JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Governor Eric Greitens returned from his trip to China and South Korea the week of October 2-6. His office put out a press release saying he arrived on Wednesday and traveled to Virginia to campaign for Republican candidate for Governor Ed Gillespie against Democrat Ralph Northam. In Virginia, he was proud of his response to protests in St. Louis.
On Monday, he tweeted his sympathies from his personal account and not his official account following one of the worst mass shootings in recent American history where a man killed at least 59 people in Las Vegas.
Our prayers are with the people affected by last night’s tragic and evil violence in Las Vegas.
— Eric Greitens (@EricGreitens) October 2, 2017
Greitens’ social media use- as well as other American politicians – has been under recent scrutiny regarding the constitutionality of blocking constituents on social media. Some lawyers claim that it prevents constituents’ free speech, from posting on or accessing their messages on social media.
After a failed Sunshine Law request, the Columbia Missourian reported last week that Greitens’ accounts could be subject to Sunshine Law requests. His office denies that his accounts are subject to requests because they were personal accounts, created before his public life. Subsequently, his office created official Twitter and Facebook account, distinguishing the difference between his personal and professional accounts.
His proclivity for using social media, rather than holding conventional press conferences raises questions about his transparency as an elected official. His official accounts, while very new, only have a couple hundred followers and friends. On the other hand, his personal accounts have a few hundred thousand. Greitens’ tweet on his personal account and not on any of his official accounts raised questions about his social media use.
On Wednesday, his office reported that last weekend, he returned from his trade mission to China and South Korea. It outlined his visit and meetings with government officials including the American Ambassador to China, China’s Vice Premier, and Vice Governor of Hebei province, Missouri’s sister-state in China. He also met with the South Korean Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and Vice Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises and Start-Ups.
“People around the world are paying attention to what we are doing in Missouri. They are interested in buying our products and investing in job-creating businesses in our state,” Greitens said. “I’m proud to fight for Missouri jobs and Missouri businesses by promoting opportunities for our state overseas.”
On Wednesday, he left for Virginia to campaign for the Republican candidate for Governor of Virginia. The race has become vicious as attacks have frenzied partisan bases – reminiscent of the 2016 presidential election. There, he was joined by Nebraska Republican Governor Pete Ricketts and Iowa Republican Governor Kim Reynolds.
On Thursday, the Kansas City Star reported that on the Virginian campaign trail, was proud of his response to protests in St. Louis. When Greitens was campaigning for Governor himself, he criticized his predecessor’s handling of similar protests in Ferguson, and boasted that he would have peace by the second night. “Everyone in Missouri has the right to freedom of speech and assembly, and those out peacefully protesting will be protected,” he said on Thursday, threatening that vandals were “going to be arrested.”
On Thursday, Greitens’ deputy chief of staff Caleb Jones would be leaving his staff to become Vice President of at the Association of Electric Cooperatives. Jones was a former state representative from HD 50 before resigned to accept a position with Greitens.
“I’m pleased to be joining such a great team,” Jones said in a statement issued Wednesday. “The electric cooperatives have a great reputation for trustworthiness and they work hard to raise the quality of life for rural people. I look forward to using my skills for the benefit of electric cooperative members statewide.”
On Friday, Greitens posted on both of his Facebook accounts, praising ZAF Energy System’s decision to open a production facility in Joplin. The company reports that they will be looking to employ 100 people.
“We’re fighting for more jobs and higher pay in Missouri and companies like ZAF Energy Systems are stepping up. They’re creating 100 quality jobs at their new manufacturing plant in Joplin, Greitens said. “We’re getting results. Companies are recognizing that Missouri is open for business, and Missourians are ready to work. This is a great opportunity for families in Joplin.”
Michael Layer is a reporter for the Missouri Times and the Missouri Times Magazine. He joined the Missouri Times in August 2017 after graduating from Goucher College the previous May. To contact Michael, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @_MichaelLayer