How We Got Here: An anthology of controversies and conflict between the Governor and General Assembly

  

In light of the scandal gripping state government, a lot has been made of the relationship between the Governor and the General Assembly. We decided to pull together some of the relevant dates regarding recent scandals in state politics and Eric Greitens’ rocket-like climb to the highest office in the state.

 

Governor Eric Greitens

February 21, 2015

Eric Greitens attends the Missouri Republican Party Lincoln Days event in Kansas City and states his intentions to run for Governor.

March 21, 2015

Eric Greitens brings a copy of his latest book to a St. Louis area hair stylist and offers her work doing his hair styling and makeup on an upcoming book tour. He later invites her to his family home in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis City and begins an affair.

March 24, 2015

The Mission Continues, a charity that Greitens oversees, gives a list of donors the charity has compiled to a campaign staffer of Greitens’ gubernatorial campaign to solicit their support for his campaign. During the first two months of the campaign, he raises 85 percent of his funds from donors of The Mission Continues.

April 13, 2015

Eric Greitens files documentation with the Missouri Ethics Commission, forming his transparent fundraising committee.

July 13, 2015

Greitens releases a video where he claims the problem with Missouri government is that it has been “run by a failed Governor and a bunch of career politicians from both parties who will say or do anything to get elected.”

August 25, 2015

Greitens emails the woman he later confesses to having an affair with, saying “and this is the link that I mentioned with the cool TED talks: The Shawn Anchor talk is particularly good. I hope that you enjoy them! Cheers, Eric”

September 26, 2015

Eric Greitens officially announces his candidacy for governor in St. Louis, saying that he will attack corrupt career politicians and is willing to “in sight of Thomas Jefferson himself, throw you down the steps of the capitol.”

October 20, 2015

The woman with whom Greitens confessed to having an affair with emails the Governor, saying:

“Eric, I’m asking you to please consider all who are involved and the circumstances around us. I need you to not book at the salon anymore. This isn’t fair to me, nor anyone close to us. Please respect me and my wishes. I need to move forward in my life as I know you are doing as well. Take care.”

November 23, 2015

The St. Louis Post Dispatch releases the tape of a phone conversation between Eric Greitens and his gubernatorial opponent, John Brunner, where Greitens is very angry over third party charitable organizations attacking him. During the exchange, he repeatedly refers to Brunner as “a weasel” and comments “I can’t wait to see you in person, John. I want to look in your eyes.”

The Greitens campaign responded to the release of the tape, with Austin Chambers stating:  “This recording shows that Eric Greitens is disgusted by sleazy politics, while John Brunner is a pro at it. Brunner recorded a private conversation without Eric’s knowledge and then leaked it to the media. Eric repeatedly challenged Brunner to accept responsibility for the recent negative attacks on Eric’s integrity which, like a typical politician, Brunner ducked and dodged.”

December 2015

After the affair Greitens took part in was brought to light, the couple involved are legally divorced.

December 31, 2015

California investor Michael Goguen makes his second $500,000 contribution to the Greitens campaign, totaling $1,000,000 up to that point in transparent contributions.

February 25, 2016

On the anniversary of the death of Tom Schweich, Greitens publishes a Facebook post, writing:

“Still today, anonymous people and their political allies launch the most vile attacks against political opponents, and justify it by flippantly saying, ‘well, it’s just politics.’

“There is, obviously, something wrong with politics, and there is something particularly, deeply, disturbingly, wrong here in Missouri.

“I’ve never been in politics before, but even in the brief time that I’ve been running for Governor, I’ve been exposed to some of the worst people I’ve ever known. Liars, cowards, sociopaths. They are often deeply broken and disturbed people, who—like criminals who prey on the innocent—take their pleasure and make their living by victimizing honest people. They are drawn to politics as vultures flock to rotting meat—and they feed off the carcasses of vice. Every lie makes them money. Every fake website, fake Facebook account that spouts falsehoods makes them cash. They pay kids to follow you (and your spouse) around with a camera, and they often pay those same kids to shout questions at you—and, in this, they profit. They engage in the lowest of tactics, the most slanderous lies—and all the while their bank balances rise.”

