By Kyle Mannisi, Opinions Editor
On February 22, Missouri’s embattled Governor Eric Greitens was indicted and booked on a felony invasion of privacy charge at St. Louis’ Carnahan Courthouse. The grand jury indictment stems from a March 2015 affair with his former hairdresser in the basement of his Central West End home. The three-year statute of limitation window had almost closed before St. Louis circuit attorney Kim Gardner issued a warrant for Greitens’ arrest. If convicted on felony charges, Greitens faces the possibility of up to four years in jail. While it is too early to see what the governor’s fate will be, we can look at the facts presented before us.
Greitens did confirm that he had an affair with the woman in 2015, shortly before his “family values” centered campaign, but denied any other wrongdoing. His lawyer’s original argument for appeal claimed that any actions taken were “consensual”. The current law prescribes that there be a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in order for the invasion of privacy charge to apply. However, one would never expect that a photo would be taken of them without permission in a compromising position.
Elected officials ought to be held to a higher standard than the general population, as it is essential for the residents of the state of Missouri to have confidence in their leaders. However, the governor is undoubtedly receiving special treatment from law enforcement and the judicial system. Benefitting from his government position, status, connections, and personal wealth, Greitens won’t have to worry about any of the usual stresses associated with a criminal indictment. He didn’t have to post bond. He doesn’t have to be concerned with whether or not he would be released when they said he would. He won’t have to worry about not being able to go to work the next day. Greitens is also being allowed to freely travel throughout the United States, a luxury that very few people are granted. Any member of the general public would have never been indicted and charged in such a lax manner.
Most importantly, he’ll have the best attorneys bringing forth the best arguments that money can buy. Speaking of money, Greitens’ reliance on “dark money” has been a concerning development despite his pre-election rhetoric of cleaning up Jefferson City. Transparency and Governor Greitens go together like oil and water.
The schadenfreude is strong in Jefferson City, as Governor Greitens has come under fire from both sides of the aisle for “using anonymous campaign contributions to attack Republican senators and the Democratic state auditor.” He claims that political motivations are behind his indictment, coming from the “reckless liberal prosecutor” Kim Gardner. The Missouri GOP issued a claim that George Soros-aligned groups are responsible for the “political hit job” that Greitens is currently mired in.
They also claim that they seek to “ensure St. Louis liberals aren’t controlling the future of our state,” which is an interesting claim considering the state legislature has time and time again blocked the city of St. Louis from self-determination.
Shortly after assuming office, Greitens put forth plans to convert Missouri into a Right-to-Work state, which undermines unions and hands even more control over to big business. Later, despite a successful popular vote in St. Louis to increase the city’s minimum wage from $7.70 to $10 an hour, Greitens blocked the measure, forcing the city to abide by the statewide standard.
Greitens’ comments and actions clearly convey that he couldn’t care less about the residents of the city of St. Louis, but rather, his goals lie in the preservation and advancement of his own political career. After all, he bought the website “ericgreitensforpresident.com” months before he even ran for Governor. Greitens is a determined individual, and will likely press forward and try to remain in office during the trial, although his defenders are increasingly hard to find. This will prove troubling for a state executive position that relies on cooperation to accomplish his lofty Trumpian goals for Missouri. It currently seems as though impeachment will be the most likely way that he will be ousted from his position.
The fact of the matter is simple; there would not be an indictment if the prosecuting attorney’s office did not have sufficient evidence of wrongdoing. Governor Greitens is going to be facing a difficult road ahead of him, and he has absolutely no one to blame but himself.