Missouri Rep. Wiley Price IV spoke out after members of the Missouri House of Representatives voted almost unanimously Jan. 13 to censure him after an investigation into claims that he had sex with an intern in January 2020.
Price voiced concerns on the House Ethics Committee’s logistical process and his befuddlement when it came to the specific investigation in an interview with The St. Louis American.
“If you don't know what a political lynching looks like, open your eyes,” Price said of the investigatiion and subsequent censure.
The Missouri Committee on Ethics in December released an eight-page report detailing the investigation. The report said Price coerced his former legislative assistant into changing her story after she reported him and that he lied about claiming he had sex with a House intern.
The 10-person committee recommended the House take several actions. One was that Price be censured, which is a formal statement by the House expressing disapproval, and another was that he pay $22,494 to cover the cost of the investigation.
The House voted 140-3 to censure Price.
The freshman representative said he believes the investigation was a Republican effort to divert the media’s attention from the election of Rep. Rick Roeber in November. Roeber’s two grown children and wife have publicly accused him of sexual abuse, according to the Kansas City Star.
Roeber represents part of Lee’s Summit and the area just southeast of the town, near Kansas City.
“They had this ethics report on Jan. 27,” Price said. “They had my phone records subpoenaed in June. They waited until September to bring me in. Why would you wait until the last day of session to drop this? Because this is all you want people talking about. You do not want people talking about Rick Roeber.”
Price also pointed to Rep. Justin Hill, R-Lake Saint Louis. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Hill skipped his own swearing-in ceremony to join the pro-Trump rally at the captiol. He told the newspaper he did not enter the Capitol Building.
“They have said nothing about either one of these characters because Wiley is the sexual predator dude who doesn't have a victim,” Price said. “Look, they just censured me without a victim.”
Price maintains that he did not have sex with the intern. The House intern told investigators early on that she and Price did not have a sexual relationship of any kind. She did not participate further in the investigation, declining several invitations to testify before the committee through her Title IX coordinator, according to the ethics committee report.
Price and the intern both denied having each others’ phone numbers or having communicated through their cell phones in their initial interviews with an investigator — although phone records obtained later on disproved their claims.
The phone records subpoenaed by the Ethics Committee contained seven calls and 26 messages exchanged between Price and the intern between 12:40 a.m. Jan. 23 and the evening of Jan. 26, when their last call was 42 minutes long.
Price claims those records corroborate what he later said happened, that the two communicated brieflyafter they all socialized at a bar.
The legislative assistant reported Price told her the morning of Jan. 23 that he had sex with the intern the previous night.
“The woman's story was taken at face value,” Price said of the legislative assistant. “She went under no scrutiny.”
Price said that while there are no tangible records, he was in the process of firing the legislative assistant due to her job performance and believes she made the report in retaliation.
Price is the son of The St. Louis American’s staff photographer Wiley Price III.