Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is off to an impressive start.
Unfortunately, the governor risks losing that goodwill if he issues a blanket pardon to his predecessor, Eric Greitens.
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“We haven’t even looked into that,” Parson told reporters. “We are not even close to that decision now.”
There is no decision to be made, Governor. Any effort to short-circuit a legal reckoning for Greitens would be wrong.
We criticized parts of the secret deal between Greitens and the St. Louis prosecutor that let the former governor escape a jury’s judgment for use of a donor list compiled for his charity.
But at least the people got something in return for the dropped charge: Greitens’ resignation. The agreement also yielded an admission from Greitens that the state had enough evidence to take the case to court, an important concession from a defendant who continues to proclaim innocence.
Special prosecutor Jean Peters Baker is now examining allegations involving Greitens’ interactions with a mistress before he was elected governor. A decision on filing criminal charges may come Friday.
It’s possible Baker will decline to file criminal charges against Greitens. If so, the former governor likely will be out of legal jeopardy.
Her decision will be based on facts and the prosecutor’s judgment. A pardon would damage the public’s faith in the justice system and potentially deprive Missourians of a full accounting of Greitens’ behavior.
A pardon is tempting, of course. It would clear the deck of the Greitens scandals and give Parson a fresh start.
But the only way to truly begin anew is to fully understand Greitens’ actions and to study ways to prevent similar imbroglios in the future.
That’s why the House should extend the work of the Greitens committee so it can issue a final report of its findings. It’s why the civil case involving the use of a secret texting app should continue. It’s why the dark money probe should go on.
And it’s why any legal case against the governor should not be derailed.
History’s judgment of Eric Greitens is important — for Missourians and for Greitens, who is likely to re-emerge publicly at some point. The record should be full and factual.
A pardon would make that impossible. The new governor should abandon any thought of letting Greitens off the hook before the legal process is over.