But Gardner said Greitens was unlikely to face prison time and that it was in the best interest of the city and state to move on.
“It’s time for all of us to come together,” Gardner said. “It’s time for us to heal the wounds of our city and our state.”
Her decision does not end the legal jeopardy facing Greitens, 44, who remains under scrutiny by a special prosecutor stemming from allegations that he initiated unwanted sexual contact with a woman who worked as his hairdresser. Greitens is accused of having photographed the woman naked without her consent.
Gardner said her announcement has no impact on the continuing investigation of that matter by Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, who was named special counsel after a felony-invasion-of-privacy charge originally sought by Gardner was dismissed.
In a brief and defiant statement Tuesday at the governor’s office, Greitens said his resignation would be effective on Friday at 5 p.m. “I am not perfect, but I have not broken any laws,” he said.
Under state law, Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, also a Republican, will take over as governor and serve out the remainder of the term.
Addressing reporters Wednesday, Gardner said she believes Greitens’s resignation was “best for our state” and pushed back strongly against his assertion that he was the victim of a “witch hunt.”
“There was no witch hunt, no plans to hunt him or to his family,” Gardner said.
“While I cannot force Mr. Greitens to take personal accountability for his actions, there are things I can do,” she said. “I can reject Mr. Greitens’s shameful personal attacks. I can reject his dangerous and false rhetoric about the criminal justice system and the rule of law. I can clarify for the public that there was no coordinated effort by anyone to target him based upon his politics.”
Elected to his first term in 2016, the 44-year-old Greitens was once seen as a rising star in the Republican Party who might one day run for national office. He had the kind of sterling credentials that make political operatives giddy: He is a former Navy SEAL who once worked with Mother Teresa.
Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.