State lawmakers representing Franklin County are stopping short of calling for Gov. Eric Greitens’ resignation, but do question his ability to lead.
The findings of the House Special Committee on Oversight interviewed four witnesses in the case involving Greitens and produced a graphic summary of his alleged actions which led to a felony invasion of privacy charge.
The governor denies the charges, saying they’re lies and called the committee’s investigation a witch hunt despite the fact it was performed by five members of his own party.
Even without a resignation, whispers of impeachment have grown louder and louder.
House leadership has tentatively announced a special session for those purposes in early summer after the regular legislative session ends in May.
Since the allegations were first levied against Greitens in February, State Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, has taken a wait and see approach.
“The things he did are distasteful, but from what I’ve seen so far, the governor hasn’t done anything illegal,” Schatz said. “It’s not a witch hunt. I trust Speaker (Todd) Richardson and the guys working on this issue. I know the committee is still working and I want to see as much info as I can. I’ve always tried to be careful not to get out in front of something before I have all of the facts.”
Schatz went as far to say even with the pressure increasing, he doesn’t think Greitens will resign.
“For someone who has a military background, it’s not in their DNA to give up,” Schatz said. “I think he will fight through this battle.”
Schatz added the Greitens scandal has been a distraction, but the Senate is attempting to move forward with the task before them, most notably the state’s budget sent over from the House.
He admits the fervor with which some of his colleagues are rebuking the governor, may lead to retaliation when it comes time for legislation to be signed by Greitens.
“It could be a challenging situation,” Schatz said. “He (Greitens) has called out legislators and I don’t think that is productive.”
On the House side, where any articles of impeachment would be generated, representatives from Franklin County are also sticking to their original sentiments and say the information in the report was nothing they didn’t know already.
State Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, said he echoes his previous statement.
“The governor needs to seriously consider if he has the ability to lead our state going forward,” Alferman said.
He calls the testimony in the report disturbing and he stands by House leadership.
“Allegations of abuse, coercion and sexual assault are to be taken seriously,” Alferman said. “The investigation was conducted in a fair and appropriate manner.”
Freshman State Rep. Nathan Tate, R-St. Clair, agrees he wants more facts and reminded the public the committee is still investigating Greitens on other matters.
When asked if there was a vote for impeachment today, he said he would have to vote no.
“Did he break the law?” Tate questioned. “I’m not an attorney or police officer, but I don’t believe he has.”
Tate added he will maintain his wait and see approach and it will be business as usual.
“This job is bigger than any one person here,” Tate said. “It may be a long time before all the evidence comes out. He’s still the governor and you have to at least respect the office. Was this a witch hunt? Who knows?”