Missouri Governor Eric Greitens talks with reporters after introducing a new program that will deal with the violence problem in St. Louis during a press conference in St. Louis on July 10, 2017.

Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

REARDON: Greitens Indictment Is Flimsy, Politically Motivated

"This is about a felony charge on a statute that in all likelihood has never been used to prosecute anyone in this manner."

Mark Reardon
February 23, 2018 - 2:52 pm

The collective media in Missouri are giddy with excitement right now. They don’t care at all for Governor Eric Greitens, and when news came down Thursday about a flimsy politically motivated indictment, there were high fives and celebrations in newsrooms across the state. Figuratively, not literally -- but rest assured, they’re thrilled.

The governor brought this on himself to a large extent by not cultivating a respectful transparent relationship with reporters -- and now he’ll pay for that with the coverage of this scandal will no doubt drag on for months.

As I’ve explained before, the governor and his wife are personal friends. Despite that, I’m not willing to give him a pass on his poor judgment and reckless behavior. But this isn’t about that -- this is about a felony charge on a statute that in all likelihood has never been used to prosecute anyone in this manner. This is a good time to remind folks that St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to charges filed by her office. She overreached on the Jason Stockley case, and for the most part anyone who knows anything about the law knew that. We also live in the one of the most violent cities in America, and you’d think the resources of her office might be better served focusing on the nearly daily slaughter of people in St. Louis.

Now she’s filed a charge that be extremely difficult to prove in front of a jury -- IF it ever gets to that point. If there’s no picture that Gardner and her office can produce, there is zero chance of an conviction. Let me give you a preview of some cross examination of the governor’s former mistress in what was a consensual relationship:

Governor’s lawyer -- “Can you explain to the court why after this alleged picture and threat were made why you returned to the scene of the “crime” that very afternoon for another sexual encounter?"

“Can you also explain why -- if threats were made that you thought were inappropriate -- that you continued in a sexual relationship with Eric for seven months?"

I’m not blaming the victim, IF there is a victim here. We don’t even know if the woman testified before the Grand Jury -- but we do know that up until this point she has preferred to stay silent on this issue. Did Kim Gardner file charges in this case without the commitment to cooperation by the unidentified woman? It’s not too difficult to see how a Grand Jury in the Democratic stronghold in the city of St. Louis would find enough cause for charges against a Republican Governor. Big shocker there.

Let me make one thing clear -- IF Greitens took a picture without consent and made threats about using that photo in the form of blackmail, it’s despicable. But that doesn’t make it a misdemeanor, let alone a felony based on an obscure statute that in another 25 days or so would have been past the statute of limitations. The Gardner investigation may result in additional charges -- I have no idea.

But let’s go back to the giddy reporters across the state. Will they ask relevant questions about the flimsy nature of these charges? Or will they continue to serve as the cheering section for downfall of a former GOP rising star?

I’m betting on the latter.