Eric Greitens will leave office as Missouri governor effective on Friday, resigning as multiple investigations of his conduct in office and as a candidate began picking up steam. Greitens made a public announcement of his resignation in an angry statement, blaming political opponents for the scandals surrounding him, claiming that they were “designed” to run him out of office and cause pain to his family. “I have not broken any laws or committed any offense worthy of this treatment,” Greitens declared:
— ABC News (@ABC) May 29, 2018
Greitens claimed that the time had come to tend to the “wounded” of the scandal, mainly himself. However, the resignation appears to have been prompted by two legal reversals earlier in the day. First, a judge ruled that Greitens had to comply with subpoenas from the state legislature:
Earlier Tuesday, a Cole County judge ruled the governor and his allies must comply with two subpoenas from the panel seeking information about the nonprofit A New Missouri and his campaign fund — despite protests from Greitens’ legal team.
Circuit Judge Jon E. Beetem said the House committee investigating Greitens was within its rights to ask for the documents as it probes whether the Republican governor should be impeached and booted from office.
“The Court finds the requests are within the authority of the requestor,” Beetem wrote in his six-page decision. “The Court further finds and believes that time is of the essence and production should begin immediately and, absent good cause shown, said production should be completed by June 1, 2018.”
Also earlier today, Greitens campaign adviser Michael Hafner testified to a legislative committee that he had been paid by Greitens through one of his businesses rather than by a campaign committee as required by state law. Hafner told Greitens to form the committee rather than route the money around it, but “obviously he disregarded it,” Hafner told the committee. He also testified that Greitens discussed raising money from foreign donors, which would have been a violation of federal law, but Hafner said he left the campaign while those discussions were going on.
In other words, despite Greitens’ angry words, the legal situation went from bad to worse today. Greitens caught a break when prosecutors withdrew a felony invasion of privacy charge two weeks ago, which he called a “great victory,” but it was short-lived. Greitens had been subpoenaed to testify before the legislature next week, and the walls were closing in on him in that venue.
Greitens’ resignation will make Lt. Gov. Mike Parsons the state’s new chief executive, a result hailed by Attorney General and US Senate hopeful Josh Hawley:
Parson, 62, was not in the Capitol when Greitens announced his plan. His chief of staff, Ward Franz, said was unsure if the farmer from Bolivar had spoken with Greitens before the announcement. Franz said a statement from Parson would be forthcoming.
“I think you’ll be pleased with him as governor,” Franz said. …
Attorney General Josh Hawley, who is investigating Greitens and had called on him to resign, has seen his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat help by Democrat Claire McCaskill damaged by Greitens’ controversies.
“Governor Greitens has done the right thing today,” Hawley said in a statement. “I wish incoming Governor Mike Parson well, and stand ready to assist him in his transition. This Office’s work for the people of Missouri goes forward.”
At the very least, Greitens’ resignation removes a major distraction for Republicans in the Senate race. It may not end Greitens’ legal troubles, but it will make them Greitens’ own problems rather than the party’s.