Ozarks Tonight: Governor Greitens and Picture Politics

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On Ozarks Tonight, picture politics and the Missouri governor.

Well, the governor of the state of Missouri is making headlines all across the country and that includes the Springfield News-Leader. Our own Will Schmitt who is up there talking with us tonight from Jefferson City joins us and he had a great front page spread this morning in the paper about the governor’s indictment.

“Brian thanks for having me,” Schmitt said. “Always a pleasure.”

So, Will, we’ve obviously been reporting on the basics of the story since last night when this news broke. What is the big update you can give us from Jefferson City this evening?

“Well, we’re getting a little bit of a clear picture of what could happen leading up to a possible impeachment situation,” Schmitt said. “Now, that is a distant possibility, if at all, but it’s something that’s on a table. When you’ve had more makers, a few granted, but have started to call for that to happen.”

“So, this hasn’t happened in over twenty years, by my understanding, so the current lawmakers are kind of scrambling a little bit to figure out just what is the right procedure. And what it looks like is going to happen is that there were a committee of House lawmakers-remember, the Constitution gives the power of impeachment to the House-they’re going to look into this, and report back to the body. The House would vote on any articles of impeachment. That would then go to the Senate, where a 5/7th majority of seven eminent jurists, as the Constitution calls it, would be the ones voting on that.”

“Then again, this is all a little premature because this could take months to get any kind of resolution and it may not even make it to vote in the House.”

So let me ask you this Will, what does this do in terms of the governor and his ability to actually govern? I’m assuming today was spent spending a lot of time with his legal team getting ready for his next court appearance on March 16. Do you have any sense from your reporting and from the conversations you’ve had up there in the capitol the governor is going to be kind of an absentee landlord over the next several weeks as he gets ready for this March 16 appearance and is that weighing in on how Republicans are looking at the impeachment decision?

“It may,” Schmitt said. “It’s fair to say that it can be a little more challenging to focus on the nuances of the budget and on legislation when you’re thinking about a St. Louis court hearing in mid-March. But, we’re also at the point where House lawmakers are going to take control of the budget process anyway. They’re marking the budget they’re going to deliver their first revisions really the first real draft of their budget and then send that over to the Senate in the near weeks. So they’ve got this well under control. The governor has given them his budget and it’s out of his control; it’s not up to him.”

“As to how much this is going to be a distraction, I mean, he’s got lawmakers in his own party calling for his resignation, I mean I think it’s clear it’s going to be weighing in on Missouri’s government in some capacity.”

Just a quick change of subject, Rep. Elijah Haahr, who is the speaker in waiting if you will, has come up with is only the tax cut plan that rivals the governor’s. Do you read into anything new in terms of some kind of power struggle behind the scenes or is this just what happens when you have a separation of powers in government and you’ve got two different ideas, but the people in the same party pushing the same agenda?

“I think you hit the nail on the head with that last bit, Brian,” Schmitt said. “I think if you look at Rep. Haahr’s plan, it’s not identical to the governor’s, but it does have some of the same ideas and having talked to him I know that that’s intentional in part. There’s supposed to be some compromise, but obviously, the House, the Senate and Governor’s office are not going to get everything they want in this, so there’s going to be some compromise. And what the House plan does is kind of try to find those middle grounds between you know how much is too much of an income tax cut? How much is not enough? How much of a deduction do we want to do? Do we want to do tax credit reform? All that good stuff.”

“I think Rep. Haahr, what he’s trying to do is be that the balance between the Senate and the governor’s office. And the end of the day, you’ve got to remember we have Republicans running the show in the House, the Senate, and the governor’s office. They’re all mostly on the same age. It’s just a matter of finding, you know, finding a space between the lines really.”

Will Schmitt, these stories will certainly continue. Looking forward to seeing you again next week. Thanks again for the update and keeping everything going in terms of us being informed about Jefferson City goings on.

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