LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas House voted Friday to expel a member accused of not paying his state income taxes for several years, making him the first person to be kicked out of that chamber since the 1800s.
Lawmakers voted 88-4 to expel Republican state Rep. Mickey Gates, easily eclipsing the two-thirds minimum needed to oust one of their own.
Gates, who was arrested last year and charged with not filing returns from 2012 through 2017, pleaded no contest in July to one count of not filing or paying income taxes and was sentenced to six months of probation.
Republican Speaker Matthew Shepherd sought Gates’ removal after Gates refused to resign. Gates has said he would seek re-election even if he was expelled.
Gates entered his plea under a law for first-time offenders that allows the case to be dismissed after he serves probation and fulfills the other obligations of his plea deal. Under that law, Gates doesn’t have a felony conviction, since a final judgment has been deferred. Gates also agreed to pay at least $74,789 in taxes, penalties and interest owed to the state for 2012 through 2014, and a hearing to determine the remaining amount for 2015 through 2017 will be held in December.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released the following statement:
“The House of Representatives rightfully removed Gates today because he selfishly chose to put his colleagues and Arkansans through this costly spectacle instead of immediately resigning,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Gates lived on the taxpayers’ dime and violated their trust by not properly paying taxes, and therefore, he should never hold another public office.”Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
The last time the Arkansas House removed a member was in 1837, when its speaker was expelled after stabbing another member on the House floor during a debate.