JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ administration posted a document bearing an unauthorized signature of another elected official to Greitens’ website shortly after he took office, according to records obtained Friday by The Associated Press.
At issue is an executive order issued by the Republican governor on Jan. 10, 2017 — his second day in office— that directed state agencies to halt all rulemaking and review ways to reduce state regulations.
Records provided to the AP in response to an open-records request show that the version posted to the governor’s website in January 2017 differed from the official version filed with Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft.
Although Ashcroft never approved the version on the governor’s website, his signature nonetheless appeared on the document.
Greitens spokesman Parker Briden said Friday that a “draft version” of the executive order “was accidentally uploaded to the new website.” But Briden said he doesn’t know why or how Ashcroft’s signature was placed on it.
The records provided by Ashcroft’s office include multiple copies of the official executive order, one of which Ashcroft signed personally as “John R. Ashcroft” and another of which was signed “Jay Ashcroft” by an autopen machine that is frequently used by the office.
The records also include a version of the executive order printed from Greitens’ official website by a secretary of state’s employee on Jan. 10 or Jan. 11 that contains numerous wording differences from the original and bears a “Jay Ashcroft” signature that appears similar to the one from the autopen machine.
Ashcroft spokeswoman Maura Browning said that when the secretary of state’s office discovered the differences it set up a meeting with Greitens and they came up with a solution to ensure that it wouldn’t happen again.
Briden said the governor’s office first discovered the discrepancy but confirmed that Ashcroft and Greitens met personally to address the issue.
“The process for posting these orders was changed to ensure that final, accurate versions are available for people to read online,” Briden said.
When users of Greitens’ website click on a link for his executive orders, it now redirects them to the official versions posted on the secretary of state’s website.
Briden noted that President Donald Trump’s administration also had posted inaccurate texts of Trump’s executive orders online shortly after he took office in 2017.
Greitens already is facing multiple investigations, two criminal charges and the prospect of impeachment during an upcoming special legislative session.
He’s charged in St. Louis with invasion of privacy for allegedly taking and transmitting an unauthorized photo of a woman while she was nude, blindfolded and bound in the basement of his St. Louis home in 2015. He has admitted to an affair but denied criminal wrongdoing.
In a court filing late Thursday, Greitens attorneys asked St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison to approve a bench trial in place of the jury trial scheduled to start May 14. Burlison turned down a similar request in March.
“Gov. Greitens was hopeful that a fair and impartial jury could be impaneled,” the motion states. “However, the constant negative publicity about Gov. Greitens has destroyed any chance of obtaining a fair jury.”
Greitens also faces a felony charge of computer data tampering for allegedly using a donor list from the veterans’ charity he founded, The Mission Continues, to raise money for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign. A trial date in that case has not been set.
A Missouri House panel is also investigating the governor, and lawmakers will convene May 18 in a special session to consider impeachment. If the House votes to impeach Greitens, which requires 82 votes, the Senate then would appoint a panel of seven judges to conduct a trial on whether to remove him from office. No governor has ever been forced from office in Missouri.
Although lawmakers gathered more than the constitutionally required signatures of three-fourths of the members of each chamber to summon themselves into a special session, some wavered before finally agreeing to the plan.
Several lawmakers signed the petition then crossed out their names. Some signed and re-signed as many as three times.
Republican Rep. Bryan Spencer said Friday he initially signed the petition a couple of weeks ago “to find out what the truth is” about the allegations against the governor. Spencer said he later scratched his name off after hearing from a couple hundred constituents, many of whom said they don’t want Greitens impeached and believe the special session is a “waste of taxpayer dollars.”
“I take my job very seriously. I don’t always vote my conscience because I try to vote the way the people back home want me to vote,” Spencer said.
Greitens has brushed aside widespread calls for resignation from legislative leaders in both parties, blaming a “political witch hunt” for the allegations against him.