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A Missouri state lawmaker is accused of having sex with an intern and threatening an assistant not to report the illicit encounter, according to a report.
Rep. Wiley Price IV, a Democrat who represents parts of St. Louis, allegedly told his legislative assistant that he slept with the intern in January after a party at a bar in Jefferson City, according to a Missouri House of Representatives Ethics Committee report released Wednesday.
The assistant testified in February that Price told her he had consensual sex with the intern and that there was “nothing wrong” with his actions.
Price urged the woman to say that another witness misspoke and that “he didn’t do anything,” telling his aide that he was her “mess” to clean up.
“If I didn’t back his play or back his idea that I was going to lose my job,” she recalled Price telling her, according to the report. “Where I come from, people die for doing s–t like this … Witness 1 stated she was afraid of [Price] after this conversation.”
Price had until Wednesday to resign over the alleged sexual relationship, which he told a staffer about in late January days after a party at a bar in Jefferson City, according to the ethics committee report.
House policy forbids romantic relationships between lawmakers and employees or interns. The 10-person, bipartisan committee voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend to ban Price from leadership positions and strip him of his committee assignments if he doesn’t step down.
Lawmakers also want him to pay more than $22,000 to cover the cost of the investigation into the allegation, which he has declined to do. Messages seeking comment from Price Thursday were not immediately returned.
The committee ruled Price should face sanctions and possible censure after his legislative assistant reported the potential violation and he threatened her if she told anyone, according to the report.
The woman said Price told her on Jan. 23 that he had sex with the intern the night before, according to the report, adding that the lawmaker started harassing her upon learning she relayed the accusation to House staff as a mandated reporter.
“Witness 1 stated [Price] told her that he and the intern had agreed to lie and state nothing happened between them, and they had deleted each other’s phone numbers and all text messages and calls between them from their phones,” the report states.
The intern also denied any sexual relationship with Price, but investigators deemed her credibility questionable, according to the report.
Phone records show Price and the intern made seven phone calls and sent 26 text messages to each other between Jan. 23 and Jan. 26, contradicting their previous testimony to an investigator, the report states.
Price, meanwhile, claimed the staffer who went to investigators was acting in retaliation because he planned to fire her, but no evidence was found backing up that assertion.
An aide for Price, who won his second term last month, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Wednesday that he had not seen the House Ethics Committee report.
With Post wires
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