The Missouri House gave initial approval Tuesday to a bill that would make it a felony to threaten someone with publicizing a private sexually explicit image — although the bill’s sponsor insists it has nothing to do with the allegations surrounding Gov. Eric Greitens.
Greitens has admitted he had an extramarital affair in 2015. He is under criminal investigation for allegedly threatening to release a nude photograph of the woman, taken while she was blindfolded and her hands were bound, if she spoke about the affair.
Investigators from St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office spoke with at least two dozen Missouri lawmakers last week as part of that criminal investigation.
The bill debated and given initial approval by the House on Tuesday originally focused on “revenge porn,” making it a class D felony to share sexually explicit images or recordings without the consent of the person pictured. It did not apply to any of the allegations in the Greitens case.
But the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Jim Neely of Cameron, offered an amendment expanding the bill and creating a class E felony for those who even threaten to disseminate “private sexual images.”
He told The Star after the vote that the idea behind the amendment had nothing to do with the governor. This is the second year he sponsored the legislation, Neely said, and the amendment was the result of continued study of the issue and conversations with his fellow lawmakers.
Not everyone was convinced.
“I’d ask everyone to say no to blindfolds and duct tape and support this amendment,” Rep. Brandon Ellington, a Kansas City Democrat, said while debating the amendment.
Other than Ellington’s comment, however, the governor was never mentioned or alluded to. It took only 10 minutes for the amendment and the bill to receive initial approval on a voice vote.
The House will have to vote one more time before the bill will go to the Senate.
Thirty-eight states have outlawed revenge porn. This is the fourth year Missouri lawmakers have pushed to follow suit.