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Greitens Sex Scandal, Impeachment Talk Heats Up Jefferson City to Fever Pitch

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks at a news conference about allegations related to his extramarital affair with his hairdresser in Jefferson City, Mo., on April 11, 2018. (Julie Smith/The Jefferson City News-Tribune via AP)

A hairdresser from St. Louis is at the center of a political sex scandal in Missouri that she never wanted.

The woman who told investigators that Eric Greitens, before he was elected governor of Missouri, threatened her, coerced her, hit her and forced her to perform oral sex while she sobbed uncontrollably didn’t ask for the investigation. She never went to the police.

However, the woman also told the House committee investigating the charges against Greitens that she performed oral sex because she felt like it was the only way she’d get out of his basement.

“As to whether she consented to oral sex at that point, Witness 1 (the woman) testified, ‘It’s a hard question because I did it – it felt like consent, but, no, I didn’t want to do it.’ She further explained, ‘Coerced, maybe. I felt as though that would allow me to leave. That’s what he wanted – I felt that’s what he wanted….’” the committee’s report reads.

“Witness 1 then agreed with the statement that she ‘didn’t feel necessarily able to leave without performing oral sex.’ She further testified, ‘Looking back, yes’ she believed that saying no when she was bound and blind-folded extended to not consenting to further contact, but, ‘In the moment, I was so emotional’ and that one of the emotions was ‘definitely’ fear for her ‘physical self,’” the report also reads.

The report also noted Gov. Greitens (R) declined to testify before the committee.

“I can’t help but feel sorry for her,” Lisa Aronson Fontes, a senior lecturer at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an expert on sexual violence and coercive relationships, told the Associated Press. “The very least each of us would like to be able to do is to control intimate, personal and embarrassing information about ourselves.”

But Melinda Henneberger, a columnist for the Kansas City Star, wrote that the scandal is not going away. It could well cost Greitens, who was once seen as a Republican having a decent shot at the White House, his short-lived political career.

She wrote that very few in Jefferson City, whether GOP or Democrat, believe Greitens will complete his first term as governor of Missouri.

“Since the bipartisan Missouri House committee investigating him issued its holy-crap report last week … the only real argument in Jefferson City seems to be whether to start impeachment proceedings now, as Democrats prefer, or in a later special session, as his fellow Republicans want to do,” Henneberger wrote.

Greitens faces more than the damning state legislative committee report. He is scheduled to go on trial next month on a felony invasion of privacy charge involving photos of the hairdresser.

However, if Missouri legislators want to get rid of the ex-Navy SEAL, they are going to have to impeach Greitens and kick him out of Jefferson City. As PJM reported in February when the sex scandal broke, Greitens has refused to resign.

And, as of Friday, Greitens’ spokesman, Parker Briden, was telling reporters the scandal had not affected operations inside the governor’s office.

“Things have been busy recently, there’s no doubt about that, but the team here is used to a fast pace and working across multiple fronts,” Briden told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “(Gov. Greitens) has been meeting with the team here on opioids, tax policy, boards and commissions and state employee management reforms.”

“The governor and our office are pushing forward with important reforms and we’re working to get results for people,” Briden added.

With legislators returning to work Tuesday, that pace could get ratcheted up to a more intense level this week.

GOP House Speaker Todd Richardson is expected to circulate a petition among his fellow lawmakers calling for a special session later this spring to discuss what to do about Greitens along with “any and all” disciplinary options.

However, that’s not good enough for Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh (D), who said her caucus would be meeting next week to chart a plan of action. She also hinted that Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley had shown them the way when he said Greitens had committed impeachable offenses.

“The House Investigative Committee’s Report contains shocking, substantial, and corroborated evidence of wrongdoing by Governor Greitens,” Hawley said. “The conduct the Report details is certainly impeachable, in my judgment, and the House is well within its rights to proceed on that front.”

“I don’t think we need to wait for a special session. I don’t think we need to spend the taxpayers’ dollars on a special session,” Walsh said. “The top law enforcement agent in this state has said that there is cause for impeachment proceedings to begin, and I think we should listen to him.”

House Democrats in Jefferson City who said Friday they were considering a blockade on legislative work until the House pushes forward with impeachment proceedings.

That would mean work would stop on at least 35 bills, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, a Democrat from St. Louis, said the Senate should consider stopping all work because anything “short of a call for impeachment” would not be good enough.

“This is a point of no return,” Nasheed said.