The Missouri Constitution gives the legislature the authority to impeach state elected officials based on things like crimes, misconduct, habitual drunkenness or moral turpitude. House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, tells reporters that investigating allegations about Governor Eric Greitens and possibly taking action against him are two of the most important issues this session, aside from passing a state budget.
Missouri House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty addresses Capitol reporters on March 15, 2018 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)
“It (Constitution) clearly allows us to look at this,” she says. “We are looking at his (Greitens’) integrity. We are looking at moral turpitude.”
Moral turpitude is considered “an act or behavior that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community”.
“It (Constitution) does not necessarily say that all of the things considered has to be while in office. He was clearly a candidate at the time in which all of this happened,” McCann Beatty says.
The legislature needs the support of three-quarters of its members to call themselves in for a special session after the governor’s scheduled court trial – a move Republican leadership in both chambers back. The House would need 82 votes to advance articles of impeachment to the Senate. The upper chamber would then choose seven judges to try the case with five required to remove Greitens from office.
Attorneys for Greitens are requesting a judge to dismiss his criminal indictment. His defense lawyers are accusing prosecutors of misconduct for withholding a videotaped interview of the governor’s former mistress. In court today, Greitens’ attorneys said prosecutors who initially said the recorder had a malfunction released a copy of the tape last night – the same night as a Missouri House unveiled findings of its investigation about governor.
If the governor is cleared in his criminal trial, McCann Beatty says the decision would not stop the legislature from taking action against Greitens.
A House committee report says Greitens’ ex-mistress did not give him permission to rip her shirt open or pull her pants down during a 2015 sexual meeting. It has led to several Republican and Democratic lawmakers, including McCann Beatty, to line up and call for his resignation.
Greitens, R, says Missourians know far better than to trust “one-sided tabloid trash gossip produced in a secret report.” The governor has waived his right to testify to the committee and indicates he will face the lawmakers after his court trial.