Rep. Wiley Price IV is facing censure in the Missouri House of Representatives after an investigation asserts he coerced his former legislative assistant and committed perjury during an investigation into claims he had sex with a House intern in January.
The Missouri Committee on Ethics on Wednesday released an 8-page report detailing the investigation. It states that he coerced his former legislative assistant into changing her story and that he lied about claiming to have had sex with a House intern.
Price represents the 84th District, which covers a majority of the west side of the city, including Forest Park, Clayton, Hamilton Heights and a portion of the Wells-Goodfellows neighborhood. He won his second two-year term Nov. 3.
Price was not immediately available for comment.
The investigation began Jan. 27 when Price’s legislative assistant verbally reported to the House that Price told her he had sex with a House intern the night before. Per policy, outside counsel was contracted to conduct an investigation, which was then given to the Committee on Ethics.
Price’s legislative assistant testified to the Committee on Ethics on Feb. 27, that Price came into his office, shut the door and told her he had sex with the intern the night before.
She also testified that after reporting this to the House, Price told his legislative assistant she had messed up by telling another representative and told her to essentially recant what she had said to that person and then to support what he was saying — that he “didn’t do anything and it was all wrong.”
The woman also testified that Price said to her: “Where I come from, people die for doing shit like this.”
On Feb. 17, the legislative assistant was reassigned to no longer work for Price. To prevent further harassment, the report stated, Price’s office was moved to a different building.
The second witness, the representative who the legislative assistant also worked for and who she had talked to about what Price told her, also testified on Feb. 27 and gave information that was consistent with what Price’s legislative assistant said in her testimony, and noted that they are both mandated reporters.
Both witnesses also testified that this was not the first time Price had disclosed to them information about his sexual partners, according to the committee’s report.
The House intern declined to cooperate with the committee’s investigation. The intern was assigned to an uninvolved representative, according to the report.
The report states that phone records subpoenaed by the Ethics Commission contained seven phone calls and 26 messages exchanged between Price and the intern between 12:40 a.m. Jan, 23 and the evening of Jan. 26. Their last call was 42 minutes long.
Approximately seven months later, on Sept. 15, Price testified in front of the Ethics Committee, according to the committee’s report.
Price denied he had sex with the intern and denied that he had said that to his legislative assistant during his sworn testimony.
During his testimony he also denied that he had any phone contact with the intern, until the phone records mentioned above were shown to him. At that point, the report stated, he said he contacted the intern to confirm his legislative assistant made it home safely after the three of them had attended the same party at a restaurant.
Price also testified that he had given his legislative assistant who reported him a notice that she would be fired within 30 days before she alleged he had sex with the intern, which contradicted an earlier statement he gave indicating he had no prior issues with the woman.
There was no documentation, according to the Ethics Committee report, that he had given his legislative assistant such a notice.
The Committee also stated in the report that Price’s lawyer violated House rules during Price’s testimony by attempting to record their private hearing, which was prohibited. He was asked to delete the recording and did so.
In the report, Ethics Committee members assert that Price lied and committed perjury when it came to his statements about having sex with and communicating with the intern, threatened his legislative assistant for reporting the incident, obstructed the investigation by trying to coerce his legislative assistant to change her story and compromised the House’s ability “to provide a respectful, professional work environment.”
The 10-person committee recommended the House take several actions. The first two being that he is censured, which is a formal statement by the House expressing disapproval, and that he pay $22,494 to cover the cost of the investigation.
And until the House does censure him, the committee recommends he conduct himself in a respectful manner, be barred from having an intern, removed from any committee assignments and denied the ability to hold a leadership position.
Missouri Democratic Party Chair Michael Butler released a prepared statement Thursday in response to the report.
“We want to thank the House Ethics Committee for investigating these allegations. The full House should determine appropriate actions after reconvening and examining the evidence,” he said.
Rep. Wiley Price IV is the son of The St. Louis American’s staff photographer Wiley Price III.