May 16, 2016

Supporters of Eric Greitens create the federal political action committee, LG PAC. (LG is the common acronym for Lieutenant Governor.)

June 6, 2016

LG PAC begins airing ads attacking John Brunner, and later attacks Catherine Hanaway. St. Louis Public Radio reports that all four campaigns, including Greitens, expressed “shock” at the development.

June 7, 2016

At a FOX 2 debate, Greitens asks Republicans if, “they want a candidate who tells it like its, or one who makes excuses for the corruption in Jefferson City.”

June 17, 2016

KMBC in Kansas City airs footage of the only federally listed agent of LG PAC speaking with the Governor at a recent campaign event.

June 20, 2016

Greitens receives the largest contribution in the history of Missouri politics, taking in $1,975,000 from a dark money group whose donors are anonymous.

July 26, 2016

Greitens mega-donor Michael Goguen files a lawsuit against John Brunner for referring to the large donor as keeping a “sex slave,” and hires James Bennett of the law firm Dowd-Bennett in Clayton.

August 2, 2016

Eric Greitens wins the Republican nomination for Governor of Missouri, garnering 34 percent of the vote.

September 2016

A Democratic operative approaches the husband of the woman Greitens later confessed to having an affair with to come forward and publicly discuss the affair. The husband refuses.

October 10, 2016

Greitens tells the Associated Press: “No, we were not working off of a Mission Continues donor list.”

October 11, 2016

The Greitens campaign airs a television commercial quoting the candidate, telling Missourians: “Our leaders have to be held to a higher standard to not only do what is legal but what is honorable as well.”

November 8, 2016

Eric Greitens is elected Governor of Missouri, garnering 51 percent of the vote.

January 9, 2017

Eric Greitens is sworn in as the 56th Governor of the State of Missouri. In the speech, he comments: “We will go to work with humble hearts, and we will extend our hand in friendship to all those who will take it, but… To those who would commit violence against a fellow citizen…

“I assure them this: they will feel the might, strength, and resolution of the firm fist of justice.”

January 10, 2017

Greitens states he will not disclose the donors who paid for his lavish inaugural ball.

January 25, 2017

The lawsuit between California investor and Greitens megadonor Michael Goguen and former Greitens opponent John Brunner is settled.

January 30, 2017

The Missouri Times reports that after an evening Twitter storm, Greitens goes to the President of the Senate’s office and threatens Senators Bill Eigel, Denny Hoskins and Paul Weiland over their recusal on a Senate motion.

“I know you’re not smart enough to come up with this on your own, so who put you up to this?” Greitens allegedly states during the confrontation with Senator Weiland. “I can see by your pupils in your beady little eyes that you’re afraid of me, and your hands shaking that you’re not invested in this.”

“What are you going to do, waterboard me?” Wieland replies.

February 5, 2017

Supporters of Eric Greitens form the dark money group A New Missouri to accept contributions without releasing the identity of those making the contributions.

February 6, 2017

Governor Greitens signs a law passed making Missouri a “right-to-work” state.

April 21, 2017

A New Missouri begins running ads attacking and making public the private cell phone number of Senator Rob Schaaf, accusing him of “siding with liberals.”

April 29, 2017

Greitens is fined $1,000 by the Missouri Ethics Commission for violating Missouri campaign finance law, blaming the ethics violation on Daniel Laub, his former campaign manager. The Greitens campaign refers to it as “an accounting error.”

May 4, 2017

A report by the Springfield News-Leader reveals that A New Missouri had prepared attack ads against Senators Bob Dixon, Jason Holsman, Gary Romine, Ryan Silvey, and Doug Libla for not supporting law enforcement.

May 4, 2017

Senator Doug Libla takes to the Senate floor to refute the Governor’s attacks that he is not a supporter of law enforcement, citing his over-40-year commitment to helping law enforcement and their families, as well as his role as a charter member of the Missouri Association of State Troopers Emergency Relief Society (MASTERS), which exists to help the families of officers killed in the line of duty.

