Gov. Greitens resignation part of deal to drop charge

Greitens' resignation official Friday
Published: May. 29, 2018 at 8:04 PM CDT|Updated: May. 31, 2018 at 1:46 PM CDT
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MISSOURI (KFVS/AP) - A spokeswoman for St. Louis' top prosecutor says the office agreed to drop a computer tampering charge against Gov. Eric Greitens after his attorneys suggested he would resign if the case was dismissed.

Susan Ryan, a spokeswoman for Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, told The Associated Press that defense attorneys approached the office and Ryan agreed to their proposal.

Defense attorney Jim Martin acknowledged reaching out to Gardner to resolve the issue but added, "I don't think that's exactly the full play." He didn't elaborate.

Martin said he expects a felony invasion of privacy charge against Greitens will be resolved soon as well. A special prosecutor is weighing whether to refile that charge.

According to Missouri Representative Holly Rehder,  the House Committee is still investigating the possible impeachment of Governor Greitens and will specifically look into the source of the 120k paid to attorney Al Watkins (attorney for ex of Greitens' mistress) among other issues.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney has placed a price tag on the cost of prosecuting two felony cases against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens: $65,000 so far.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Gardner offered the estimate Thursday during an aldermanic committee meeting. She was responding to a question from Alderman Joseph Vaccaro, who asked how much her office had "wasted" on the cases.

Gardner later told reporters she believed her office used its resources efficiently and effectively. She says all bills haven't been tallied but the final total won't reach $100,000.

Gardner on Wednesday announced her office was dismissing a computer data tampering charge against the Republican governor that alleged he used a charity donor list for political purposes.

Greitens also was indicted in February on invasion of privacy stemming from a 2015 extramarital affair. Gardner's office dropped the case during jury selection. A special prosecutor is deciding whether to refile it.

On Wednesday, May 30 Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner held a press conference on at 10:30 a.m. to announce the resolution of the felony tampering with a computer case against Eric Greitens.

Gardner said in the conference she plans to dismiss the felony tampering charge against Greitens.

Gov. Greitens announced his resignation at 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday, May 29.

While he didn't say why he was resigning, Greitens said he came to office to fight for the people of Missouri.

"I love Missouri and I love our people," he said. "That love remains."

He said he was thankful for everyone who worked beside him and with him. He said he was proud of them and their work together.

"The last few months have been incredibly difficult for me, for my family, for my team, for my friends and for many, many people that I love," he said. "This ordeal has been designed to cause an incredible amount of strain on my family. Millions of dollars in mounting legal bills, endless personal attacks designed to cause maximum damage to family and friends."

The governor said it was clear for "the forces that oppose us" that there was no end in sight. He said he had not broken any laws, nor committed any offense worthy of that treatment.

Greitens went on to say it had been an honor to serve as governor. He said he will always be a fighter for the people of Missouri.

As his voice broke, Greitens said the time had come to tend to those who had been wounded and "to care for those who need us most."

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said her office reached a "fair and just resolution" on criminal charges against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, now that he's stepping down. But, she said, details won't be released until Wednesday.

Gardner launched an investigation after Greitens admitted to a 2015 affair with his St. Louis hairdresser. The investigation led to a felony indictment in February on invasion of privacy, accusing Greitens of taking an unauthorized and compromising photo of the woman.

The charge was dropped earlier in May, but a special prosecutor was considering whether to refile it.

In April, Greitens was charged with another felony in St. Louis for allegedly using a charity donor list for political purposes.

Gardner said in the statement that the last several months have been difficult. She didn't say if one or both of the charges will be dropped.

A spokeswoman for Gardner declined to comment beyond the statement. Read it in full below:

"Today, Governor Eric Greitens announced his resignation as Missouri's Governor.

"The last several months have been difficult for all Missourians, not just those of us embroiled in these legal matters. In January, I opened an investigation in search of the truth. I believe it is essential for residents of the City of St. Louis and our state to have confidence in their leaders. I know my decision to charge Mr. Greitens in February and March with two felonies was met with both praise and criticism. As a prosecutor, my decisions must be based upon facts and evidence, regardless of the position or power of the accused. While that may have been unpopular at times, that's my job.

"I have been in contact with the Governor's defense team over the past several days. We have reached a fair and just resolution of the pending charges.  We will provide more information tomorrow.

"I want to thank the individuals who have cooperated with these investigations over the past few months in our search for the truth, particularly those who were willing to stand up to power regardless of how stormy some days were."

