JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.–Missouri Governor Eric Greitens was indicted by a grand jury on one felony count of invasion of privacy Thursday.
According to court documents, Greitens knowingly took a picture of a woman who was either partially or fully nude without the woman’s consent.
The charge goes on to say the picture was taken in a place where a person would reasonably expect privacy and was then transferred to a computer.
The charge is connected to allegations of a 2015 extramarital affair and blackmail made against the governor.
House speaker Todd Richardson, his soon-to-be replacement Elijah Haahr, and majority floor leader Rob Vescovo offered the following statement tonight:
“We will carefully examine the facts contained in the indictment and answer the question as to whether or not the governor can lead our state while a felony case moves forward. The people of Missouri deserve no less. We will begin the process of tasking a group of legislators to investigate these serious charges.”
Missouri Democrats were less measured:
“Everything about Eric Greitens has been a stain on Missouri. Through it all, the Republican establishment has stood by him. Change can’t come soon enough.”
I think it’s important to put indictments in perspective. The saying “you could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich” exists for a reason, the process involves just the prosecutor making a case without the defense presenting its side of the story.
So, the Governor has reason to say that Thursday’s events don’t point to his actual guilt.
But, politically, this is a disaster.
The Governor is charged with a class d felony. Missouri law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony from holding office.
The optics of the man who ran against what he called “career politicians” being indicted just over a year since taking office are awful.
The bottom line is the Governor’s political future hangs on House Republicans.
If Greitens can convince the Speaker and others to not push the impeachment button just yet, he might survive this, but the last year has seen the Governor burn a lot of bridges within his own party.
So what if he gets found guilty by indictment?
He is removed from office if he isn’t impeached and removed by the legislature first.
What if he is found not guilty?
He still gets to hold public office, but, as things look now, it’s likely he would have been impeached or removed by the legislature prior to a not guilty verdict.
The indictment Thursday is a legal proceeding, but the Missouri legislature may take it upon themselves to begin an impeachment process. Missouri legislature doesn’t have to wait for a verdict to be weighed.
How do Impeachment Proceedings in Missouri work?
Articles of Impeachment must be drawn up by a House committee, which is already in the process of being formed (according to a release from the House Majority leader). A majority of the House must approve the articles.
If impeached, the case goes to a panel of eminent jurists selected by the Missouri Senate. Five-sevenths of the jurists would have to vote to convict Greitens.
Who would take over as Missouri Governor?
Lt. Governor Mike Parson, of Bolivar, Mo., would assume the role of Missouri Governor.
There have been 10 impeachment cases in Missouri since 1825.