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Roeber barred from House Republican Caucus

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — After meeting to discuss allegations leveled against incoming Rep. Rick Roeber, House leadership announced he would be barred from sitting on the House Republican Caucus when the 2021 legislative session begins.

Incoming Speaker Rob Vescovo, Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann, and incoming Majority Floor Leader Dean Plocher issued a joint statement following the caucus’ deliberation. 

“Our house leadership team takes the troubling accusations against Rep.-elect Rick Roeber very seriously, and we have decided he will not be a member of our caucus at this time,” the statement said. “When the 2021 legislative session commences in January, the House Ethics Committee will conduct a thorough investigation of the accusations made by his children. We will await the committee’s recommendations for the next steps to take in this matter.”

Roeber responded to the decision in a letter to leadership obtained by The Missouri Times.

“Thank you for leadership’s consideration in my regard today at winter caucus,” he said. “I see the wisdom in making me a caucus of one at this juncture to allow any ethics complaints against me to be investigated and discussed. As I have stated, I am guiltless of any of the accusations against me and will be fully exonerated through due process. I look forward to full admittance into the caucus once these allegations have been dismissed by the Ethics Committee.”

The Missouri Democratic Party responded to the news on social media, saying Roeber “shouldn’t just be barred from caucusing with Republicans. He shouldn’t be seated.”

Roeber’s children, who are now adults, accused him of both sexual and physical assault in a Kansas City Star editorial in September. They sent a letter to Vescovo last month, asking action be taken to disqualify Roeber from taking the House seat. 

Roeber has denied all allegations, maintaining that he was “completely exonerated” years prior.

“Decades ago, I suffered through a bitter divorce. In 2003, the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board (CANRB) concluded that all accusations were without merit and I was completely exonerated,” Roeber previously said in a statement. “Now, these same allegations are being brought up, just one month prior to my election. The desperation of Democrats and the Main Stream Media [sic] to discredit my campaign is deplorable and indefensible.” 

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Senate Minority Floor Leader John Rizzo and GOP Reps. Shamed Dogan and Shelia Solon, head of the Children and Families Committee, called for Roeber to be removed from the ballot ahead of Election Day. 

Roeber narrowly won the HD 34 seat in November, overtaking Democrat Chris Hager by a mere 1.7 percent of the vote. The seat was left vacant after the death of his wife, Rep. Rebecca Roeber, last year.