Lt. Governor Mike Parson

Lt. Governor Mike Parson will be sworn in as governor on Friday, June 1 at 5 p.m. when Greitens' resignation goes into effect.

Parson spent Wednesday, May 30 preparing for Friday's transition.

"We are taking every step and working around the clock to ensure Missouri state government does not miss a beat throughout this transition. My commitment to all Missourians is to listen to them and work together to advance the interests of our great state," Lt. Gov. Parson said.

Parson met with House Speaker Todd Richardson, Senate President Pro Tem Sen. Ron Richard, and legislators from both parties on Wednesday. He also reached out to all cabinet members. Parson is planning to hold a meeting with the cabinet early next week.

On Thursday, the incoming governor will receive a briefing from the Missouri Department of Public Safety's State Emergency Management Agency and finalize the details of the swearing-in ceremony.

Parson says he's planning a private ceremony Friday because of time constraints. He said he'll plan a public event later.

Parson says he'll be working for the rest of the week and weekend on his transition to the state's top executive. He says he'll have discussions later about how the open lieutenant governor's seat should be handled.

Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Parson is holding a prayer service and then a swearing-in ceremony to assume the governorship.

Parson will take over after current Gov. Eric Greitens resigns Friday amid allegations of sexual misconduct and campaign finance violations.

Both Greitens and Parson are Republicans, but the two ran separately and individually won races for their respective offices in 2016.

The prayer service at a Jefferson City Baptist church and swearing-in for Parson will be closed to the general public. Judge Mary Rhodes Russell will preside over Parson's swearing in.

Parson has cited time constraints for the initial private ceremony. Greitens announced his resignation just days before on Tuesday.

Parson has said he'll plan a public reception later.

Parson is a former state lawmaker, Polk County sheriff and cattle farmer from Bolivar. He said in a brief written statement that he is "ready to fulfill the duties of the office with honor and integrity."

Lt. Gov. Parson released the following statement on Tuesday, May 29:

"With Governor Greitens' decision to resign from office, he has put the best interests of our state and all Missourians at the forefront where they belong. This is a decision that will allow our state to heal and move forward from what has been a difficult time. This is an enormous responsibility serving as our state's next governor, and I am ready to fulfill the duties of the office with honor and integrity, and with a steadfast commitment to making our great state even greater for the people we are entrusted to serve."
One of Parson's first duties could be to decide whether to sign or veto numerous bills passed during the recently concluded legislative session.

According to the Associated Press, in February Missouri senators considered changing how the lieutenant governor's replacement was chosen.

On Wednesday, Feb. 8, senators debated a proposal to require the governor to call a special election to fill a vacancy in the lieutenant governor's office. No vote was taken.

The debate came after Greitens was indicted by a St. Louis grand jury on one felony count of invasion of privacy related to his 2015 extramarital affair. The House also has formed a committee to investigate.

Statements from lawmakers on Greitens' resignation

Republican Sen. Bob Dixon said the governor now can't appoint a replacement or call a special election to fill the lieutenant governor's seat if it becomes vacant. So if Parson leaves office to become governor, the lieutenant governor's seat would remain empty for the remainder of the term.

Former Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder talked to Heartland News exclusively about what's next for the office of the lieutenant governor.

Missouri Republican Party Chairman Todd Graves released this statement on Mike Parson:

"Throughout his tenure as a Sheriff, State Representative, and State Senator, Mike has always worked hard for Missourians, and I am certain he will continue to hold a strong commitment to our state as Governor. There is no doubt our Party has faced a difficult couple of months - but make no mistake - Missouri Republicans know there is much at stake this November and we will be united in our efforts to champion common sense conservative values across the board.

"The Missouri Republican Party looks forward to working with Mike Parson to defend our veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate. In addition, a united Republican Party will now focus on our number one goal: retiring Claire McCaskill from the United States Senate."

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill said, "I wish Lt. Governor Parson the best. I look forward to working with him."

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard released this statement:

“The last five months have been trying times for our state. Relationships were strained, and bonds were tested. When the governor took office in January of 2017, I had very high hopes. I believed we were on the path to building a better Missouri. This is not the position I imagined we would be in nearly 16 months later. However, I do believe the governor made the right decision.The governor’s office is bigger than one person. Missouri is strong. Just this session, the Legislature set the framework for greater economic growth. I have full confidence that Lt. Governor Mike Parson and other leaders across the state will continue building a better Missouri, while leading with conservative values. I can assure you, no matter what happens next, Missouri is in good hands.”

