former employee for performing his duties as a mandatory rapporteur.
The commission found that Price threatened to fire her after learning that Price was being investigated for illegal activity. The staff told investigators that Price acted in the same way as the staff, saying, “Where did I come from, people die.”
Price on Wednesday did not talk about allegations that he threatened ex-staff to keep her quiet.
Mr Price said the former staff had made a claim against him. He said he was in retaliation against him for telling her the previous week that the staff was planning her replacement.
The Republicans went one step further and led efforts to drive Price out of the House of Representatives.
Republican Rep. Sarah Walsh explained that she was harassed as a young factory worker and found a sex toy on her desk. She banished Congressman Price and called on him to “stand up for these young people.”
“You are important,” she told the intern and other young people directly.
Democrats argued that the expulsion was too harsh, and 18 Republicans joined them in opposition to Price’s expulsion.
“It’s unpleasant for him to stay,” said Democrat Mark Elebracht, a member of the Ethics Commission.
Rep. Barbara Pfeiffer was the only Democrat to vote to expel Price, and many Republicans criticized Democrats for not supporting stronger action against him.
“Action is more eloquent than words,” said Republican Ethics Commissioner Travis Fitzwater. “In this case, the lack of action is screaming.”
Republican Rep. Jered Taylor, who sponsored the proposal to expel Price, called the accusation a “slap on the wrist.”
He continues to serve, but Price has been stripped of almost any power he had as a member of the Democratic Party of the House of Representatives. He can still vote, but he was kicked out of the committee and banned from exercising leadership. He is being asked to pay a fine of nearly $ 22,500 to cover the cost of taxpayer funding to investigate him.
The Missouri House has stepped up its policy on sexual harassment after resigning in 2015, acknowledging that former Republican Speaker John Deal had exchanged sexually accused text messages with the Speaker of the House.
Valentin reported from Columbia, Missouri.
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