May 15, 2017

In his post-session press conference, Governor Greitens refers to the legislature as “third graders” commenting, “What’s the grade I would give the legislature? Frankly, sometimes it looked like third grade. Sometimes you had career politicians who instead of actually fighting for the people of Missouri and fighting for jobs, they were singing kumbaya.

“Instead of actually fighting for our law enforcement officers and having their back, they were out there reading Shakespeare. Those are exactly the kind of games people are sick of.”

May 18, 2017

Greitens takes to Facebook to announce he will call the legislature back into special session, stating: “Some career politicians failed to do their jobs and then went home. That’s wrong. We’re canceling their summer vacations and calling a special session to get this done.”

May 22, 2017

A New Missouri launches robot calls against Senators Gary Romine and Doug Libla, the two legislators standing in opposition of the language used in the special session’s legislation.

June 12, 2017

Senators Jason Holsman, Bob Dixon, Scott Sifton, Ryan Silvey, Rob Schaaf, and Doug Libla call for the Senate to form an investigative committee to look into the various issues of controversy surrounding the Governor.

Greitens’ office says the calls for an investigation are, “temper tantrums from career politicians.”

“They’re angry that the governor is shaking up Jefferson City and won’t accept their excuses for failure any longer,” press secretary Parker Briden said.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe said that the legislation calling for the creation of an investigatory committee, “won’t move forward immediately, but could be taken up when lawmakers return for the 2018 session in January.”

June 15, 2017

Greitens signs the steel mill legislation, proclaiming on his Facebook page that “hundreds of jobs are on the way to the bootheel.”

July 19, 2017

A Greitens-aligned group, the Missouri Alliance for Freedom, sues Senator Schaaf, alleging that Schaaf was concealing state emails in his personal account and that any email sent to a Senator’s personal account conducting government business should make that account eligible to be accessed by the public under the sunshine law.

During the previous year, the Missouri Alliance for Freedom had awarded Senator Schaaf as a “defender of liberty.”

December 7, 2017

The Kansas City Star reports that Governor Greitens and his staff have been using the app Confide to hide their communications and delete all records of those communications.

December 8, 2017

Senator Scott Sifton calls on the Attorney General to launch an investigation into the Governor and his staff’s use of the Confide app to hide their communications.

December 20, 2017

Attorney General Josh Hawley announces that he will launch an investigation into the Governor and his staff in regards to using the Confide app to skirt the sunshine law and conceal and destroy government communications.

January 10, 2018

The Governor’s General Counsel Lucinda Luetkemeyer contacts Al Watkins, the attorney of the ex-husband of the woman who the governor had an affair with, on the afternoon before the story broke to discuss his client’s motivations and if it is possible for him not to come forward.

A Cole County judge dismisses a lawsuit filed by a nonprofit association, the Missouri Alliance for Freedom, against Senator Rob Schaaf and the state Senate hours before a sex scandal broke.

Governor Greitens gives his second State of the State address. In a remarkably short address, the Governor discusses some tax issues, and focuses on challenging the legislature to match his efforts on ethics reform.

Approximately one hour after the completion of his State of the State address the Governor releases a statement confessing to and apologizing for an extramarital affair.

Leading the 10 p.m. news, KMOV in St. Louis reports on the affair and then cites the woman with whom the Governor had admitted to having an affair with earlier in the evening. The report includes the woman’s ex-husband confirming the affair and plays a tape where the woman describes going to the Greitens’ family home in the Central West End area in St. Louis, being bound, and having nude pictures taken of her and threatened with blackmail if she ever spoke of the affair.

The Governor releases a joint statement along with the First Lady:
“A few years ago, before Eric was elected governor, there was a time when he was unfaithful in our marriage. This was a deeply personal mistake. Eric took responsibility, and we dealt with this together honestly and privately. While we never would have wished for this pain in our marriage, or the pain that this has caused others, with God’s mercy Sheena has forgiven and we have emerged stronger. We understand that there will be some people who cannot forgive – but for those who can find it in your heart, Eric asks for your forgiveness, and we are grateful for your love, your compassion, and your prayers.”

