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House rejects Roeber resignation so Ethics probe can continue: ‘Our work is not yet done’

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri House rejected Rep. Rick Roeber’s resignation on the day before he was set to leave the statehouse

House Ethics Committee Chairman Travis Fitzwater formally called for the rejection of the resignation, calling for its postponement so the committee can continue its investigation and finalize its report. The House unanimously voted to reject the resignation in a 153-0 vote. 

Rep. Richard Brown, the vice-chair of the committee, urged lawmakers not to “allow this member to escape without us giving full recognition to what has taken place here.”

“Our work is not yet done,” Brown said.

Nine members, including Roeber, did not cast a vote. His office did not respond to a request for comment.

Roeber announced his intentions to resign earlier this week as the House Ethics Committee was set to release its recommendation. It had been investigating Roeber, a freshman Republican, who faced allegations of sexual and physical abuse from his now-adult children. His final day was set to be April 16.  

Roeber had been barred from sitting on the House Republican Caucus before the 2021 legislative session began. He narrowly won election to his late wife’s seat in November and denied the allegations against him. 

Earlier this week, Roeber sent a letter of resignation to House leadership, saying he planned to move out of state with his fiancée to be closer to other family members. 

House Speaker Rob Vescovo and Fitzwater — both Republicans — said at the time the Ethics Committee would still release its report, adding they were “appalled by the disturbing details uncovered by the committee and ashamed of the way the system failed to protect them from harm.”

“Our caucus and our institution have a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who would endanger the well-being of a child, and 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,” Fitzwater and Vescovo said. “To that end, we have communicated with the appropriate law enforcement officials to share our concerns about the risk he may pose to other children.”

“With his resignation today, we take an important step to protect the integrity of the House as an institution, but it’s far more important that we do all we can to seek justice for his children and to ensure he never again causes harm to another child. His resignation allows him to walk away from his duties as a representative, but we cannot allow him to once again walk away from the children he victimized.”

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade said Democrats “fully support the [Ethics] Committee’s decision to pursue its investigation of Rick Roeber to conclusion.”

“The House has a duty to secure whatever justice it can for his adult children, who courageously made public the allegations of abuse by their father despite the great emotional pain of reliving their trauma, and protect other children from enduring similar abuse,” Quade said. “To fulfill that duty, the House cannot allow Roeber to simply walk away.”

Senate leadership on both sides of the aisle expressed support on Thursday for Fitzwater and Vescovo as the probe into Roeber continues. Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden said if the allegations are true, he “hope[s] that they get the guy prosecuted.”

“He seems like a pretty bad person who shouldn’t be in the body or this building,” Minority Leader John Rizzo said.

Cameron Gerber contributed to this report.