Mass. House Expels First Member In Nearly A Century

The Massachusetts House voted overwhelmingly to expel Rep. Carlos Henriquez on Thursday. Henriquez is serving a six-month jail sentence for assaulting a former girlfriend.

The chairman of the chamber’s ethics committee, David Nangle of Lowell, encouraged the House to expel Henriquez.

“We cannot lose sight of the fact there is a victim involved,” Nangle said. “There is a victim of a violent domestic crime.”

Henriquez was convicted last month of holding down his then girlfriend and punching her in the chest when she wouldn’t have sex with him. Photos of the bruised body of Henriquez’ victim were available for representatives to view outside the House chamber.

Henriquez was allowed out of jail for the debate and defended himself from the House floor.

“My reputation has been attacked and severely damaged,” Henriquez said. “My livelihood and freedom taken. My character forever called into question. The truth is I never touched my accuser in any way at any point in time that would result in harm or injury.”

The representative went on to say that domestic violence is a cowardly and shameful act. He said the all-white make up of his jury raised questions about the trial’s fairness. And he ended his speech with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt.

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right…for you’ll be criticized anyway,” he said.

Before the vote, the NAACP sent out a statement urging lawmakers not to expel Henriquez, saying it did not believe House Rules allowed for a member to be expelled due to misdemeanor convictions.

Only ten members voted for a lesser punishment – censure. One hundred-forty-six voted to remove Henriquez from office.

The last time a member of the House was expelled was in 1916.