Majority Floor Leader Sen. Mike Kehoe released this statement:

"The governor's announcement marks the conclusion to a drama that has drawn on for far too long.  It is regrettable the state of Missouri is in this position, but far more regrettable would have been for this spectacle to continue to drag on. For all practical purposes, Missouri has been without a governor for the last five months, with the President Pro Tem and the Speaker of the House leading the state in the governor's absence. Our founding fathers designed a system of government to ensure Missouri is more than one individual, and this will be proven true again in the coming weeks and months."

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt released the following statement:

"The governor made the best decision for his family and the state. I look forward to Gov. Parson's leadership and will do everything I can to be helpful."

Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt released the following statement:

"Now is the time for the people of Missouri to come together and work toward a better future for our state. My focus is on helping to ensure a smooth transition of power so that state government can continue to serve Missourians without interruption. To that end, my office will be actively working with partners across state agencies and departments to help facilitate the transition process."

State Auditor Nichole Galloway released this statement:

"Corruption in state government became worse than ever under Eric Greitens. That corruption must be cleaned up, and our state's reputation must be restored. This can only happen if leaders put the needs of Missourians ahead of themselves."

Attorney General Josh Hawley had this to say:

"Governor Greitens has done the right thing today. I wish incoming Governor Mike Parson well, and stand ready to assist him in his transition. This Office's work for the people of Missouri goes forward."

House Speaker Todd Richardson, Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr and Majority Flood Leader Rob Vescovo issued this joint statement:

"We believe the Governor has put the best interest of Missourians first today by choosing to resign. The past few months have been difficult for everyone involved, including the Governor and his family. This is a serious and solemn occasion that reminds us that our state and our duty are bigger than any one person or party.

"The House stands ready to help ensure a smooth transition of power to Governor Parson. The hallmark of democracy is that our public service is temporary. Missouri has been blessed with an unbroken line of men and women in public service who have worked to make our state better, and the work of the many dedicated public servants, who work tirelessly for the people of Missouri, will continue.

"The responsibility the House undertook with its investigation is not a path any of us would have chosen, but it is one we were obligated to pursue in an effort to do what is best for our state. We want to thank the members of the Special Investigative Committee on Oversight for the serious and professional manner in which they went about their task. We also want to thank the staff for the countless hours and sacrifices they made.

"As public servants, our solemn duty is to put the best interests of the people of this great state first in every decision we make. The Governor's decision today honors that duty and allows Missouri to move forward toward a better tomorrow."

Two Missouri Republicans in the U.S. House said Greitens made the right choice in stepping down from office.

Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer and Ann Wagner spoke out after he made his announcement.

Months of scandal prior to announcement

It has been months of scandal and legal trouble for Greitens.

On January 10, 2018, the governor delivered the State of the State Address. Just a couple of hours later, CBS affiliate in St. Louis KMOV reported the governor had committed an extramarital affair in 2015 before he was governor. The governor later admitted to the affair.

The next day, on Jan. 11, the St. Louis circuit attorney launched an investigation to determine if the governor committed crimes linked to that affair. In a recording, the woman at the center of the affair claimed Greitens took a partially nude photo of her and threatened to release it if she told anyone about the affair.

Greitens denied those allegations.

On Monday, Feb. 5, we learned that a grand jury had been convened to consider possible charges against the governor.

On Feb. 22, that charge was announced. It was an invasion of privacy charge. Immediately, state Democrats called for the governor to resign. He resisted those calls and released a statement declaring his innocence.

On April 17, the Missouri Attorney General announced his office found that Greitens' use of a charity donor list broke the law. Three days later the governor faced a second felony charge, this one being felony computer tampering.

On May 3, state lawmakers announced they had enough signatures to hold a special session to consider impeaching Governor Greitens. It was stated to begin on May 18, the same day the state legislative session ended.

The governor's trial on the invasion of privacy felony started on May 10. It didn't make it through jury selection before the charges were dropped by prosecutors on Monday, May 14. It happened when the Greitens' defense team made a motion to call the circuit attorney as a witness.

A special prosecutor was appointed to consider whether those charges should be refiled.

Since the special session convened on May 18, a Missouri House Committee sent Greitens a subpoena to testify in front of it.

Earlier on Tuesday, May 29, the Associated Press reported Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem ruled a group that supports Greitens must turn over documents subpoenaed by a legislative committee trying to determine whether to bring impeachment proceedings against him.

An attorney for Greitens' campaign and the group, A New Missouri, argued that the subpoena was beyond the scope of the committee's investigation.

Copyright 2018 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press also contributed to this story.