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Government, Politics & Issues

Some Missouri lawmakers still backing Greitens, despite growing legal troubles

File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens following his 2017 State of the State Address. To his right is Rep. Diane Franklin, who says her constituents are supporting the governor despite his legal troubles.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is still getting support from some legislators, despite being charged on Friday with illegally obtaining a list of donors from a charity he founded years ago.

Rep. Diane Franklin, R-Camdenton, who represents portions of Fort Leonard Wood and the Lake of the Ozarks area, said the people she’s talked to in her district think Greitens is doing a good job as governor.

“I guess there’s maybe a rural and city divide on a lot of issues, and this is one of them,” she said. “The folks that I represent – as I’m out and about in the rural area – that’s how they feel about it.”

House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, Senate President Pro-tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, and several other Republican leaders have called on Greitens to resign. But Franklin is taking a wait-and-see approach and said she hasn’t seen any clear-cut evidence that Greitens has done anything wrong.

“We don’t have the outcome of the trial, and if we just wait we’ll have the answers to these questions and then we can act appropriately.”

Late Friday, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner filed another felony charge against the governor – computer tampering – based on evidence she received last week from Attorney General Josh Hawley’s investigation into whether Greitens used a donor list from The Mission Continues without its permission.

Fellow Republican, Sen. Ed Emery of Lamar, is also taking a wait-and-see approach on whether Greitens should leave office. But he suggests the governor hasn’t helped himself much by his public stances.

“I think probably the thing that may be hurting him the most is there doesn’t seem to be much of a spirit of repentance over some of the activities [he’s accused of],” Emery said. “By his own choice he did not testify to the House committee, and I don’t know whether that’s just the advice of his lawyers or what it was.”

State Rep. Kathie Conway, R-St. Charles, maintains that the governor should resign. She said his mounting legal problems are harming the legislature’s ability to conduct business.

Credit Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
State Rep. Kathie Conway, R-St. Charles, says Greitens should resign.

“The budget’s still sitting in the Senate, they’ve got to work on that – I’m an appropriations chair, [and] there’s a lot that I need to get done with that budget before we leave here,” she said. “It’s the elephant in the room, and I guess I mean by that the GOP elephant in the room. This is not a witch hunt – this is the GOP, the Republicans, and the Capitol as a whole trying to police themselves and trying do the right thing.”

Conway also thinks the controversy surrounding Greitens could harm Republican candidates running for office this fall, including the U.S. Senate contest.

“Right from the Senate race all the way down to local races, I think this is really bad for the [Republican] party,” she said.

Hawley, who has called on Greitens to resign, is hoping to challenge Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in November.

Greitens continues to resist calls to resign and has predicted that a jury will “prove my innocence” in next month’s invasion of privacy trial. As to the computer tampering charge, he said, “when I have my day in court, I will clear my name. People will know the truth.”

Follow Marshall on Twitter:@MarshallGReport

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