ST. LOUIS — Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said Tuesday that his office had evidence of a probable felony related to a donor list for a charity founded by Gov. Eric Greitens, who remained defiant despite earlier accusations and widespread calls for his resignation.
Hawley said Tuesday that he turned over evidence on Greitens, a Republican, to the St. Louis circuit attorney. His actions come a week after lawmakers released a report saying Greitens initiated unwanted sexual contact with a woman who worked as his hairdresser, allegations that intensified calls for him to resign. The allegations in that report are related to an invasion-of-privacy charge that had been brought against Greitens by Kim Gardner, the St. Louis circuit attorney.
Hawley said Tuesday that he found evidence that Greitens, during his run for governor, had “obtained, transmitted and used” the donor list of his charity for the purpose of political fundraising without the organization’s knowledge.
“I do think this evidence would likely support the finding of probable cause that a crime was committed again,” Hawley said Tuesday in a news conference, adding that a crime would be grounds for impeachment as well.
Greitens blasted back at Hawley on Tuesday, saying he’s “better at press conferences than the law.”
“Anyone who has set foot in a Missouri courtroom knows these allegations are ridiculous,” Greitens said in a statement. “We will dispense with these false allegations.”
Greitens criticized Hawley for turning over evidence to Gardner. His legal team has attempted to tie Gardner to liberal mega-donor George Soros, in addition to accusing her of withholding evidence and suborning perjury.
The circuit attorney’s office declined to comment Tuesday.
Hawley on Tuesday said that the evidence turned over to Gardner and a state House investigative committee points specifically to felony conduct by Greitens himself. He had sought court approval to give them the evidence because of a looming statute-of-limitations deadline.
Greitens, once considered a rising GOP star, has already been largely abandoned by his party in the state. The full Republican leadership in both the state House and Senate called on Greitens to resign last week after the special House committee released its report, which included detailed testimony from a woman they deemed a “credible witness.” 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 that she felt “coerced, maybe,” to perform oral sex on him.
When the House convened Tuesday afternoon, Democrats insisted the chamber should not debate legislation until addressing its constitutional duty to pursue impeachment proceedings. Republicans dismissed the governor’s troubles as a distraction from considering a comprehensive tax bill.
In addition to members of the legislature, calls for Greitens’s resignation came from one of his top donors as well as Hawley, who is running for the Republican nomination to face Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in November in the race for her seat.
Greitens has admitted to an extramarital affair but denied wrongdoing and said a trial on the invasion-of-privacy charge, scheduled for next month, would exonerate him. Last week, after the report was released, he said he was the target of a “witch hunt.”