CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Members of House of Delegates introduced Thursday two resolutions proposing actions against Delegate Mike Caputo, D-Marion, after an incident last week that left an assistant doorkeeper injured.
House Resolution 20 proposes to censure Caputo, compared to House Resolution 21 which proposes to expel him from office. Neither were acted upon Thursday night when they were introduced after 8:30 p.m. Both measures were placed on Friday’s special calendar as unfinished business.
Caputo’s actions are connected to an anti-Muslim display at the state Capitol on March 1; the display, which was set up on a “Republicans Take the Rotunda” event, included a picture of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 juxtaposed next to an image of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., one of two Muslim women elected to Congress.
An upset Caputo kicked open the door. He later apologized for his actions and lost his committee assignments for the rest of the legislative session.
HR 20 has 29 Republican sponsors. It refers to the March 1 incident and alleges that Caputo injured and verbally abused the chamber’s doorkeeper.
“The House of Delegates vehemently condemns acts of violence, bullying and verbal assault as a means of expressing political discontent,” the resolution states, adding “the House of Delegates hereby censures Delegate Mike Caputo for his disorderly conduct and physical assault upon an assistant doorkeeper.”
HR 21 has just one sponsor, Delegate Marshall Wilson, R-Berkeley, who on the opening day of the 2018 session unsuccessfully attempted to have then-Speaker Tim Armstead unseated.
The measure goes into more detail about the incident and Caputo’s alleged profane statements at the time, and additionally sites at length Caputo’s subsequent floor speech where he admitted he kicked the door.
It also accuses Minority Leader Tim Miley, D-Harrison, of taking no action against Caputo despite being granted time by Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, to do so.
The resolution cites House Rule 32, which prohibits indecorous behavior, but adds there are no rules regarding violence.
“When the conduct of a member goes so far outside that which is expected of a representative of the citizens of this state, the remaining members must act to preserve the honor and credibility of that body,” the resolution states. “Not to act and repudiate such conduct destroys the credibility of the House and the faith of the people in their government.”
It calls for a two-thirds vote of the members, 67 votes, to expel Caputo from the body for the remainder of his term of office.
After the session adjourned, Caputo declined to comment, saying he’d prefer to see what happens on Friday.
The state AFL-CIO, which lobbies for labor unions, put out a statement earlier this week in support of Caputo. The AFL-CIO said Caputo became angry while speaking out against an anti-Muslim display that was part of “WV GOP Day” at the Legislature.
“As a result, Delegate Mike Caputo faces the threat of additional sanctions despite his repeated and sincere apologies, the lack of proof that anyone, including the doorkeeper, was actually injured, and the fact that the Speaker has already removed him from his committee positions.”