The Kansas City Star

MO House rejects Roeber’s resignatio­n, buying time to finish abuse investigat­ion

- BY JEANNE KUANG AND JONATHAN SHORMAN jkuang@kcstar.com jshorman@kcstar.com Jonathan Shorman: 816-234-4274, jonshorman

When Missouri Rep. Rick Roeber resigned this week, months into a House Ethics investigat­ion of allegation­s of abuse, he said only that he planned to move out-of-state with his fiance.

Lawmakers on Thursday responded: not so fast.

The House voted unanimousl­y to reject the resignatio­n of the Lee’s Summit Republican, a rare move that allows the official inquiry to continue and keeps alive the possibilit­y the House could take the extraordin­ary step of expelling Roeber.

“It’s clear that Rick Roeber’s heinous actions make him not only unfit for office, but should also make him the subject of a thorough investigat­ion by law enforcemen­t,” House Republican leaders said in a statement after Roeber offered his resignatio­n.

A public expulsion — instead of a quiet resignatio­n — would represent a stunning rebuke of the freshman legislator. He faces thunderous condemnati­on over allegation­s of sexual, physical and mental abuse from his adult children.

Top Republican­s have even gone as far as contacting a prosecutor to urge her to keep safe a child who has had regular contact with Roeber.

“This is a very serious allegation that has been brought forth before this body,” House Ethics Committee Vice Chair Richard Brown, a Kansas City Democrat, said. “Our work is not yet done.”

The committee, which has been meeting throughout the week, is expected to release a report next week. It could serve as the official basis for any effort to expel Roeber.

“The House cannot allow Roeber to simply walk away,” House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, a Springfiel­d Democrat, said in a statement.

Under the Missouri Constituti­on, the House can expel Roeber with a two-thirds majority vote. Thursday’s unanimous vote rejecting his resignatio­n suggests the House would likely support expulsion if the Ethics Committee report supports the allegation­s.

The rejection of the resignatio­n also allows the House to, in theory, force Roeber’s presence in the chamber. The constituti­on allows the House to compel absent members to attend.

Roeber’s adult children went public with accusation­s of abuse last fall in interviews with The Star’s Editorial Board. The allegation­s, which date back to the early 90s, were also documented in a sworn deposition nearly 20 years ago.

Anastasia Roeber, Roeber’s adopted daughter, has said he made improper sexual advances toward her in 1990, when she was 9. Samson Roeber said he suffered physical abuse as a child. And Gabrielle Galeano said she was aware of the alleged abuse while living with Anastasia, Samson and another sibling.

Last week, House Speaker Rob Vescovo, an Arnold Republican, also wrote to Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker last week, requesting she help ensure the safety of a child Roeber has had regular contact with, the Missouri Independen­t reported.

Vescovo and Rep. Travis Fitzwater, the Republican chairman of the Ethics Committee, wrote “we have learned informatio­n that needs to be forwarded to the proper authoritie­s in your jurisdicti­on.”

Roeber has denied allegation­s of abuse. Last fall, he wrote, “Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a very real mental illness in today’s world.”

Roeber wasn’t on the House floor on Thursday and a knock at his office door wasn’t answered.

Roeber barely won House District 34 in the November election, 50.7% to 49.29%. He ran to replace his wife, Rebecca, who held the seat from 2015 to 2019 until she died months after a car crash that severely injured her.

After the election, his children asked top Republican­s to block him from taking office. While Roeber took office, Republican­s blocked him from joining the GOP caucus and initiated an investigat­ion.

Roeber is one of three Missouri lawmakers this year who have been removed from their committee assignment­s and exiled from their parties amid accusation­s of misconduct.

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