A Missouri Republican and staunch foe of abortion rights abruptly resigned Wednesday, and is now embroiled in a scandal amid allegations that he had an extramarital affair.
Rep. Don Gosen (R-Ballwin) issued a statement Wednesday morning saying he was resigning to “focus on my family,” reported the Kansas City Star. Gosen left the capitol after issuing the statement, which was requested by House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Bluff).
Gosen’s profile was scrubbed from the Missouri legislative website. However, the Rewire database shows that the lawmaker has a long history of sponsoring anti-choice legislation, including a bill to ban the use of telemedicine for abortion care and a bill to ban abortion based on the sex of the fetus or due to diagnosed genetic abnormalities.
The Republican caucus reportedly held a mandatory meeting for all of its members Wednesday morning, disrupting hearings and other legislative activity.
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After Gosen’s resignation, Richardson issued a statement making an apparent reference to previous scandals that have enveloped the legislature over the past year. Former Republican House Speaker John Diehl (R-Town and Country) was forced to resign in May 2015 after he admitted to sending sexually explicit text messages to a capitol intern. Former Sen. Paul LeVota (D-Independence) resigned two months later due to allegations that he sexually harassed interns.
“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, reported the Kansas City Star. “That’s why when I was made aware of the situation, I asked [Gosen] to resign last night.”
A person with knowledge of the situation, who spoke to Rewire on the condition of anonymity, said there are allegations that Gosen had an extramarital affair. The person said there allegedly exists a videotape of a sexual encounter between Gosen and a woman that took place at the capitol. The video is reportedly in the possession of a media outlet.
Rewire emails to Gosen’s personal and capitol addresses for comment were not returned by press time.
Gosen, before leaving the capitol, seemed to indirectly address allegations of sexual impropriety in a statement to the Associated Press. “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.”
Rep. Linda Black (R-Desloge) told the Kansas City Star that Gosen’s resignation involved one of her friends, but she declined to give details.
Black was elected as a Democrat to the Missouri house during the 2014 midterm election. The day after she was elected, Black switched parties because she could not “square my social and moral beliefs” with the Democratic Party.
Gosen was first elected to the House in 2010 and served as the chairman of the House Insurance Committee. He is married and has three children.
Gosen told St. Louis Public Radio that he did not regret his time as a state lawmaker.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here very much,” Gosen said. “I think the opportunity in the Missouri House and the Missouri Senate and any role up here in Jefferson City is an amazing opportunity. We’ve got a group of great people up here from both sides of the aisle taking advantage of that opportunity to serve their constituents.”
Rep. Deb Lavender (D-Kirkwood) told Rewire that the Democratic caucus is disappointed that the incident has prevented legislative work from being done, as the Republican caucus was in a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning to address Gosen’s resignation.
Referring to the allegations surrounding Gosen’s behavior, Lavender said, “If indeed this rumor is true, then I continue to be dismayed to work in a capitol where this behavior seems to be unchecked, and that it continues to interfere with the business of the people our state.”
Lavender said she is dismayed at the continued scandals that have often derailed Missouri’s GOP-dominated legislature. “Given our last legislative session, how would we not want to root out any further existing issues, so we can finally put these issue to rest and move forward with the work for our state?” Lavender asked.