January 11, 2018

Senator Doug Libla announces on the floor of the state Senate that he will be circulating a letter for his colleagues to sign asking the Attorney General to investigate the allegations of blackmail brought to light on the tape of the woman the Governor had been carrying on an affair with.

The first public event, a factory tour at Briggs and Stratton in Poplar Bluff, is canceled.

The Attorney General’s office releases a statement that the Governor and his office have not been fully cooperating with the investigation into the use of the Confide app to hide and destroy state communications. “The investigation into Confide is ongoing and we hope that we will soon get cooperation from the Governor’s office,” the statement said.

Greitens and the First Lady arrange a call for campaign donors to update them on the scandal and inform them that Austin Chambers, the Governor’s former campaign manager, has returned to navigate the crisis and hang onto the Governor’s office.

Greitens retains a criminal defense lawyer, James Bennett, with the St. Louis law firm Dowd Bennett, and releases the following statement:

“We have been asked repeatedly by reputable news outlets why we believe this nearly three-year-old news story is coming out now. The latest reporting has finally disclosed that the reporting was being driven by a ‘source’ who is the former Democratic state party chairman and who apparently has not spoken to the person in question. This goes a long way to explaining what is going on – this is a political hit piece.

“This is and remains an almost three-year-old private matter with no matter of public interest at stake. Eric and Sheena have worked through those issues long ago and I think that Sheena put it best: ‘We have a loving marriage and an awesome family; anything beyond that is between us and God. I want the media and those who wish to peddle gossip to stay away from me and my children.’ Now we know who has been peddling that gossip.”

Senate Legislative Leadership, Senators Ron Richard, Mike Kehoe and Bob Onder, issue a joint statement over the Greitens sex scandal:

“Like many Missourians, we find these serious allegations shocking and concerning. As this situation is evolving, we expect the governor to be honest and forthright.”

House Legislative Leadership, Speaker Todd Richardson, Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr, and House Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo, issue a joint statement:

“While the details of the story continue to emerge, the allegations made against the governor last night are deeply concerning. The governor must be forthright and accountable for his actions.”

January 12, 2018

Talking Points Memo publishes a report where former Democratic Party Chairman Roy Temple recounts the story detailing an alleged assault Greitens was to have committed against a woman he was having an affair with.

January 12, 2018

Greitens’ criminal defense lawyer, James Bennett with the St. Louis law firm Dowd Bennett, releases another statement:

“The Governor has now seen the TV report that ran tonight. The station declined to provide the tape or transcript in advance of running their story, which contained multiple false allegations. The claim that this nearly three-year-old story has generated or should generate law enforcement interest is completely false. There was no ‘blackmail,’ and that claim is false. This personal matter has been addressed by the Governor and Mrs. Greitens privately years ago when it happened. The outrageous claims of improper conduct regarding these almost three-year-ago events are a lie.”

January 12, 2018

The rest of the Governor’s public events for the following week were cancelled.

A law firm that represents the woman releases a statement:
“We are a law firm that represents the unnamed woman in the recent story involving Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens. We are reaching out to you today to ask the media and the public to respect our client’s request for privacy. This story has taken an emotional toll on our client and she is extremely distraught that the information has been made public. It is very disappointing that her ex-husband betrayed her confidence by secretly, and without her knowledge, recording a private and deeply personal conversation and then subsequently released the recording to the media without her consent.

“Prior to releasing the story, a number of reporters made contact with our client asking her to comment on the information provided by her ex-husband. In response, she has consistently and continuously asked the reporters to not publish the story. Any comments that were made ‘on the record’ or ‘off the record’ have consistently been requests for privacy. Our client is a single mother working hard to raise a family. She is saddened that during this time of national introspection on the treatment of women in our society, allegations about her private life have been published without her permission.

