JEFFERSON CITY, MO. (KTVI) — A St. Louis lawmaker has been censured by the Missouri House of Representatives after he was accused of having sex with an intern.
Rep. Wiley Price is the first House member to ever be censured by his chamber.
The nearly two-hour debate Wednesday left some members emotional while Price spoke for the first time since the report came out last month.
“I apologize to my friends and my colleagues for even putting us in this position,” Price said on the House floor. “I thought a lot about what I could have done differently to never have been in this position.”
Price is a Democrat re-elected in November to represent a portion of St. Louis City.
Last month, a House Ethics Committee report was released saying the intern was not working for Price. It also said Price allegedly threatened and intimated a staff member for reporting the relationship.
“I said in the ethics report, or in the ethics committee, that I had a problem with a lot of discrepancies that were in the report and there were a lot of things that were omitted,” Price said.
The report was filed on Jan. 27, 2020, about a potential violation of a House rule that prohibits romantic relationships between lawmakers and interns.
House members discussed the report during their session Wednesday, when they voted to censure Price, meaning he will be removed from his committee assignments, will not be allowed to have an intern for the remainder of his time in the House, and must pay back the cost of the investigation — which is nearly $23,000 — to the House.
“The Rep. of the 84th have no service from nor supervision over any intern for the remainder of his membership in the House,” House Ethics Committee Chairman J. Eggleston said to the House while reading the report.
A censure, which is a formal statement of disapproval, does not remove a lawmaker from office. It is sometimes referred to as condemnation or denouncement.
Price’s alleged sexual encounter reportedly happened after a party at a bar and grill.
The report said that Price told a person who also attended the party about the alleged encounter, and that person filed a report with House staff.
Speaking for the first time since the report was released, Price said his staff member told the committee the following:
“She said I came into my office on a tech, unlocked my office door, called her into my office and said ‘Hey, I had sex with an intern last night,'” Price said. “I don’t really know where the conversation goes, but this is what she reports. She reports that I said I had sex with the intern last night.”
On Wednesday, Price never admitted having sex with the intern, and he and the intern have previously said it didn’t happen.
The intern also denied texting or speaking to Price on a cell phone, and Price denied having her number. Cell phone records were obtained for Price and the intern, and they showed 26 text messages between them, with the calls coming from both parties.
“There was a point I put in jeopardy by saying I didn’t even have this woman’s number,” Price said. “Poor judgment on my behalf. For that, I apologize for my colleagues, but more importantly, my constituents. Those who sent me here to do a job, which I will continue to do and do the best of my ability.”
Before Price finished talking on the floor Wednesday, he told the members, “I will be accepting the censure.”
After Price spoke, emotions ran high and an amendment was filed by Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Christian County, to expel Price from the House.
“I didn’t come by this decision lightly,” Taylor said while getting choked up. “I apologize, I’m an emotional person when I’m passionate about something.”
Democrats argued against the amendment to expel Price, while Republicans spoke in favor of it.
The amendment needed 109 votes to pass but fell short by 18 votes.