Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has resigned after a year of being dogged by multiple scandals.
Greitens, a Republican, is currently facing a felony charge for invasion of privacy, stands accused of coercing a woman into sex, and, according to the state’s attorney general, may have committed a crime by using a charity donor list to solicit campaign funds.
For months after the first allegations came out, Greitens vowed not to step down. He finally gave in Tuesday afternoon in a defiant speech.
“This ordeal has been designed to cause an incredible amount of strain on my family,” he said. “I will let the fairness of this process to be judged by history.”
The first scandal involving Greitens broke earlier this year, when the governor was indicted on a felony charge of invasion of privacy. His criminal trial on that charge is ongoing. Then in April, Missouri state lawmakers released a report alleging that Greitens had coerced his hairdresser into nonconsensual sexual acts, took photos of her without her consent, and attempted to blackmail her.
A few weeks later, Missouri’s Republican attorney general, Josh Hawley, announced that his office had discovered evidence that Greitens may have committed a felony offense by using a donor list of his veterans charity, the Mission Continues, to ask for donations leading up to his 2016 campaign for governor. Hawley’s office didn’t file formal charges, but it was a clear attempt to get Greitens to step down.
Greitens has been defiant about the charges against him, saying that he’d had an extramarital affair with the woman who accused him of coercion and calling the special investigation by state lawmakers into his conduct a “political witch hunt.” (The committee investigating Greitens has a Republican majority.)
He even took the step of filing a temporary restraining order against Hawley, an attempt to stop the AG from investigating him, according to Ashley Zavala, a reporter for the local television station KRCG. The argument from Greitens and his lawyers is that because Hawley has already called for the governor’s resignation, he can’t investigate him impartially and therefore must recuse himself from the case. Using a charity list for political fundraising is a felony under Missouri law.
Throughout his speech announcing his resignation, Greitens seemed to paint himself as the victim. He insisted he had not broken any laws and referenced millions of dollars in mounting legal fees. In the end, though, he was forced from office. Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, will be sworn in and serve out Greitens’s term, which ends in January 2021.