Missouri House, Senate leaders urge Greitens to resign; governor says he won’t

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Leaders of the Missouri House of Representatives are calling for Gov. Eric Greitens to resign Tuesday.

In a joint statement, House Speaker Todd Richardson, House Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr and House Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo all urged the Republican governor to step down.

Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens delivers a victory speech Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in Chesterfield, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Curry)

The three House leaders issued the following statement:

“At the outset of this process, we said the governor needed to be forthright and accountable for his actions. After thoughtful consideration of the findings in the House committee’s report and today’s news that the Attorney General has evidence to support another felony charge, we believe the governor needs to take responsibility for his actions.

"Leaders at all levels of government are entrusted with an incredible responsibility to the Missourians we represent. When leaders lose the ability to effectively lead our state, the right thing to do is step aside.  In our view, the time has come for the governor to resign.”

The House Minority Leader also called for Greitens to resign.

"When the attorney general comes out and says there are definitely violations that are impeachable as well as possibly criminal, that was a little shocking," Gail McCann Beatty said. "And it just says that we need to be moving forward, and it is time for this governor to resign. If he refuses, we need to move forward with impeachment."

And Missouri Senate Pro Tem Ron Richard issued the following statement, calling for an impeachment:

“For the last several months, I have been in constant contact with the speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives and the Missouri attorney general. We have reached a critical turning point in the allegations made against the governor. The decisions made going forward will have a significant effect on the state of Missouri. After speaking with the attorney general today, I believe the governor has no other respectable option than to resign from office.

"We are past the point of concerning and alarming. Since his time in office, the governor has caused tension, conflict and hostility. The weight of his actions are being felt throughout the state. Now, these alleged illegal actions are further harmful to the people of Missouri and do not represent Missouri values. It’s time for the governor to find the courage in his heart and do what is in the best interests of the people he serves and step aside.

"This is not a sentiment held lightly. Serving the people of Missouri is an extraordinary honor, one I believe requires each elected official to rise to the occasion. Sometimes that occasion is knowing when it’s time to step aside.

"Because of the severity of the allegations, it is my wish that we immediately start impeachment proceedings.”

But Greitens is standing firm in the Governor's Office. He said Tuesday night he will not resign.

"I will not be resigning the Governor's office," he said in a statement. "In three weeks, this matter will go to a court of law — where it belongs and where the facts will prove my innocence. Until then, I will do what the people of Missouri sent me here to do: to serve them and work hard on their behalf."

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced Tuesday that his investigation into Greitens' charity, The Mission Continues, has uncovered evidence of criminal activity. Hawley in no uncertain terms also called on Greitens to resign.

Hawley said his investigation revealed evidence that Greitens' use of the charity's donor list broke the law. He said the governor's "serious misconduct" is an "impeachable offense."

The Associated Press first reported in October 2016 that Greitens' campaign had obtained a list of top donors to The Mission Continues. The AP found that Greitens' campaign had raised nearly $2 million from donors who previously gave significant amounts to The Mission Continues. Hawley said his office found evidence that Greitens transmitted that list without permission in violation of the law.

Greitens already faces a felony invasion-of-privacy charge in St. Louis for allegedly taking and transmitting a nonconsensual photo of a partially nude woman with whom Greitens said he had an affair.

Separately, a special House investigatory committee is to recommend whether to pursue impeachment proceedings against Greitens.

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