JEFFERSON CITY — The House voted to expel disgraced Rep. Rick Roeber after an ethics investigation concluded he physically and sexually abused his children. It has been over 150 years since a representative was expelled from the House.
The vote was nearly unanimous, with 153 ‘yes’ votes and one representative abstaining. The last member to be expelled was Rep. John Sampson in 1865, for attending a meeting of secessionists.
The House Ethics Committee chaired by Rep. Travis Fitzwater (R-Holts Summit) recommended the House expel Roeber, of Lee’s Summit, after lawmakers rejected his attempt to resign. The resignation letter made no mention of the allegations against him.
“We found his family to be credible witnesses in this case. We found the representative to not be credible,” Fitzwater said. “As a result of the offenses against his children, we recommend that the House expel him from this hallowed institution with haste.”
The allegations include sexual and physical assault of his now-grown children, who testified before the House committee. The report includes testimony from three of Roebers’ children and his ex-wife. The report finds the sexual abuse allegations constitute a Class A felony.
The 12-page report details the allegations. Roeber described the claims as a “political hit.” On the House floor, Fitzwater addressed Roeber’s claims that his children were targeting him for political purposes and said he didn’t find him credible.
House Speaker Rob Vescovo passionately addressed House members and decried Roeber as unfit to represent the people of his district — despite these allegations being made prior to his election. Vescovo dropped the customary “gentleman” when addressing Roeber as he urged House members to vote for his expulsion.
“And all this investigation found was that gentlemen from the 34th — the man from the 34th — did the opposite of create that home life where these children could be protected,” Vescovo said.
After the committee released the report Thursday, Roeber rejected the findings and asked for a formal hearing. As the committee prepared for the hearing, Roeber issued his resignation.
“I don’t think it is appropriate for him to walk away on his own terms, as he’s continued to walk away on his own terms, on his children, his entire life,” Vescovo said.
Rep. Robert Sauls, D-Independence, serves on the ethics committee. He said the members decided to expel Roeber based on the severity of the allegations and his failure to take any accountability.
Saul motioned to the words that appear on the walls of the House chamber.
“Truth, honor, law and justice have to mean something, at least they do for me,” Sauls said. “And that is why I’m asking the body to vote yes.”
Roeber was not present when the House voted to expel him. Committee members noted that he was uncooperative during the investigation.
“The representative … did everything he could to avoid discussing these events, did not recall them, (and) defied and disrespected the committee and our process and blamed others for his conduct years ago,” Fitzwater said. “Never willing to even one time take any level of responsibility for the brokenness of the lives of his children and family.”
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