Missouri lawmakers divided over impeaching Greitens

JEFFERSON CITY, MO - Lawmakers in Jefferson City are divided over whether impeachment proceedings against Governor Eric Greitens should begin.  House Republicans are sticking to what Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, has said.  They want to wait until a Special Investigative Committee finishes its report.  House Democrats believe the impeachment process should begin immediately.

The committee released its findings regarding an invasion of privacy charge Greitens is facing but has asked for more time to examine accusations the governor illegally shared donor information from his charity to his campaign.

“There’s plenty of evidence that we have in the report that’s already been released that we could move forward with impeachment proceedings,” said Minority Whip Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia.

Kendrick points out impeachment does not mean removal from office.  The Missouri Senate would select 7 jurists to determine the governor’s fate after the House voted for impeachment.

“If he does not resign we should move forward with impeachment soon,” said Kendrick.

Governor Greitens has stated he has no intentions of resigning.  He denies any criminal wrongdoing and has called the cases against him political witch hunts.

Republicans feel the better course of action is to wait until the committee investigating the governor finishes its work.  If the report is not released by the end of the legislative session lawmakers could be asked to return to Jefferson City to deal with the governor’s fate in special session.

“We want to make sure we won’t be rushed,” said State Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington. “That’s why I’m all in favor of doing an extended session if we need to because we’re not going to rush this committee.”

Engler and other Republicans said the house should move quickly once the committee makes a recommendation.

“If we take up impeachment, we want to make sure we do it right,” said State Rep. Nate Walker, R-Kirksville.

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, said the governor’s problems have become too much of a distraction.

“There’s a dark cloud over the state of Missouri,” said Nasheed.  “Everybody’s paying attention.  Everybody’s watching and we’re like the laughing stock right now.”