Editorials

How many felony charges will Gov. Greitens face before he does the right thing and resigns?

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens AP

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ legal problems grew Tuesday, providing more evidence that he should resign or be impeached as quickly as possible.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley — like Greitens, a Republican — said his office has found evidence the governor obtained and transmitted a donor list from The Mission Continues, a charity the governor founded before taking office.

“Mr. Greitens … used that list for political fundraising,” Hawley said. “He did all of this without the permission of The Mission Continues.”

The use is “electronic theft,” Hawley said. Because the value of the fundraising list exceeds $500, the governor may be guilty of a felony.

In a statement, Greitens’ lawyer called the case a “non-issue,” and Hawley’s announcement “inappropriate.”

Hawley can’t prosecute the case. He gave the evidence to St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, the same prosecutor pursuing a felony charge against Greitens for allegedly invading the privacy of a woman with whom he was having an affair.

The prosecutor faces an unclear statute of limitations deadline for filing charges in connection with the donor list. She should complete her review quickly.

Hawley has also provided the evidence to the House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight. The committee is expected to make a recommendation to the full House regarding an impeachment resolution.

It is now clear to everyone in Missouri that Greitens’ political and moral authority to conduct the state’s business is hopelessly compromised.

A grand jury has found probable cause that Greitens illegally took a photograph of a bound, partially nude woman without her permission — a felony. The woman told the House committee she was abused and assaulted, sworn testimony the committee said was credible.

Now the attorney general says he’s found evidence Greitens accessed a donor list, another potential felony.

He must leave office.

The governor’s few defenders will continue to search for technicalities to get Greitens off the legal hook. It’s sad, particularly for a governor who professes to believe in law and order.

But Greitens’ legal exposure is just part of the problem. The General Assembly can impeach the governor and remove him from office for misconduct, corruption in office, incompetency or moral turpitude.

Lawmakers should hold the governor to those standards of judgment. An impeachment resolution must be introduced without delay.

We reject the suggestion that Hawley is biased against the governor and should recuse himself from the Mission Continues investigation. Hawley has called on Greitens to quit because of the sexual assault allegations. Those claims are distinct from the donor list scandal.

Allegations that Hawley, a U.S. Senate candidate, is pursuing Greitens for political reasons also appear unfounded. Had the attorney general found credible evidence of a crime and ignored it, he would have faced justified claims of political favoritism.

Hawley had to do what he’s done.

Eric Greitens is subjecting his constituents to a spectacle that is growing worse by the hour. He should resign now because Missouri needs a governor.

  Comments