Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks at a news conference April 11 in Jefferson City, Mo. (J.B. Forbes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via A)
ST. LOUIS — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, already facing a felony invasion-of-privacy charge related to blindfolding and taking a photo of a woman, was charged Friday with two felony counts of computer tampering.
The new charge stems from investigations by the state attorney general and the St. Louis circuit attorney into claims that Greitens used the donor list of a veterans charity to raise funds for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign without the organization’s knowledge or consent.
On Tuesday, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said he was turning over evidence to the circuit attorney ahead of a pending statute of limitations deadline this Sunday.
The governor, as he has after every accusation, came out swinging. He accused the circuit attorney of wasting taxpayer money and indicated he’d go to trial.
“I will have my day in court. I will clear my name. This prosecutor can come after me with everything she’s got, but as all faithful people know: In time comes the truth. And the time for truth is coming,” he said in a statement.
Greitens accused Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner of bringing the charges because the original case against him was falling apart. Last week, a special state House committee released a report about the incident that led to that case in which a woman accused him of unwanted sexual contact. The woman, Greitens’s former hairdresser, said that in 2015, before his gubernatorial run, he groped her and slapped her. She also said in testimony that Greitens blindfolded her and taped her hands to exercise equipment and then took a photo of her and that she felt “coerced, maybe,” to perform oral sex on him.
Greitens has admitted to an extramarital affair but denied wrongdoing. A trial in that case is scheduled for May 14.
According to documents filed Friday by Gardner’s office, a source within the nonprofit the Mission Continues admitted to helping a “political fundraiser working on behalf of Greitens for Missouri” transmit the donor list “at the direction of the defendant” in violation of Missouri law and the charity’s internal policies. Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, established the organization in 2007 to help veterans reintegrate through community service after returning from war. He left it in 2014, a year before announcing his candidacy for the governor’s office.
“We believe the evidence we have will support a finding of probable cause that the governor obtained the list, transmitted the list, used the list without the permission of the Mission Continues, and that he did so for political fundraising purposes,” Hawley said. “That is a finding that would support prosecution in this case.”
The charges Friday add a new layer of trouble for the embattled governor. A Bronze Star recipient and former Rhodes Scholar, Greitens beat the incumbent state attorney by six percentage points in 2016 and was quickly hailed as a rising star in the Republican Party within and beyond his state. But his pugilistic outsider stance quickly soured in Jefferson City, and he has found himself with few allies as his troubles have mounted.
Every senior Republican officeholder in the state and Greitens’s top private donor called immediately for him to resign. A resolution to impeach sits on the Speaker’s desk awaiting action. Republicans in the House, meanwhile, are circulating a petition to convene a special session in late May to consider impeachment proceedings.