Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican, is under criminal investigation after a report Wednesday accused him of blackmailing an extramarital lover with revenge porn three years ago. Greitens has admitted to the affair, but denied the allegations of blackmail.
To save his skin, Greitens is making use of his gubernatorial appointment power to silence his enemies.
It’s a tactic he’s already used to great effect.
Earlier this month, the governor appointed state Sen. Ryan Silvey, one of his most vocal intraparty critics in the Missouri General Assembly, to the Public Service Commission. To assume the role, and the large pay increase it offers, Silvey had to vacate his post in the Senate, meaning he could no longer oppose the governor’s agenda in the legislature’s upper chamber.
The seat has sat empty since the part-time legislature gaveled-in to session January 3.
Now, Greitens is seeking to influence a different body: the St. Louis prosecuting office that is currently investigating him. On Friday, the governor appointed Annette Llewellyn, an assistant in the office of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, to a vacant circuit court judgeship. Gardner is currently conducting a criminal probe of the governor’s alleged 2015 blackmail.
As the Springfield News-Leader reports:
A spokeswoman for Gardner said Llewellyn was “absolutely not involved” with Thursday’s announcement. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in November that Llewellyn, a former public defender, was hired by Gardner’s office in January and that she was to “prosecute criminal cases” as part of her role as head of diversionary programs.
The judicial appointment by Greitens, a Republican, comes the day after Gardner, a Democrat, announced that she was investigating blackmail allegations against the governor, whose attorney has called those allegations false. Greitens’ admission to an extramarital affair and denial of the blackmail allegations following St. Louis television station KMOV’s report late Wednesday night has roiled Missouri’s political spheres.
The governor’s strongman tactics have no place in a properly functioning democracy. His blatant disregard for the rule of law has already gotten him on the wrong side of the attorney general’s office, another entity investigating him for an entirely unrelated matter concerning government transparency, as well as the state’s education community, which takes umbrage with the governor’s questionable ousting of the well-loved education commissioner in December.
The latter episode, specifically, has already hurt the Missouri community in direct fashion. Because the governor refuses to nominate acceptable appointees, the Missouri Senate has so far refused to confirm his current selections, leaving the education board without a quorum.
In effect, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education cannot make any major decisions until the issue is resolved — including hiring a new education commissioner. Missouri children are being held as political hostages so the governor can further the agenda of his wealthy, and often anonymous, political donors.
Meanwhile, Greitens touts his “family man” bona fides to present a carefully cultivated image to gullible voters, while eschewing and demeaning the state press corps to a degree unheard of in modern Missouri politics.
Mr. Greitens, you are despicable. You ran on a campaign of cleaning up the corruption of career politicians in Jefferson City, but now you’ve become something far worse: a failed tyrant.
You won’t get away with this subversion of the laws you swore to uphold. The good people of Missouri won’t let you. ■