Missouri Governor Eric Greitens: So long, farewell, burn in Hell!
Eric Greitens | AP

Hope not ever to see Heaven. I have come to lead you to the other shore; into the eternal darkness; into fire and ice”– Dante Aligheri, Inferno

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens announced his resignation abruptly Tuesday afternoon, facing a growing impeachment effort from the state legislature, criminal investigations, and unfavorable judicial rulings.

The resignation, effective Friday at 5 p.m., came shortly after a ruling by a Cole County judge that would force Greitens’ campaign and a dark-money political group affiliated with the governor to reveal fundraising information to the special House investigative committee.

“The Court finds the requests are within the authority of the requester,” wrote Circuit Judge Jon E. Beetem in his six-page decision. “The Court further finds and believes that time is of the essence and production should begin immediately and, absent good cause shown, said production should be completed by June 1, 2018.”

Greitens for Missouri and A New Missouri were ordered to turn over communications between the groups and policies “concerning coordination of communication between the two.

A New Missouri was also ordered to turn over receipts of paid media, content of paid media, and communications regarding paid media.

Greitens’ rise as the GOP’s golden boy in Missouri was marked by promises to take on “career politicians” and chuck the “culture of corruption” in Jefferson City. He focused on his “tough guy” persona, his time in the military, and his commitment to uphold “law and order.” One year later, his administration was bogged down by scandal—untraceable campaign donations, self-destructing mobile text apps, charity donor lists and sexual assault charges to name a few.

Yet, despite all those damning revelations, Greitens resisted stepping down—I’m guessing he thought he could get away with it just like Donald J. Trump.

As he took the podium Tuesday, I made sure to tune up a tiny violin in preparation for his “woe is me” press conference.

“The last few months have been incredibly difficult for me, for my family, for my team, for my friends and for many, many people that I love. 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,” said Greitens in his prepared remarks. “Legal harassment of colleagues, friends and campaign workers. 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 difficulty 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 nor committed any offense worthy of this treatment. I will let the fairness of this process be judged by history. It has been a great honor and a privilege to serve as your governor.”

I would like to make one thing clear: This resignation isn’t real justice, just an illusion of it.

While we can, and should celebrate his departure, let’s not forget that Greitens’ isn’t resigning because he sexually assaulted a woman, or took advantage of veterans and donors to increase his campaign war chest.

The proverbial “blood in the water” that attracted enough sharks to drive Greitens back to shore was the potential consequences that would befall his dark-money donors and their ability to conduct politics behind closed doors—nothing more.

Unfortunately, this terrifying trend of corrupt politicians—on both sides of the aisle– getting a mere “slap on the wrist” for crimes committed against the public interest continues to strangle the very illusion of democracy.

The damage is done. They walk away from smoldering ruins, leaving voters and working people to pick up the pieces.

This isn’t even the first time this same scenario has played out in the headlines: Monday, April 10, 2017 Alabama gov. Robert Bentley resigned from office facing impeachment, after an investigation into his sexual affair with a top aide, and plead guilty to two misdemeanor campaign violations, that were discovered during the affair investigation—similar to Greitens.

Did Bentley’s guilty plea include jail time? Nope.

It came down to 100 hours of community service as a medical doctor and surrender $37,000 in campaign funds.

Before Bentley came House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who resigned in 2016 after an ethics violations conviction, and former state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, who was suspended from his post over his unethical order opposing same-sex marriage.

The list goes on and on, at the cost of victims, taxpayers, voters.

The message is clear. If you are going to be corrupt and commit felonies or worse crimes your best bet is to be a politician. When a politician is caught committing a serious crime he gets off simply by offering to quit, by resigning his job. How many construction workers or fast food clerks who commit crimes get off by offering to quit their jobs? None that I know of.

And don’t expect such a “slap on the wrist” for any Black person caught with a bit of weed, undocumented immigrants seeking a new life or looking for asylum, and activists fighting oppression. They will get the maximum penalty.

In addition to not getting the punishment they deserve for lining their own pockets, often with public money, politicians like Greitens receive no penalty for having inflicted serious damage upon the working people they are supposed to have represented. Greitens severely damaged his people and his state after having played a major role in trying to turn Missouri into a right-to-work-for-less state and for rolling back the minimum wage hikes for thousands.. How will he ever be made to pay for that damage – a damage that translates into lost wages, lost jobs, more poverty, more illness and more hardship for the people of the state.

It’s amazing what you can get away with when you have dark-money donors and supporters.

What’s next?

St Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner who led the initial invasion of privacy case against the governor announced Wednesday that her office had reached an agreement with Greitens’ legal team to drop the separate felony date-tampering case involving the use of a veterans charity’s donor list for political fundraising.

“It is time for us to move on,” Gardner said, adding: “Sometimes pursuing charges is not the right thing to do for our city or our state.” Certainly not for the dark donors and those behind them or for the union busters whom Greitens served so well.

The agreement was reached over the weekend when Greitens’ attorney’s contacted Gardner and proposed resignation if the felony charge was dropped—I’m willing to bet that’s the part that was redacted in the court document made public. The case will be dismissed with prejudice—meaning it cannot be refiled—once the resignation becomes official. You quit your job and that’s all it takes for absolution – no need to even add a few Hail Marys and Our Fathers!

Opposite that, Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, who was selected as special prosecutor after the invasion of privacy charge related to his sexual assault was dropped earlier this month, said that the investigation will continue.

“In the interest of pursuing justice to its fullest lengths, we will continue until our work on the case is completed,” Baker said in a statement. “Specifically regarding any deals we made with Gov. Greitens’ attorneys, no deals were made by my office. Our review of this case, as I have stated before, will be pursued without fear or favor.”

The House committee canceled the remaining hearings and will “wrap up its work in short order,” and Missouri’s 57th lieutenant governor Mike Parson, 62, a Republican cattle-farmer will become the 57th Governor.

Parson released a statement through his office saying: “With Governor Greitens’ decision to resign from office, he has put the best interests of our state and all Missourians at the forefront where they belong. This is a decision that will allow our state to heal and move forward from what has been a difficult time. This is an enormous responsibility serving as our state’s next governor, and I am ready to fulfill the duties of the office with honor and integrity, and with a steadfast commitment to making our great state even greater for the people we are entrusted to serve.”

He said nothing about reversing the damage Greitens and his party have doene to the people of Missouri. The policies the party pushed through with Greitens help remain in effect.

As we close the book on this political fiasco and hope to move past such a fantastic failure, I’ll be cranking up the Rolling Stones and singing, “’Cause summer’s here and the time is right for fighting in the street…”

Let’s hit the doors, the ballot boxes, street corners, and union halls—it’s the only way we’ll rid ourselves of Republican swine and keep Missouri a proud union state.


Al Neal
Al Neal

Award winning journalist Al Neal is PW associate editor for labor and politics. He is also the chief photographer for People's World. He is a member of the Chicago News Guild, Society of Professional Journalists, Professional Photographers of America, National Sports Media Association, and The Ernest Brooks Foundation.