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Missouri GOP divided over Greitens’ future

When it comes to Gov. Eric Greitens’ legal troubles, the split among Missouri Republicans was obvious Monday during back-to-back news conferences.

Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Republican from Poplar Bluff, announced that he has set up a bipartisan committee to investigate the issues surrounding the governor’s indictment Thursday for allegedly taking a photo of a partially nude woman without her consent.

Right after the speaker’s brief event, two St. Louis area lawmakers held a rival news conference that urged the governor to resign.

The speaker-appointed committee will be led by state Rep. Jay Barnes, a Republican from Jefferson City who was among the early supporters of Greitens, who was elected in 2016.

Barnes said the panel will investigate in “a thorough and timely manner.”

State Rep. Jay Barnes, left, will chair a House committee set up by  House Speaker Todd Richardson, right, to investigate the allegations that led to the indictment of Gov. Eric Greitens.
Credit House Communications
State Rep. Jay Barnes, left, will chair a House committee set up by House Speaker Todd Richardson, right, to investigate the allegations that led to the indictment of Gov. Eric Greitens.

Greitens has acknowledged that he engaged in an affair with the woman in 2015, but has denied breaking any laws.

The House panel could be the first step in a process leading to possible impeachment. “We will make a determination based on where the facts lead us,’’ said Barnes, who is an attorney.

Aside from Barnes, the panel’s members are:

  •         Rep. Donald Phillips, R-Kimberling City – Vice-Chair
  •         Rep. Kevin Austin, R-Springfield
  •         Rep. Shawn Rhoads, R-West Plains
  •         Rep. Jeanie Lauer, R-Blue Springs
  •         Rep. Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis
  •         Rep. Tommie Pierson Jr., D-St. Louis

Mitten, a lawyer, said in an interview, "These are very serious accusations ... I hope that this committee conducts itself appropriately and professionally, and that there is cooperation from the witnesses called."

Neither Barnes nor Speaker Richardson would comment on any specific aspects of the case, or from whom they might seek testimony. They did say there’s no specific deadline for gathering information, but that the committee will issue a report with a recommendation on whether the House should move to impeach Greitens.

Dissidents accuse governor of lying

Meanwhile, state Reps. Shamed Dogan of Ballwin and Marsha Haefner of Oakville said it was time for swift action — and that Greitens has demonstrated that he is not worthy to remain as governor.

State Reps. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, and Marsha Haefner, R-Oakville, are leading a signature-gathering effort to urge the governor to resign.
Credit Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio
State Reps. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, and Marsha Haefner, R-Oakville, are leading a signature-gathering effort to urge the governor to resign.

The two are circulating a letter calling for the governor to step down. About a dozen House members have signed the letter so far, they said. The duo declined to identify the signers but said they may make the names public later.

The two said that Greitens’ legal troubles are hurting fellow Republicans and paralyzing state government.

Haefner, who had called for Greitens to resign weeks ago,  said she feared that the issue will drag on for months.

“Everywhere I go, people are telling me we hope this ends quickly, that it’s an embarrassment to the state and that we need to move forward,” she said. “It is time-consuming for all of us to have to answer all these questions and focus on this instead of other work.”

Dogan contended that Greitens had lied weeks ago when he had implied to lawmakers that there was no such photograph of the woman. Dogan said the governor’s legal team is now making clear with their actions that such a photo was taken.

Both said they were circulating the letter with “heavy hearts.”

House backs stiffer penalties for “revenge porn”Loading...

Regardless of their views on Greitens’ future, House members appear to be of one mind when it comes to the photo-taking that he’s accused of.

The House voted overwhelmingly, with only one dissent, to give final approval to a bill that imposes stiffer penalties for “nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images.”

The indictment of Greitens alleges that he electronically stored the woman’s semi-nude or nude photograph in such a way that it could be disseminated online. 

The House bill now goes to the Senate.

Greitens could face more troubles

St. Louis prosecutors say it is possible that Greitens may face more charges beyond invasion of privacy.

The information came during a meeting Monday of prosecutors and Greitens’ defense team to discuss a possible trial date.

Defense attorneys want the case to go in front of a jury as fast as possible. Prosecutors say they are unlikely to be ready by May, and are suggesting a date in late summer or early fall.

It will be up to St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison to make the final decision.

Greitens also doubled-down Monday on his accusations that St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, a Democrat, was playing politics because she oversaw the grand jury that issued the indictment.

The governor’s campaign operation sent out a statement accusing Gardner of being “in search of a crime.” The campaign also alleged that she was being influenced by wealthy Democratic donor George Soros, whose super Pac donated about $200,000 to Gardner’s earlier campaigns.

St. Louis Public Radio's Rachel Lippmann contributed information for this article.

Follow Jo and Marshall on Twitter: @jmannies; @MarshallGReport

Copyright 2020 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit .

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.
Marshall Griffin
St. Louis Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a native of Mississippi and proud alumnus of Ole Miss (welcome to the SEC, Mizzou!). He has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off an old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Liberty Belle, and their cat, Honey.
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