Uniform anger and disgust wouldn’t be an overstatement to describe the mood of the Missouri Senate Thursday.
After the Wednesday release of a House committee’s report on misconduct by Governor Eric Greitens and the governor’s fiery denial of wrongdoing, members of the upper chamber took aim at the first-time elected official.
Republican Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard of Joplin was especially put-off by Greitens’ description of the investigation into his activities.
“I don’t like the fact that some on the second floor have called this a witch hunt and impugning the integrity of these members,” said Richard. “I mean these are the most distinguished, respected members of both sides on this committee. And they’re just sitting and listening.”
A bipartisan group of seven House members – 5 Republicans and 2 Democrats – is probing the Republican governor’s alleged blackmail threats against a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair in 2015.
All of the members signed the report, which explained that it was not tasked with making recommendations for any actions to be taken by the House or Senate.
Greitens held a news conference one hour before the Wednesday 5 p.m. release of the document, where he called it “one-sided tabloid trash gossip” and said the committee is on a witch hunt.
GOP Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe of Jefferson City joined a growing chorus of state lawmakers Thursday morning in calling for Greitens to resign. He found the governor’s defiant response to the committee report unacceptable.
“The governor’s comments to me were arrogant and not humbling,” said Kehoe. “And I think this is a time when he needs to be that way. And my statement today was that I’m worried. And I have come to the conclusion that his ability to lead is not going to be there.”
In his statement, Kehoe said Greitens has lost the “moral authority and the ability to lead.”
Joining the bipartisan chorus of angry state Senators was Democratic Leader Gina Walsh of Bellefontaine Neighbors. She was offended by the report, which detailed alleged physical violence and sexual aggression by Greitens.
“It is extremely heinous, what came out in that report said Walsh. “And I have no faith in that man or his ability to be working down on the second floor in this state.”
Another twist surfaced Thursday morning in Greitens criminal court case related the subject matter of the House investigation.
Greitens’ defense team announced that the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office had turned over a videotaped interview of the woman with whom Greitens was having the affair an hour after the House report was released.
The defense accused Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner of withholding evidence and said it would ask for sanctions against her and seek to interview the woman again. The defense team also asked the judge to reconsider its previous motion to dismiss the case against Greitens.
In a tweet Thursday afternoon, Greitens accused Gardner of hiding a video that directly contradicts the allegations in the House report. The circuit attorney’s office had previously said there had been a malfunction with the machine used to record the interview which was conducted by the prosecution’s hired private investigator, William Tisaby.