Over the five tumultuous months that led to his predecessor's resigning from office, Gov. Mike Parson said Monday, state lawmakers acted with "care, prudence and professionalism" as they "sought the truth."
"I am in awe, once again, of the fortitude of our state's institutions," Parson told a joint session of the Missouri General Assembly. He later added that during the legislative session, "you respected each other, you respected the process, and you respected the people of this state. "
Parson, who took over as governor a little more than a week ago upon the resignation of Eric Greitens, never mentioned his predecessor by name. But throughout his short remarks Monday, the specter of the months of scandal that upended Greitens' tenure as governor was clearly present.
"We should expect criticism and understand some of it is unfair," Parson said. "But we must always take responsibility for our own actions."
Most of all, Parson said, "we must remember that we serve the people and the state of Missouri, not the other way around."
"Sadly," he added, "much of the political turmoil that has engulfed our state is a result of these truths being forgotten."
Parson harkened back to what he said when he took the oath of office, saying it was time for a "fresh start for our state."
But the questions swirling around Greitens, and the future of of the House investigation into allegations of wrongdoing against him, have not gone away.
The House dropped its efforts to enforce a subpoena demanding that Greitens' dark-money nonprofit, A New Missouri Inc., turn over documents lawmakers thought could prove efforts to illegally circumvent Missouri campaign finance law.
A New Missouri's donors were anxious that the House investigation might expose who was bankrolling the nonprofit and set a precedent for revealing anonymous political contributions.
Equally unclear is a House probe into the origins of $120,000 paid to an attorney representing the ex-husband of the woman who accused Greitens of sexually coercive and physically violent misconduct during a 2015 extramarital affair.
The House has vowed to get to the bottom of who paid that money, which is thought to have contributed to the accusations against Greitens becoming public and the cascading scandals that ultimately drove him from office.
The status of the legislature's investigation is unclear. House leaders did not respond to a request for comment about the inquiry, nor did they speak to reporters after the adjournment of the special session originally called to consider impeaching Greitens. The investigative committee's chairman, Rep. Jay Barnes, declined comment.
Parson called for lawmakers to join him to try to "elevate the tone of our political discourse" and to "recommit ourselves to the values that made our system of government the envy of the world."
He is confident, Parson said, that "our wounds will heal and the bonds that bind us together as Missourians will strengthen."