“At this time, our client would like to thank each reporter and media outlet who honored her request for privacy prior to the story’s release. She wants to remain a private citizen and does not want to be part of this story. We are asking the media and the public to continue respecting her privacy.”

January 12, 2018

The law firm representing the woman’s ex-husband also released a statement: “Albert S. Watkins and the law firm of Kodner Watkins, LC represents the former husband of the woman with whom Governor Greitens has admitted having a protracted affair in 2015. A release was issued earlier today by the St. Charles law firm who represents our client’s former wife. While acknowledging the irony of the statement issued on behalf of our client’s former wife, our client has no intention of getting into a war of words with the mother of his children about betrayal, especially in light of the underlying circumstances involved.

“Albert S. Watkins and the law firm of Kodner Watkins, LC represents the former husband of the woman with whom Governor Greitens has admitted having a protracted affair in 2015. A release was issued earlier today by the St. Charles law firm who represents our client’s former wife. While acknowledging the irony of the statement issued on behalf of our client’s former wife, our client has no intention of getting into a war of words with the mother of his children about betrayal, especially in light of the underlying circumstances involved.

“Our client remains committed to doing that which is necessary to protect the interests of his family in general and his minor children in particular. Our client simply seeks to finally get this epic real-life drug store novel in his rear view mirror.

“Our client has tried valiantly at great personal, emotional and fiscal expense to keep the actions of others from compromising the integrity of the image of his former spouse in the eyes of their children. It became clear that this was not a story that was going to go away. It became clear that our client was without the ability to protect his minor children. It was clear that damage was imminent.

“In this era of national heightened awareness and introspection on the treatment of victimized persons in our society, my client seeks to heighten the awareness of the reality that for every woman who has been exploited, victimized, and used by a man in a position of power and authority, there are scores of others, including spouses, significant others, friends, and minor children who become nothing short of forgotten collateral damage, carnage at the side of the interstate.

“Our client respectfully suggests the national introspection referred to in his former spouse’s statement be broadened to encompass awareness of the innocents who suffer as mightily as the direct victim. On a more specific level, our client has no interest in Governor Greitens, his political aspirations, or his future. Our client seeks nothing more than the exposure of the truth so as to permit this tragedy to allow all who have been used and victimized to commence the healing process.”

January 12, 2018

Greitens begins paying to promote his and his criminal defense lawyer’s statements on his Facebook account.

January 12, 2018

St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced that her office will begin a criminal investigation into the allegations of blackmail against the Governor.

January 12, 2018

Greitens and the First Lady begin calling legislators and asking for their forgiveness and asking them to allow him to hang onto his office, blaming the scandal on the “liberal media.”

 

House Speaker John Diehl

November 4, 2014

John Diehl is re-elected to the Missouri House of Representatives, garnering 63% of the vote.

January 7, 2014

John Diehl is elected Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives.

March 2015

House Speaker John Diehl exchanges inappropriate text messages with a House intern.

May 13, 2015

The Kansas City Star runs an article accusing House Speaker John Diehl of sending inappropriate text messages to a House intern. In the article, he claimed he would not be resigning.

“I take full responsibility for my actions and am truly sorry to those I let down,” Diehl’s statement said. “I apologize for the poor judgment I displayed that put me and those closest to me in this situation. I also regret that the woman has been dragged into this situation. The buck stops here. I ask for forgiveness. I will begin immediately working to restore the trust of those closest to me, and getting back to the important work that is required in the final days of

“I apologize for the poor judgment I displayed that put me and those closest to me in this situation. I also regret that the woman has been dragged into this situation. The buck stops here. I ask for forgiveness. I will begin immediately working to restore the trust of those closest to me, and getting back to the important work that is required in the final days of session.”

May 13, 2015

In an emotionally charged evening caucus meeting, a group of legislators, led by Rep. Jay Barnes, demands House Speaker John Diehl resign.

May 14, 2015

John Diehl resigns as Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives.

“I have acknowledged making a serious error in judgment by sending the text messages. It was wrong and I am truly sorry,” Diehl said in a written statement Thursday afternoon.

