Missouri governor quits as affair, dark money and felony charge hang over him

May 30, 2018 GMT

A political career that began with a bang as Eric Greitens promised to take on Missouri’s “culture” of corruption ended with a whimper Tuesday as he announced his resignation.

Greitens will step down Friday in the face of an impeachment effort, an adverse judicial ruling and criminal investigations.

“The last few months have been incredibly difficult for me, for my family, for my team, for my friends, and many, many people that I love,” he said, saying he was the victim of “legal harassment.”

“I have not broken any laws or committed any offense worthy of this treatment,” he asserted.

A year after Greitens took office in January 2017, he became engulfed in scandal when he admitted to a 2015 extramarital affair but denied allegations he threatened his lover with a compromising photograph.

Peripheral scandals swirled — his reliance on untraceable political donations, use of a self-destructing texting app and use of a charity donor list to raise campaign contributions all drawing negative attention.

Despite revelation after revelation this winter and spring, Greitens resisted leaving his post — until his surprise announcement on Tuesday.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, a Democrat who had led the now-scuttled felony invasion-of-privacy case against the governor, said her office had reached a “fair and just resolution” with Greitens’ attorneys. Her spokeswoman said the agreement was in regard to a second St. Louis charge, a felony data-tampering case involving Greitens’ alleged use of a charity donor list for political fundraising.

“I have been in contact with the Governor’s defense team over the past several days,” she said in a statement. “We have reached a fair and just resolution of the pending charges. We will provide more information tomorrow.”

A source close to Greitens said Gardner would drop the felony data-tampering charge.

By contrast, Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, who was named special prosecutor after the charge related to his extramarital affair was dropped this month, said her investigation continues.

“In the interest of pursuing justice to its fullest lengths, we will continue until our work on the case is completed,” Baker said in a statement. “Specifically regarding any deals we made with Governor Greitens’ attorneys, no deals were made by my office. Our review of this case, as I have stated before, will be pursued without fear or favor.”

Greitens’ surprise announcement came hours after a ruling by a Cole County judge that would force the governor’s campaign and a dark-money political group affiliated with Greitens to reveal fundraising information to a special House committee that was investigating the governor.