This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
By Gloria Lloyd
Gov. Eric Greitens announced Tuesday he will become the first governor of Missouri to resign since 1857, effective at 5 p.m. Friday, June 1.
The embattled governor did not specify his reasons for resigning or take any questions as he made the announcement around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in his Jefferson City office. He has been under fire on several fronts since his admission in January that he had an affair with his hairstylist during his campaign for governor, and the hairstylist’s ex-husband claimed that the governor blackmailed her with a photo he took of her against her will.
“Let us walk off the battlefield with our heads held high,” Greitens said through tears. “We have a good and proud story to tell our children.”
Lt. Gov. Mike Parson will be sworn in as governor to replace Greitens and serve the rest of his four-year term.
The governor, a former Navy SEAL and Rhodes Scholar who took office in January 2017 as an outsider pledging to fight corruption, faces two potential felony charges and a current special session of the Missouri House of Representatives to consider impeaching him.
Throughout his statement, Greitens alluded several times to the investigations against him, which he said were “designed” to cause stress and havoc.
“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, legal harassment of colleagues, friends and campaign workers,” Greitens said. “And it’s clear that for the forces that oppose us, there is no end in sight. I cannot allow those forces to continue to cause pain and diffuculty to the people that I love. I know, and people of good faith know, that I am not perfect. But I have not broken any laws or committed any offense worthy of this treatment. I will let the fairness of this process be judged by history.”
Greitens was charged with a felony in the city of St. Louis for invasion of privacy for allegedly taking that photo and transmitting it onto a computer, but the charge was dropped last week. The case is currently under consideration for possible refiling of charges by the Jackson County prosecuting attorney. But the governor also faces a pending felony charge, also in the city of St. Louis, for computer tampering for allegedly using the donor list from his nonprofit organization, The Mission Continues, for campaign donations for his campaign for governor.
The governor has seen remarkably little public support from lawmakers in Jefferson City, either Republican or Democrats, after comparing them to schoolchildren when he called them back for several special sessions last year. Leadership from the House and Senate issued statements welcoming the resignation.
“Let us allow history and God to bring justice,” the governor said.
Reaction from fellow statewide elected officials was also swift.
“Corruption in state government became worse than ever under Eric Greitens,” State Auditor Nicole Galloway said. “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 said, “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.”
State Treasurer Eric Schmitt said, “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.”
U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner said, “Governor Eric Greitens has made the right decision for his family and for the State of Missouri. Now is the time for us to move forward, and I have faith in our next Governor, Mike Parson, to lead us in the months and years to come.”