Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who has been engulfed in scandal after blackmail allegations, has postponed a string of events this week to promote his proposed tax cuts.
Greitens had been scheduled to tour businesses around the state, including stops Thursday in Riverside and St. Joseph, in an effort to build support for the plan that he promised in last week’s State of the State address would be “the boldest state tax reform in America.”
But an event page that previously listed six events now lists nothing.
The proposed tax cuts were intended to be Greitens’ main policy goal for his second year in office and one of the focal points of this year’s legislative session.
But within hours of making the speech, Greitens faced allegations that three years ago he took a nude photograph of a woman while she was blindfolded and bound in an effort to intimidate her from speaking about their extramarital affair.
Greitens has admitted to the affair but through his attorney has vehemently denied the blackmail allegations, which were first reported by KMOV-TV in St. Louis after the woman’s ex-husband came forward with an audio recording of his former wife making the claims.
The woman, who was unaware she was being recorded, has asked for privacy.
The controversy has called into question whether Greitens will be able to survive his second year in office in the face of a criminal investigation in St. Louis and calls from Democratic lawmakers for him to step down.
Greitens had been scheduled to visit Altec Industries’ facility in St. Joseph. But company vice president Colby Edwards said Altec, which sells utility equipment, received a phone call from the governor’s office late Friday, two days after the allegations surfaced, asking to push back the appearance until the week of Jan. 22.
Edwards said that the governor’s office has not yet provided a specific date or time, but the company is still expecting the visit this month.
Parker Briden, the governor’s spokesman, said in an email that the governor “is committed to rolling out his plan to cut taxes for working families, and will lay out his principles for tax reform this week. The tour to promote the plan is being rescheduled.”
Even if the governor does weather the scandal it could severely damage his ability to pass his agenda.
Many Republican lawmakers have voiced support for investigating the allegations and at least one, Sen. Gary Romine of Farmington, has raised the possibility of impeachment if an investigation does not exonerate the governor.
A poll that was conducted on the heels of the scandal by Remington Research Group, a GOP-leaning firm, shows that the governor’s brand has been damaged by the scandal.
The poll found that only 32 percent of likely Missouri voters have a favorable opinion of the governor, which is a drop of 10 percentage points from a poll conducted by the same firm a week earlier.
A plurality of voters, 47 percent, have an unfavorable opinion of the governor, an increase of 6 percentage points from the previous week. The remaining 21 percent were undecided.
The poll of 1,002 likely voters was paid for by Missouri Scout and conducted on Jan. 13 and 14, the first weekend after the allegations became public. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.09 percentage points.
The poll found that 37 percent of likely voters believe the governor’s account that he did not blackmail the woman, while 38 percent believed her ex-husband’s allegations. The rest of the respondents either disbelieved both men or were undecided.
Thirty-seven percent of voters said the governor should resign, 43 percent said he should remain in office and the rest were undecided.
In addition to the postponed tour dates, Greitens will not be participating in a Republican rally scheduled for Saturday in Jefferson City.
The rally, which was organized by the Republican National Committee and the Missouri Republican Party, is intended to celebrate President Donald Trump’s first year in office.
Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, State Treasurer Eric Schmitt and U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, whose congressional district includes Jefferson City, will all speak at the event, according to a release by the state party.
Greitens’ name is noticeably absent. Attorney General Josh Hawley, a candidate for U.S. Senate who is investigating Greitens’ staff’s use of a private messaging app, is also not listed on the release.