Missouri lawmakers announced last week they have the necessary signatures to convene a special session of the Missouri General Assembly to consider the impeachment of Governor Eric Greitens. In recent months the Governor has admitted to an affair with his former hairdresser, been accused of blackmailing her to gain her silence, and of stealing data from a soldiers’ charity he founded before running for governor in 2016. The Missouri Special Session will be the first in the state’s history convened by legislator signatures and not at the request of a Governor.
Lead up to a historic Missouri Special Session
By Missouri law, reconvening the General Assembly without the Governor’s request requires signatures from 75% of members. With Republicans holding large majorities in both the Missouri House and Senate, holding a Missouri Special Session without the approval of sitting Republican Governor like Greitens would normally be out of the question.
But ever since Greitens was publicly exposed in January as having had an affair with an unnamed St Louis hairdresser in the early stages of his campaign, things have been anything but normal in Missouri.
First Greitens apologized publicly to his wife, but then accusations arose that he had allegedly not only had an affair, but had attempted to blackmail his mistress into silence.
The St Louis Circuit Attorney began investigating, and in late February The Missouri House of Representatives began investigating.
The Missouri House of Representatives then launched its own investigation, and its findings called into question the nature of Greitens’ affair in the first place. According to published testimony, elements of the relationship may not have been consensual.
In late April, things went from very, very bad for Greitens to much, much worse when the St Louis Circuit Attorney issued a second indictment against the Governor, this time for computer tampering. Greitens allegedly stole a database of contributors from the military charity he founded, the Mission Continues, to use in his successful gubernatorial campaign.
With calls for his resignation coming continuing, and the Missouri General Assembly session set to finish on May 18th, members of his own Republican Party have taken the extraordinary step of calling a Missouri Special Session to consider his impeachment. The 30 day session will begin at 6:30pm on May 18th – a mere half hour before the previous regular session officially ends.
Greitens’ war on two fronts
The Missouri Special Session creates a second front for Greitens’ legal troubles. The jury trial on the felony invasion of privacy charge begins on May 14th – only four days before. With no regular business to attend to, Missouri lawmakers will have the freedom of movement to consider an impeachment carefully, while Greitens will be forced to defend himself in court rather than lobbying for votes in his favour.
Despite being the first Missouri Governor to face felony charges, let alone two, Greitens appears determined to try and ride out the storm of controversies. His legal team are doing their best to prevent his former mistress from testifying in the upcoming trial, and are carefully considering whether or not he should take the stand in his own defense.
No matter how successful Greitens’ case in the courtroom is, his political career has been substantially damaged in recent months. Once seen as a future Presidential hopeful, the only question now is whether he can hang on till the end of this term or be forced out before then. Grietens received a substantial boost, of sorts, yesterday when Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt has called on Missourians to let the legal process take its course.
Even though the process will take time, and impeachment by the Missouri Special Session may be a quicker way to oust Greitens than the legal proceedings. Many in the state are impatient at what they see as a huge embarrassment. The Kansas City Star summed up the mood of many fed-up state residents when it said in an editorial yesterday:
“If Greitens refuses to do the right thing, Missouri must rally to remove its unfit governor. Only then can the state push forward to a new day.”