JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Less than 24 hours after the release of an investigative report, members of Missouri’s upper legislative chamber are calling for Gov. Eric Greitens’ resignation and citing no confidence in his abilities to lead the state.
The major blow on Thursday came with a statement from Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, who called the contents of the report “disturbing and disgusting” while calling on the Governor to resign, marking the highest-ranking member of the state legislature to do so.
“The governor has lost the moral authority and the ability to lead the state going forward. The governor should resign immediately for the good of the state, but more importantly, for the good of his family,” Kehoe said. “Should the governor choose not to resign, I am persuaded that he has not only burned bridges, he has blown them up to where it will be impossible for him to effectively lead the state going forward.”
Responding to the Governor’s statements the day before, when he said that the committee report would be “full of lies”, Kehoe said that the investigation was not “a witch-hunt” as Greitens had called it, nor were the contents “tabloid trash.”
Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard stopped short of calling for Greitens’ resignation but said that his wife had read the 24-page report and was disgusted.
When asked by Sen. Scott Sifton, a Democrat from Affton, if he would support impeachment if Greitens would not resign, Kehoe responded that he believed everyone is “due their day in court” and that the committee needed to finish their work.
“I still think we need to have two sides of the story before you say yes to that,” Kehoe said.
Sen. Bob Onder echoed Kehoe’s sentiments in a statement issued later that afternoon.
— Bob Onder (@BobOnderMO) April 12, 2018
Sifton replied that he believes the report is worthy of impeachment and says that the budget bills are the only House bills he thinks are worth taking any action on as long as the House does not move forward with the impeachment process.
“Why should we move the House priority if they aren’t moving forward with impeachment?” he asked.
But Sifton wasn’t the only Democrat questioning why the House was waiting to move forward with impeachment. His female counterparts in the chamber spoke the most vehemently and passionately on the floor, sharing their views on the report and stating why Greitens was not fit for office.
“I have no faith in that man. He’s proven that he doesn’t have the moral fortitude to lead this state. I am not afraid of appearances. What I am afraid of is that we won’t proceed,” Sen. Minority Floor Leader Gina Walsh said, telling her colleagues that the report demonstrated what she referred to as a “predatory nature.”
Sen. Jill Schupp agreed, calling it a textbook case of an abuser.
“We are trusting him to make the right policy decisions for the people in Missouri? There is so much wrong with this picture,” Schupp stated, saying it was clear that the Governor had no moral compass.
Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal said that the details of the report were difficult to read as someone who had experienced being sexually harassed.
“No one else in this body can understand the darkness that comes along with being attacked,” she said. “I know what it is like.”
“We’re all at a point of dismay and disgust,” Sen. Kiki Curls said. “In the deepest part of my gut and my soul, I was saddened. The distraction that this has caused to our Capitol and state in general, there is no way we can continue to do the business of the state under this cloud. We are at the end of the rope.
“We are the Show-Me State… and what we are showing the world today is that you can be a governor and you can slap a woman around, you can be governor and have little or no integrity, you can have no morals while serving as governor, that you can victimize a lady and still serve in the top position in Missouri,” Sen. Jamilah Nasheed said. “His portrait in all of the state buildings are of his family. Every one of those pictures should come down. The way he treats his wife and children is appalling.”
Nasheed continued, saying that Greitens should not have the authority to sign any bills that might be sent to his desk for approval.
“I don’t think he should be signing any bills. He shouldn’t have the authority to sign anything,” she said. “I don’t think he should have the authority do anything right now other than to be impeached.”
Others looked to other routes and avenues. Sen. Rob Schaaf, who has been a critic of the governor, stated that if things continue on the current path, with the legislature looking at a special session, it will cost more state money.
“His refusal to resign is going to cost the state in a lot of ways, least of which money,” Schaaf said.
The senator from Buchanan put his thoughts toward a letter to President Donald Trump, stating that the Commander-in-Chief might make Greitens stand down. Sens. Gary Romine and Doug Libla joined Schaaf in signing the letter.
“President Trump, I’m speaking to you,” he said. “He [Greitens] is trained to listen to his Commander-in-Chief. If you give him the order, if you tell him to stand down, I believe that he will.
— Rob Schaaf (@robschaaf) April 12, 2018
After more than three hours of debate, and giving final passage to two bills with little relevant debate, the chamber adjourned until next Tuesday.
Benjamin Peters was a reporter for The Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine and also produced the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined The Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield.