Legislature's Graphic Report On Gov. Greitens 'Beyond Disturbing'; Resignation Calls Stack Up
This story has been updated with additional information.
A Missouri House committee report on Gov. Eric Greitens contains graphic details about the affair between the governor and his former hair stylist, including an unwanted sexual encounter and a threat of blackmail.
The first-term Republican governor said ahead of the report being released that it’s little more than a “political witch hunt,” saying at a news conference that it would be full of “lies and falsehoods.”
The Special Investigative Committee On Oversight was convened in March after Greitens was charged with felony invasion of privacy by the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office. The charge alleges Greitens didn’t obtain permission before taking a nude photo of the woman with whom he was having an affair in 2015; the woman testifies about the incident in the report.
The committee’s report does not recommend legislators take actions against Greitens, though the committee will continue its work through the end of the session. Speaker of the House Todd Richardson, a Poplar Bluff Republican, said the committee "had no political agenda," and that it isn't "a witch hunt."
"The testimony outlined in the report is beyond disturbing," House Speaker Todd Richardson
"The testimony outlined in the report is beyond disturbing," he said at a news conference, adding that leadership intends to call a special session in order to weigh whether Greitens should be impeached.
But Democrats quickly called on Greitens to resign, as did Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley, Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill Sen., a Republican congresswoman and a Kansas City-area Republican state representative.
House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, said the report is graphic and disturbing when it comes to the accounts of how Greitens treated the woman. "This is behavior that is unbecoming to anyone, much less someone who is supposed to be the leader of our state,” she said.
The committee heard testimony from the woman involved in the affair, who has not been identified publicly and did not consent to the news of the affair being broadcast back in January after the State of the State address.
She told the committee that Greitens slapped and hit her, and that she did not consent to the encounter in which she said she heard the sound of a cellphone taking a picture of her mostly nude body. The report says the committee does not have any photo nor any evidence that such a photo was transmitted, which is a key part of the felony charge Greitens faces.
A friend of the woman's also testified that the woman said she was upset during one encounter but still performed a sex act on Greitens "so that she could leave."
Rep. Judy Morgan, a Kansas City Democrat, told KCUR that she was disturbed by "the interaction between the two of them, which appeared to be sexual abuse on his part." She said when it comes to impeachment proceedings, she wants to read the full report before taking any next steps.
Rep. Greg Razer, another Democrat from Kansas City, told KCUR that woman was "unanimously ... labeled ... as a credible witness."
"Her testimony is taken as fact," Democratic Rep. Greg Razer
GOP Rep. Kevin Corlew put out a statement after the House speaker's news conference to renew his call for Greitens to "immediately resign" and for his colleagues to "seriously consider impeachment under the Missouri State Constitution."
Other Republicans to whom KCUR reached out to did not immediately respond to request for comment. But U.S. Rep. Vicki Hartzler had strong language, saying the report "surpasses disturbing."
"It is disgusting. This is not behavior befit for a leader in Missouri or anywhere else for that matter," she said.
And Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, the Republican who would be line for the governor's office should Greitens be impeached, said in a statement that "it is time to unite and put aside our differences," adding that "Missourians must continue to stay focused on the task at hand — moving Missouri forward."
The woman's testimony in the report hints at how Greitens was aware in March 2015 of his soon-to-be public image, saying Greitens was communicating with her with a prepaid cellphone and that he searched her purse and belongings for recording devices when she came to his house.
Greitens is due to go to trial in St. Louis on the felony charge May 14. There is a partial gag order in that trial.
Hawley has subpoenaed Greitens over The Mission Continues, a nonprofit for veterans Greitens started before running for office. Greitens was fined by the Missouri Ethics Commission in 2017 for not reporting that he obtained an email list from the charity during his gubernatorial campaign. The special House committee also is looking into The Mission Continues, and said it will discuss the information in its next report.
Greitens’ office has hired a Washington, D.C., attorney who has represented other governors during impeachment proceedings.
Greitens said at Wednesday's news conference that the committee "decided to publish an incomplete document," adding that it'll be "filled with lies that may have come from a dream." He also said he'll "continue to serve as governor" in the face of "fake charges."
KCUR's Sam Zeff, C.J. Janovy, Maria Carter and Claire Verbeck contributed to this report.
Erica Hunzinger is the editor of Harvest Public Media and a contributor to KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @ehunzinger. Brian Ellison is host of KCUR's Statehouse Blend Missouri podcast and reports on Missouri politics and government. Follow him on Twitter @ptsbrian.