In a historic vote, the US House of Representatives has expelled a congressman for the first time in almost 120 years. Just hours before the House recessed for election campaigns on Oct. 2, it ousted Congressman Michael (Ozzie) Myers (D) of Pennsylvania by a 376-to-30 vote for accepting a bribe. The vote was far more than the two- thirds required by the Constitution.
Representative Myers is the first congressman to be tried and convicted for bribery out of the FBI Abscam investigation. House members were apparently deeply disturbed by videotapes showing Myers taking a $50,000 bribe from FBI undercover agents. They soundly rejected a move to postpone the vote until November.
"I owe this House an apology," Myers told his colleagues, adding that he had been entrapped by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Myers is the first congressman ever to be expelled for corruption. Seventeen members were kicked out for treason during the Civil War.
The stern and rapid action on Myers sets a precedent for other cases in the recent Abscam investigation. In all, six congressmen have been charged with taking bribes.
Congressman Myers told reporters after the vote that he is suing the House of Representatives and its speaker for denying him due process. Despite his expulsion, Myers is running for re-election and could return to Congress next term.
In moving to expel Myers, Congressman Charles E. Bennett (D) of Florida, chairman of House ethics committee, said, "The integrity of the House is at stake. As painful as it is, I ask the House of Representatives to expel Rep. Michael Myers."
Louisiana Republican Robert L. Livingston called on the House to "send a message to the people that we will not tolerate the sale of this body on the auction block."