UPDATE: House Expels State Rep. Henriquez
It’s the first time in 98 years that an elected official has been voted out.
After nearly two hours of testimony on Thursday, the House of Representatives voted 146 to 5 in favor of expelling an elected official serving time behind bars for assaulting his former girlfriend.
The vote to vacate State Rep. Carlos Henriquez’s seat came a day after an Ethics Committee issued a report outlining their findings, and recommending to the House that Henriquez be relieved of his duty as an elected official representing Dorchester. Thursday’s vote marks the first time in nearly a century that the House has voted to expel a person that holds office.
“After a thoughtful debate, the House voted 143-5 to follow the recommendation of the House Committee on Ethics to expel Carlos Henriquez. The committee conducted an independent investigation, reviewing 11 police reports, 78 exhibits, and nearly 1000 pages of trial testimony, and found that a representative could not serve as a member while incarcerated in jail after being convicted of two charges of a serious nature,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo, following the decision. “With that vote completed, the House will now move forward to address the budget, gun safety, domestic violence and other important legislative matters.”
Henriquez was afforded a chance to make a case in defense of the call for his expulsion, and used that opportunity to again maintain his innocence in regards to the assault conviction handed down last month. Henriquez told the crowded floor on Beacon Hill that “the truth” is that he never placed a hand on his accuser, back in 2012. “I never touched my accuser in any way, at any point in time,” he said.
His testimony and claims of innocence carried a similar tune to a five-page statement Henriquez Tweeted out to followers on Wednesday, which outlined “facts” and “opinions” about his case and conviction.
Some legislators tried—but failed—to introduce an amendment to the vote, which would have lessened the severity of Herniquez’s punishment, and allowed him to retain his seat as a Dorchester representative while he served his six month sentence in jail.
Henriquez was convicted of assault on January 15. A six-member jury acquitted the elected official on three other charges stemming from the 2012 incident involving his then-girlfriend, including intimidation of a witness. He has maintained his innocence throughout the process.
State elected officials on Beacon Hill have been trying to figure out what’s next for State Rep. Carlos Henriquez, who was convicted last month of assaulting his former girlfriend in a rental car in Arlington in 2012, and sentenced to six months behind bars.
But on Wednesday, a day after he sat before fellow legislators during an Ethics Committee hearing to discuss the fate of his seat, Henriquez took to his official Twitter account to “separate opinion from fact” when it comes to his case, and role as a Dorchester representative.
“Everyone has an opinion, to which each of us is entitled. We are also all capable of seeking facts through effort and critical independent thought. Facts can be proven,” Henriquez said, in a five-page statement that was posted online. “On July 7, 2012 my life was forever changed by the events that occurred that night and the false accusations that followed… contrary to what my accuser has said,domestic violence has never been perpetrated by me on [that] night, or any other”
While Henriquez has maintained his innocence and has been weighing whether or not to officially resign from his seat—Governor Deval Patrick and others have recommended that he should—the Ethics Committee called for the legislator’s expulsion during the formal meeting at the State House on Tuesday.
It was the third time the committee gathered with Henriquez present and in handcuffs in the last few weeks.
“The Representative was convicted of serious charges by a jury and found to have violated the Rules of the House. I will vote to follow the committee’s recommendation to expel him,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo, following the hearing on Wednesday.
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the fate of Henriquez’s position on Beacon Hill during a gathering on Thursday, which will be based on the Ethics Committee’s report.
According to the State House News Service, the last time a House member was expelled was nearly 100 years ago, and if Henriquez were to follow in that path, it would only be the third time since 1906 that the legislature made such a move.
The lengthy statement put out by Henriquez, bashing legislators, the court, and the media, provided detailed bullet points that he said to separate what is true, and what is the formed opinion of the general public, based on the allegations and the outcome of his trial and eventual jury conviction. It was the first response he has made publicly, aside from an exclusive interview with the Boston Globe, and a statement submitted to the committee regarding his pending case on Beacon Hill.
“Once the trial began, I believed that the facts of that night would come to light and that regardless of the jury selected, the variation in [the victim’s] reports to police officers and the lack of physical evidence would raise enough doubt that I would be found innocent,” Henriquez said. “It is a fact that I willingly appeared before the House Ethics Committee, knowing I would be in shackles and aware of how the media would exploit that image. It is my opinion that while being shackled bothers me, it is minor compared to being falsely accused, convicted and incarcerated.”
Henriquez, who was chastised by a judge during his trial for not showing remorse for the allegations of abuse he was convicted of, said the reason he didn’t show remorse was because it would show he was admitting guilt. “Therefore, asking me to show remorse after the verdict is a violation of my 5th Amendment rights,” he said.
Regardless of his claims, Henriquez remains behind bars, and on Thursday, based on the committee’s opinion, he will learn whether or not his seat as a representative will be vacated.
“The House of Representatives has broad, inherent power to discipline its own members—a power that has been long recognized by the Supreme Judicial Court,” the Committee said in their report. “The House may discipline its members in many ways, including, without limitation, through reprimand, censure, or expulsion.”
Henriquez’s full response to the committee’s report and recommendation can be read below.