Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens resigned Tuesday, shortly after a judge ordered him to turn over documents to the Missouri House committee currently investigating campaign finance allegations against the governor.
Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem on Tuesday ordered Greitens’ nonprofit, A New Missouri Inc., to turn over documents and communications in an investigation into whether the organization coordinated with the governor and his campaign committee.
“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,” Greitens said at a press conference announcing the resignation. “This ordeal has been designed to cause an incredible amount of strain on my family, millions of dollars in mounting legal bills, [and] endless mounting attacks designed to cause maximum damage to family and friends.”
“I have not broken any laws or committed any offense worthy of this treatment,” Greitens insisted.
In a statement following Greitens’ announcement, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said she had “reached a fair and just resolution of the pending charges” with the governor’s defense team, and would announce further details on Wednesday.
Greitens’ announcement Tuesday, which becomes effective on June 1 at 5 p.m., comes just weeks after the release of a detailed legislative report in which his former mistress accused him of coercing her into sex and slapping her.
The Republican governor had for weeks pledged to remain in office despite those allegations, defying bipartisan calls for him to resign and saying that he was the target of a “political witch hunt.”
The report was released on April 11 by a special investigative committee of the Republican-controlled Missouri House, evidence that Greitens’ relationship with his own party had frayed amid the scandal surrounding the affair. It included the anonymous testimony of his former hairdresser, who said their encounters were not always consensual and that at times Greitens spanked, grabbed her and called her profane names during sex.
Just before the release of the report, Greitens said the relationship, which went on for several months, was entirely consensual and that the allegations, given under oath, were “tabloid trash” and “gossip.”
“The accusations published in the House Committee’s report will be directly contradicted by the facts that emerge in court,” Greitens said in a statement after the release. “A court of law and a jury of my peers will let every person in Missouri know the truth and prove my innocence.”
Greitens, who is married and has two children, had faced the prospect of a criminal trial after being indicted on a charge of felony invasion of privacy. He was accused of taking photos of his mistress without her consent and then using the images to threaten her.
The felony charge was later dropped due to the possibility that the prosecutor could be called as a witness herself. But Greitens still faces a second felony charge for computer data tampering, after allegedly using his nonprofit to obtain a fundraising list for use by his campaign.
Despite his denials, the report prompted members of his own party to call for his resignation, and The New York Times noted that many have worried the ongoing coverage of the scandal could hurt the party’s chances during the midterm elections.
Democrats had urged fellow lawmakers to launch impeachment proceedings against Greitens were he to remain in office. Even the state’s Republican attorney general, Josh Hawley, said such conduct was “certainly impeachable.”
“The people of Missouri should not be put through that ordeal,” Hawley, who is running for the Senate against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill, said at the time. “Governor Greitens should resign immediately.”
This article has been updated to include a statement from St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.