“Too often, we hear leaders say they’re sorry but are unwilling to accept the consequences… I am willing to face the consequences.”

Rep. Mike Moon was quoted in the Kansas City Star:

“It’s time for him to focus on his family. Stepping down is the right decision.”

Woody Cozad, a lobbyist and former Missouri GOP chairman, said resignation was “obviously the right decision.”

“It avoids dragging out things, makes a nice clean cut and we can move forward,” he said.

“I’m sure personally it’s the right thing for him and his family.”

Governor Jay Nixon issued a statement, saying: “The conduct by the speaker towards a college intern as outlined by The Kansas City Star today is clearly inappropriate and troubling. Elected officials should be held to the highest standards of conduct by their colleagues and the citizens of this state, and this trust must be upheld.”

“Speaker Diehl was an effective leader with significant accomplishments for our state,” U.S. Senator Roy Blunt said. “He made a mistake, and has apologized. He made the right decision today. I wish John the best as he and his family work through this.”

“This epitomizes the culture in Jeff City,” former State Senator John Lamping said. “This is what happens… This is a high-profile, apparently well-documented circumstance, but it is not an isolated incident. It is standard procedure. It’s remarkable.”

Rep. Kevin Engler, however, said he thought Diehl “did the right thing” by resigning.

State Senator Paul LeVota

November 6, 2012

Paul LeVota is elected without opposition to a seat in the Missouri State Senate

July 22, 2015

The Kansas City Star publishes a report in which a former staffer to Senator Paul LeVota alleges inappropriate conduct towards her when she worked in his office.

July 22, 2015

The Missouri State Senate begins an investigation into allegations of inappropriate conduct by Senator Levota, who reiterates that he will not be resigning.

July 23, 2015

Senator Claire McCaskill comments: “Senator LeVota needs to seriously consider whether he can continue to serve.”

Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Roy Temple says it was the right move for LeVota and his constituents.

“The cloud that had arisen just made it impossible for him to be effective,” the party leader said.

“Even as facts continue to emerge, the allegations against Sen. LeVota to date are deeply troubling and raise serious questions about his ability to continue to serve his constituents,” Gov. Jay Nixon said in a statement. “Sexual harassment must not be tolerated.”

July 24, 2015

Senator Paul LeVota resigns.

“My conduct has been called into question relating to the intern program in the Missouri Senate and even though there has been no proof of any wrongdoing, the media attention is a distraction to doing the people’s work,” he said.

Representative Don Gosen

November 4, 2014

Don Gosen is re-elected to a seat in the Missouri House of Representatives, garnering 75 percent of the vote.

February 15, 2016

A source confirmed to The Missouri Times that she had an affair with Rep. Don Gosen. The woman’s name was withheld, but it was confirmed that she was not a state employee nor did she work in the private sector for him. When asked for comment, he states that he will not resign.

February 17, 2016

Rep. Don Gosen resigns his seat in the Missouri House of Representatives.

“I didn’t want an issue to be ‘Don Gosen,’ when real issues such as Ferguson and the University of Missouri need to be addressed. There has been several rumors floating around the Capitol,” Gosen said. “Some of them are true, some of them not. It’s personal things that need to be handled between myself and my family. And that’s where we’re addressing these issues now. I didn’t want to add to any issues up here in the House with some of the ethics reform. I didn’t want anything happening personal to play any role in any of that.”

February 21, 2016

Rep. Don Gosen goes on This Week in Missouri Politics and admits his affair, apologizing to his family, colleagues, and constituents.

“At the beginning of this year, I said the actions of this body would not be defined by a few. I was serious then, and I am serious now,” House Speaker Todd Richardson said. “I believe as I said on the first day of session that ‘as individuals we must be at our best and as an institution we must be better.’ We owe nothing less to our state and to the people we represent.”

Scott Faughn is the publisher of The Missouri Times, owner of the Clayton Times in Clayton, Mo; SEMO Times in Poplar Bluff, Mo.; and host of the only statewide political television show, This Week in Missouri Politics.