Gov. Eric Greitens’ picks to lead four state agencies laid out their vision for their respective departments Wednesday to a Missouri Senate committee.
But in a break from the norm, the committee didn’t immediately take a vote on the appointments. Instead, Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, a Joplin Republican who chairs the appointments committee, pushed the vote to next week.
One day after Greitens publicly quarreled with two Republican senators over a proposed legislative pay raise, the move to delay approving the governor’s appointments was seen by many Capitol denizens as Senate leadership sending a message to Greitens.
Asked Wednesday night whether Greitens’ attacks on his fellow Republicans played a part in delaying a vote on his appointments, Richard didn’t dispel the rumor, saying only that the committee didn’t take a vote and “you can read anything into it you want.”
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On Thursday, Richard said the delay was simply to give senators more time to ask questions about the governor’s appointments. He expects they’ll be voted out of committee on Wednesday.
Greitens didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Monday night, as the Senate debated a proposed pay increase, Greitens camped out in Richard’s office and met individually with senators rumored to be supportive of the increase. Hours later the pay hike was rejected, but not before a handful of senators publicly called on the governor to apologize for behavior during those meetings that they described as insulting and disrespectful.
Greitens refused to apologize, instead posting a message on Facebook on Tuesday lashing out at the two Republican senators who voted to accept the pay raise — Paul Wieland of Jefferson County and Denny Hoskins of Warrensburg.
He continued to attack Wieland in interviews with radio stations in Wieland’s district later that day.
For their part, both Wieland and Hoskins have not returned fire, nor have they publicly revealed details of their meetings with the governor. Hoskins said during an interview with The Missouri Times that he met with Greitens and agreed to “let bygones be bygones.”
But several senators have expressed their frustration to senate leaders, both publicly and privately.
Despite the controversy, Greitens’ appointments are expected to easily pass the Senate committee. Whether any lingering tensions could derail the appointments when they get to the full Senate is unclear.