The Missouri House of Representatives has censured Democratic state Rep. Wiley Price in a near-unanimous vote after determining that the lawmaker harassed a former aide and lied under oath while under investigation for allegedly having sex with an intern early last year.
The vote followed a recommendation from the state’s ethics commission, which in December concluded that Price had committed perjury by denying that he had sex with his intern as well as coerced his former legislative assistant into changing her story after she reported the incident.
The committee suggested that Price be censured for his actions, or formally denounced, and that he pay $22,494 to cover the cost of the investigation. On Tuesday, the legislature voted 140-3 to censure Price.
The Associated Press reported that a Republican-led effort was launched to go even further and expel him from the House, but it ultimately didn’t garner enough support and was withdrawn after Democrats and a dozen Republicans refused to sign on.
In a statement, a group of House Republicans, led by Speaker Rob Vescovo, said, “The offenses outlined by our bipartisan House Ethics Committee merit strong repercussions, which is why we supported the censure motion and the amendment to expel Rep. Price from this body. While the expulsion amendment didn’t have the necessary two-thirds vote for approval, the majority of our caucus supported the effort to remove Rep. Price from this body for his egregious offenses.”
“The overwhelming vote today by the House of Representatives to censure Rep. Price marks the first time in the history of the House that such a measure has been approved,” the statement continued.
Price reportedly sat in silence, gazing downward at his desk as his colleagues voted and declined to comment to reporters afterward.
During the ethics commission investigation, Price’s former aide testified that Price came into her office early last year and shut the door behind him before telling her that he had had sex with the intern the night before.
She also testified that Price pressured her to recant her statement after she had informed another representative of the conversation, and later threatened her, saying, “Where I come from, people die for doing s**t like this.”
The second witness, a representative in the House, reportedly confirmed the story to investigators.
Price represents Missouri’s 84th district covering St. Louis’ west side. He won his second two-year term on Nov. 3.