Easily the largest news to come from the governor’s office this week is the fact that it has a new resident. Monday saw the swearing in of Gov. Eric Greitens, who bills himself as a conservative outsider intent on fixing the Capitol’s image of corruption and unethical conduct. The swearing-in ceremony for Greitens and the other executive officers took place Monday at noon before a crowd of hundreds of Missourians. The full text of
The swearing-in ceremony for Greitens and the other executive officers took place Monday at noon before a crowd of hundreds of Missourians. The full text of Greitens’ inaugural address can be read here.
Eagle-eyed reporter Jason Hancock from the Kansas City Star also noticed that Greitens’ largest individual campaign donor, Michael Goguen had a front row seat to the inauguration on stage. Goguen, a California-based venture capitalist, donated $1 million to Greitens, but sparked controversy when it was revealed Goguen was facing a breach of contract lawsuit from a woman who claimed he still owed her $30 million of $40 million for injuries she sustained from sexual abuse at his hands. Goguen countersued and claimed their relationship was consensual. Greitens always shrugged off his ties to Goguen, except to credit Goguen as a friend who had done a lot of work for veterans-related issues.
Greitens got to work quickly as governor, signing two executive orders on his first two days in office. The first came just minutes after he stepped down from the stage and served as a recommitment to his campaign promises. It will forbid lobbyists from giving gifts to Greitens’ staff and prevent Greitens’ staff from quitting and becoming lobbyists during his term in office.
The second executive order, announced on a Facebook Live stream, will freeze the creation of new regulations in the executive branch, while also ordering each state agency to review their current regulatory frameworks. Greitens had every department print off every rule and regulation governing it to surround him during the Live stream of the executive order signing.
Greitens introduced a new position to the governor’s office by naming international affairs expert and government consultant Drew Erdmann as the state’s first-ever chief operating officer on Wednesday.
Erdmann is tasked with making government departments more efficient.
“We want our COO to be waking up every single day thinking about nothing but how to make government work better for you,” Greitens told reporters Wednesday. “He’s going to work with us to make sure that every nickel of your tax money is spent well. They’re going to make sure government stays focused on your core priorities.”
Other staff noted to have joined the administration include Brad Green and Todd Scott.
The state hunkered down Thursday to expect the worst as Winter Storm Jupiter threatened to dump up to an inch of ice on some parts of the state. Greitens signed another executive order, this time putting the State Emergency Management Agency into action. It’s one of Greitens’ first tests as governor, and though the storm has not caused many problems as of Friday afternoon, it is expected to continue throughout the weekend.
Former Govs. Mel Carnahan and Jay Nixon both showed calm and action during major natural disasters that affected the state, and though Winter Storm Jupiter does not look to be as serious a threat, it’s worth seeing how Greitens handles the first major hurdle of his governorship.
Rumors circulated Thursday that should the storm become bad enough, it would delay Greitens’ first State of the State Address scheduled for Tuesday evening. If that does happen, it could exacerbate an already large complication with the budget. Usually, during a governor’s inaugural address, the governor will provide an outline of their budget priorities and will shortly send off their recommendations to the budget chairs in each chamber.
Greitens, however, has already announced he will not include budget specifics in his State of the State address, which puts the Legislature in a tough spot because they wait for his recommendations to see what and where to make cuts. An early House Budget Committee hearing Thursday showed that even from Nixon’s withholds in his closing day’s of office, the FY2017 budget will still likely suffer from a $39 million shortfall.
The in-depth report of that hearing can be read here.
Greitens started his day Friday bright and early with a 5:00 a.m. press conference pre-empting the storm, capping the day with another press conference at 5:15 p.m. He announced in the morning the full force of MoDOT was preparing the roads, while the Missouri National Guard was also activated and ready to disperce thousands of cases of water, if necessary.