The Missouri House Speaker says leaders in his chamber have begun the process of calling themselves into a special session in Jefferson City, to make recommendations about Republican Governor Eric Greitens.
House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, tells the Capitol Press Corps the signatures have come from Republicans thus far.
“I haven’t seen the updated proclamation, but a substantial number of the members of our (Republican) caucus and we’ll begin working with members of the minority (Democratic) caucus next week for their signatures,” Richardson says.
It would take a three-fourths majority of both the Missouri House and Senate to call themselves into a special session.
Richardson tells reporters he doesn’t have the three-fourths yet.
While Republicans control the House 115-47, they’ll need Democratic votes to get to three-fourths.
It would take 123 votes of the 163-member Missouri House and 26 in the 34-member Senate to get to that mark.
House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, also briefed Capitol reporters on Thursday, at a separate news conference.
Beatty says it’s premature for House members to sign a petition to call themselves into a special session regarding the governor’s future. She wants lawmakers to focus on this issue, before the 2018 session ends on May 18.
“That we need to make sure we give the investigative committee adequate time to meet,” says Beatty. “And should we need a special session, then we should do so. But we are still four weeks out from the end of session.”
Speaker Richardson indicated again on Thursday that the House committee investigating the governor’s indictment will likely be unable to make recommendations to the Legislature before the session ends.
“I’m not going to put any artificial deadline on this committee,” Richardson says. “When the committee is finished with their work and makes their recommendations, the House will be in a position to take it up.”
As for Beatty, she issued a statement earlier this week, saying, in part, that Greitens “is unfit to serve as governor.” She also called for his resignation.
Governor Greitens has blasted the House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight’s 24-page report, describing it as “one-sided tabloid trash gossip.”
Greitens also notes the committee has held its meetings behind closed doors, where his representatives and news reporters could not attend.
Richardson said last week that the House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight’s report does not pass judgment on Greitens’ guilt or innocence in the St. Louis case, adding that’s for the courts and a jury to decide.
Speaker Richardson also says a St. Louis judge’s decision Thursday in Greitens’ criminal case does not impact the work of the bipartisan House committee investigating the governor’s indictment.
“As I said last week, the Missouri Legislature is a separate and co-equal branch of government and no matter how that case, that decision, had gone today (Thursday), the House and the Senate would continue to go through our process,” says Richardson.
Richardson says the House committee’s role and responsibilities are different than the court.
A St. Louis grand jury has indicted Greitens for one felony count of invasion of privacy, for an alleged March 2015 incident. Greitens has admitted to an affair, but has denied any criminal wrongdoing.
On Thursday, St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison rejected the governor’s request to dismiss the charge against him.
Greitens’ jury trial is scheduled to begin May 14.
Greitens’ lawyer, former U.S. Attorney Ed Dowd, has said that the release of any House report before the May trial date in St. Louis would impact Greitens’ ability to obtain a fair trial.
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