The chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party on Wednesday slammed Gov. Eric Greitens’ decision to invite a donor who faces accusations of sexual abuse to sit on the inaugural stage just a few feet from where Greitens took the oath of office.
Michael Goguen is a Silicon Valley investor who donated $1 million last year to Greitens’ campaign for governor. Not long after making the donations, Goguen was sued by a woman alleging he sexually, physically and emotionally abused her for 13 years, then reneged on an agreement to pay her $40 million to halt a personal injury lawsuit.
Goguen denies the sexual abuse allegations and filed a counter-suit against the woman claiming extortion.
Greitens faced pressure last summer during the Republican gubernatorial primary from his GOP rivals to return Goguen’s donations. Former Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder called the donations “the dirtiest money that has ever been brought into any Missouri campaign,” while former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway said keeping the money raised questions about Greitens’ judgment.
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Yet Greitens refused to disavow Goguen or return the money, saying he wanted the legal process to play out before jumping to conclusions.
On Monday, as Greitens took the oath of office and delivered his inaugural address, Goguen sat on the stage behind him alongside elected officials and other invited guests. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that also on stage with Greitens was Nick Ayers, a California-based political consultant with ties to $2 million in anonymous contributions to Greitens’ campaign.
Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber, noting that Greitens has made ethics reform and cleaning up the culture of state government a top priority, accused the new governor of hypocrisy.
“Ethical leadership should be about more than just words,” Webber said. “True ethical leadership means associating with ethical people and having transparency in where your campaign money comes from. On both of these key tests, our new governor has failed his first critical test.”
“It’s disturbing,” Webber said, “to see Grietens elevate someone like (Goguen) to a place of honor solely because he was a mega-donor to the governor’s campaign.”
Greitens’ spokesman declined to comment. The governor faced similar attacks from Democrats last month over his decision to hire a former Huffington Post editor who has faced accusations of sexual harassment.