A Republican lawmaker from St. Louis County resigned from office Wednesday, although the reasoning behind the move remains a mystery.
Rep. Don Gosen issued a statement Wednesday morning that he was resigning in order to “focus on my family.” Moments later House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Poplar Bluff Republican, issued a statement of his own that hinted at some sort of inappropriate behavior, but was not specific.
He did, however, make reference in his statement to the scandals from last year that forced two lawmakers to resign and sparked an overhaul of the House’s sexual harassment and intern policies.
“At the beginning of this year, I said the actions of this body would not be defined by a few. I was serious then, and I am serious now,” Richardson said. “That’s why when I was made aware of the situation, I asked him to resign last night.”
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Richardson later in the day declined to clarify what led him to call for Gosen to resign. But he did tell The Star that there were no interns or legislative staff involved.
Chief clerk of the House Adam Crumbliss could neither confirm nor deny the existence of an ethics complaint against Gosen because “they are confidential.”
Gosen left the Capitol shortly after officially submitting his resignation letter and did not respond to requests for comment by The Star. However, he told The Associated Press his resignation was over “some personal issues.” He also refused to elaborate.
“There’ve been some rumors, stories floating around the Capitol the last week — some true, some not true,” Gosen said. “And with those come some personal issues that I’m addressing at home — none of those related to legislative duties, legislative activities.”
Gosen, 53, lives in Chesterfield, where he is an insurance agent. He is married and has three children.
Rep. Linda Black, a Republican from southeast Missouri, said she is aware of the situation that motivated Gosen’s resignation because it involved one of her friends. But she declined to provide any details.
That friend, Black said, does not work in the Capitol.
Gosen is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia. He was first elected to the House in 2010 and has been chairman of the House Insurance Committee since 2011.
Rumors that he was going to resign have been floating around the Capitol for days. The announcement comes less than a year after former House Speaker John Diehl, also a St. Louis County Republican, was forced to resign after The Star revealed he’d been exchanging sexually charged text messages with a 19-year-old House intern.
Former Sen. Paul LeVota, an Independence Democrat, resigned months later amid sexual harassment allegations from a pair of former interns.
And over the course of the summer, dozens of women — current and former interns, staff, lobbyists and lawmakers — told The Star that a culture of sexual harassment was pervasive in the Capitol.
Since those scandals, the House has approved new sexual harassment and intern policies that include a ban on romantic relationships between lawmakers and staff or interns. Additionally, a series of ethics reform bills have quickly made their way through the legislative process, clearing the House last month and expected to be debated in the Senate potentially this week.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described Rep. Linda Black’s statement on a possible ethics complaint. She said that if a complaint was filed it would go to the House clerk’s office. The story has been updated to correct that mistake.