Missouri House rejects Rick Roeber’s resignation, buying time to finish investigation

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Jeanne Kuang, Jonathan Shorman
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

When Missouri Rep. Rick Roeber resigned this week, months into a House Ethics investigation of allegations of abuse, he said only that he planned to move out-of-state with his fiance.

Lawmakers on Thursday responded: not so fast.

The House voted unanimously to reject the resignation of the Lee’s Summit Republican, a rare move that allows the official inquiry to continue and keeps alive the possibility the House could take the extraordinary step of expelling Roeber.

“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,” House Republicans leaders said in a statement after Roeber offered his resignation.

A public expulsion — instead of a quiet resignation — would represent a stunning rebuke of the freshman legislator. He faces thunderous condemnation over allegations of sexual, physical and mental abuse from his adult children.

Top Republicans have even gone as far as contacting a prosecutor to urge her to keep safe a child who has had regular contact with Roeber.

“This is a very serious allegation that has been brought forth before this body,” House Ethics Committee Vice Chair Richard Brown, a Kansas City Democrat, said. “Our work is not yet done.”

The committee, which has been meeting throughout the week, is expected to release a report next week. It could serve as the official basis for any effort to expel Roeber.

“The House cannot allow Roeber to simply walk away,” House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, a Springfield Democrat, said in a statement.

Under the Missouri Constitution, the House can expel Roeber with a two-thirds majority vote. Thursday’s unanimous vote rejecting his resignation suggests the House would likely support expulsion if the Ethics Committee report supports the allegations.

The rejection of the resignation also allows the House to, in theory, force Roeber’s presence in the chamber. The constitution allows the House to compel absent members to attend.

Roeber’s adult children went public with accusations of abuse last fall in interviews with The Star’s Editorial Board. The allegations, which date back to the early 90s, were also documented in a sworn deposition nearly 20 years ago.

Anastasia Roeber, Roeber’s adopted daughter, has said he made improper sexual advances toward her in 1990, when she was 9. Samson Roeber said he suffered physical abuse as a child. And Gabrielle Galeano said she was aware of the alleged abuse while living with Anastasia, Samson and another sibling.

Last week, House Speaker Rob Vescovo, an Arnold Republican, also wrote to Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker last week, requesting she help ensure the safety of a child Roeber has had regular contact with, the Missouri Independent reported.

Vescovo and Rep. Travis Fitzwater, the Republican chairman of the Ethics Committee, wrote “we have learned information that needs to be forwarded to the proper authorities in your jurisdiction.”

Roeber has denied allegations of abuse. Last fall, he wrote, “Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a very real mental illness in today’s world.”

Roeber wasn’t on the House floor on Thursday and a knock at his office door wasn’t answered.

Roeber barely won House District 34 in the November election, 50.7% to 49.29%. He ran to replace his wife, Rebecca, who held the seat from 2015 to 2019 until she died months after a car crash that severely injured her.

After the election, his children asked top Republicans to block him from taking office. While Roeber took office, Republicans blocked him from joining the GOP caucus and initiated an investigation.

Roeber is one of three Missouri lawmakers this year who have been removed from their committee assignments and exiled from their parties amid accusations of misconduct.