For the first time in history, the Missouri House and Senate are calling themselves into a special session.
It will involve recommendations for Governor Eric Greitens, who has been indicted in St. Louis City for invasion of privacy and charged in that jurisdiction for an unrelated computer tampering case.
Greitens has denied wrongdoing in both cases.
House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, made the announcement to the Capitol Press Corps in a rare Thursday evening press conference at the Statehouse in Jefferson City.
“This was not a decision made lightly, and certainly not without great deliberation and effort,” says Richardson.
It takes a three-fourths majority of both chambers to call themselves into a special session. Richardson tells Capitol reporters 138 House members and 29 state senators have signed the petition.
“Regretfully, the call of this historic act is for the sole purpose to consider the findings and recommendation of the House committee, including disciplinary actions against Governor Greitens,” Richardson says.
Richardson says a special session means the bipartisan House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight will have the time it needs to finish its investigation.
The special session will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Friday May 18, which is the final day of the 2018 session.
It takes 123 House members and 26 state senators to get to the three-fourths mark.
“Members signed this petition because they believe in a fair process that will not be rushed to conclusion by an artificial deadline,” says Richardson.
Speaker Richardson says the House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight is in the process of calling more witnesses and reviewing more documents.
Richardson says lawmakers have 30 days to complete their work, during the special session.
Speaker Richardson was joined at Thursday night’s press conference by Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, and House Majority Leader Rob Vescovo, R-Arnold.
Pro Tem Richard tells reporters this process “has monumental consequences.”
“We do respect the process, I do believe the (House) Speaker is right, that extra time may be needed to make sure all the facts are found,” Richard says.
Senator Kehoe did not speak at the press conference, nor did Majority Leader Vescovo.
As for Richardson, he says he had hoped from the start of the process that the committee would find no wrongdoing, so they could bring the investigation to a close.
Richardson says the House committee’s investigation has been to collect facts, adding that the committee has made itself available for any witness, including Greitens, to testify. Richardson indicates that invitation still stands.
The committee issued its second report on Wednesday, which involved the Mission Continues charity.
The legal counsel for Greitens for Missouri, former U.S. Attorney and former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, issued a statement saying that the report issued Wednesday by the House committee “does a tremendous disservice” to the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions. She says Committee Chairman Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, did not issue any subpoenas to the campaign relating to Mission Continues issues.
Missouri voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1988 giving the Legislature the authority to conduct a special session when it deems necessary. That happens for the first time in 30 years on May 18.
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