Legislators react to report on Greitens, charity donor list
Missouri lawmakers who want to see Gov. Eric Greitens resign are growing impatient as allegations of misconduct mount against him.
The latest report by a special Missouri House committee investigating Greitens says he took a list of donors from a charity he founded, called The Mission Continues, to use in his political campaign and then lied about it to the Missouri Ethics Commission.
“The report shows the governor took advantage of a charity that works hard to take care of our veterans," said Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, the chair of the special committee. "The committee found that the Mission Continues was the true owner of the fundraising list and its property was taken without permission and used inappropriately for political gain.”
Greitens has been plagued for months by multiple allegations of varying forms of misconduct and members of both parties calling on him to resign. Rep. Nate Walker, R-Kirksville, first urged Greitens to resign shortly after allegations emerged in January that Greitens attempted to blackmail a woman to silence her about their 2015 affair.
"It was good advice I gave him back in January and if he had taken that advice, I think his world would be much better," Walker said. "But we'll see how the impeachment process plays out. Impeachment may come sooner than later."
The special committee report added fodder for lawmakers, like Walker, who have already called on Greitens to resign. But lawmakers appear split on how to move forward.
House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, said he "stole from a charity for veterans and committed this theft to further his political career."
"The man is without honor, without scruples and is utterly lacking in the moral authority necessary to effectively govern," Beatty said. "As has been clear for weeks, he has only two choices — resign or face impeachment. With the evidence against him mounting with each passing day, there is no other way this ends.”
Republican leaders in the House and Senate have already asked Greitens to resign over the allegations of abuse and blackmail stemming from his affair. Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, called for Greitens' immediate impeachment if he refuses.
House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, did not renew his call for Greitens' resignation Wednesday.
“We have remained committed to the process of meticulously gathering the facts of all of the governor’s actions, not rushing to judgment, and letting those facts speak for themselves,” Richardson said in a statement. “The committee’s second report is another step in the process of that thorough review.”
Richardson wants lawmakers to decide what to do with the governor during a special session this summer. Calling legislators back to Jefferson City for a special session would require 123 signatures. The House has 114 Republicans.
Walker and Rep. Jean Evans, R-Manchester, said they signed the petition.
"We want to give (the committee) time to complete their work," Evans said. "And so that's why myself and many others have signed this petition to call ourselves into a special session so we don't judge the facts prematurely and we allow the committee to finish their work. The other thing I would say is, I think everybody really wants to hear the governor's side of the story."
Rep. Robert Cornejo, R-St. Peters, said he wants to committee’s investigation to continue and was not ready to call for the governor’s impeachment. He said many in his party aren’t ready to remove the governor until they’ve heard his side of the story on the various scandals.
“The [Republican] caucus would like to see the governor come in and speak with us,” he said.
Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, said he didn't plan to sign it.
"I think we probably have sufficient information if we want to file articles of impeachment. We have what we need, I think," Moon said, though he did not say whether Greitens should resign or be impeached.
Republicans held a caucus meeting in the basement of the Statehouse before the report was released. Several declined to comment on the report or rushed away from reporters on their way to a House floor session.
Some Democrats would like to see impeachment begin sooner and urged Richardson to take up the issue in a news release Wednesday.
Beatty filed a resolution that would authorize the special committee to introduce articles of impeachment, but it has not been referred to a committee for discussion.
Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, said in a statement it had been more than two weeks since Democrats filed the resolution.
"The president pro tem of the Senate has called for immediate impeachment, and the attorney general has confirmed that we have sufficient cause for impeachment, but the responsibility to impeach begins in the House," Merideth said.
Rep. Michael Butler, D-St. Louis, said in the release that Democrats are "demanding action."
"Enough is enough. The people of Missouri are waiting for us to act," Butler said.
Rep. Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said on Twitter that it was "frustrating sexual assault and blackmail wasn't enough." She said she hoped the new allegations would show Republicans that Greitens is "unfit to lead."
The report that Greitens took a donor list from The Mission Continues to use in his campaign comes after news Attorney General Josh Hawley's office uncovered possible criminal wrongdoing in the case. The committee also issued a report last month detailing alleged abuse and blackmail by the governor stemming from his affair. Members found the woman at the heart of the allegations credible.
Greitens faces a criminal charge of felony computer tampering in The Mission Continues case and a charge of felony invasion of privacy stemming from the affair.