Fallout after Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens announces resignation Tuesday
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens will resign from office by the end of this week, effective 5 p.m. Friday. He spoke briefly with media Tuesday afternoon and now area politicians react with little surprise.
"This ordeal has been designed to cause an incredible amount of strain on my family," Greitens explained. "Millions of dollars of mounting legal bills, endless personal attacks designed to cause maximum damage to family and friends."
Greitens is accused of taking a compromising photo of a woman he had an affair with in 2015 before he was Governor. He also faces legal issues of using a charity donor list to rally support for his campaign for governor.
"This is known as computer tampering, it is a felony," Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said back in April 2018.
But Greitens continued to deny that charge Tuesday afternoon when he spoke with media at his office in Jefferson City.
"I know and people of good faith know," Greitens elaborated. "I am not perfect but I have not broken any laws or committed any offense worthy of this treatment."
Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Mike Parson will be stepping in as governor in the interim.
"Right now, Governor Greitens is still the Governor of the state of Missouri," Parson explained. "I'm the Lieutenant, we're going to function that way until Friday."
KHQA spoke with local political expert Justin Coffey, who said there's really no legal precedent in Missouri as to how the Lt. Gov. position will be filled.
"Missouri could be looking at a vacancy for Lieutenant Gov. until the 2020 election," Coffey explained. "I expect Missouri legislation to act quickly. This will either allow a special election for Lieutenant Gov. or allow Mike Parson to appoint an acting Lieutenant Gov."
"I don't know really, we're just trying to grasp everything like everyone else is and we just have to kind of figure that out," Parson said.
But Republican State Representative Craig Redmon, who had previously defended the Governor, told KHQA if this were to happen, now is the time.
"I would say we are probably not going to miss too many beats," Redmon said. "We are out of session right now. Most of the legislation work is done and just be kind of getting ready for next year at this point."
Meanwhile, State Rep. Lindell Shumake said he is surprised by the Governor's decision to resign.
"Being that Navy seal, that fighter," Shumake explained. "I thought he would stick to it through the end."
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri was in Hannibal before the news broke Tuesday. He later issued a statement saying, in part, that "The governor made the best decision for his family and the state."
Which is exactly what Greitens pointed to in his resignation speech Tuesday.
"It's clear the forces that oppose us, there is no end in sight," Greitens said. "I cannot allow those forces to continue to cause pain and difficulty to the people that I love."
Timeline of events leading up to the Governor's resignation.
- He was indicted back in February on a felony invasion of privacy charge related to an extramarital affair.
- Then, in March, a house committee began investigating campaign fraud allegations surrounding a Greitens' charity donor list used for his political campaign.
- Then, in April, prosecutors slapped Greitens with a felony computer data tampering charge related to that charity donor list.
- And getting us up to speed this month - Missouri lawmakers historically called a special session to explore impeachment of the Governor at the beginning of May.
- Meanwhile, that felony invasion of privacy case against the Governor went to court, jury selection was underway when prosecutors unexpectedly dropped the charge over a rare procedural oddity.
- A special prosecutor was appointed after that - but now that he's stepping down, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner says her office has reached a "fair and just resolution" on criminal charges against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens. She says, details won't be released until Wednesday. Her full statement is available here.