Members of the Missouri Legislature have acted to schedule a special session for the first time in the state's history, with the purpose of considering disciplinary actions against their governor. If the result ends with impeachment, it would be another first for the "Show-Me" state.
Republicans run the House and Senate in Missouri, making the move noteworthy as many members have called for the resignation of GOP Gov. Eric Greitens.
Greitens is in the midst of three investigations, facing two felony counts: one for the alleged blackmail of a former mistress, and another for the alleged use of his former nonprofit's donor list for campaign solicitations.
Separate probes into the governor's actions are currently being conducted by the office of the state's Attorney General, a House committee, and a St. Louis Circuit attorney.
Proceedings are scheduled to commence on May 18, now that the General Assembly has collected (and surpassed) the required three-quarters of the signatures needed from members to call the special session. In the past, special sessions have only been called by the governor.
In announcing the decision to call the special session, Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson said, "This path is not the one that I would have chosen for Missourians or my colleagues. I have hoped from the beginning of this process that the committee would find no wrongdoing so we could bring this issue to a close...unfortunately, this is where the facts led."
He added, "We will not avoid doing what is right just because it is hard. Just because it is not the path we hoped to travel."
Referring to the seriousness of the situation, Richardson said, "The process has monumental consequences, and the gravity of what we are commencing is not taken lightly."
Gov. Greitens, a former Navy SEAL and Rhodes Scholar, (while admitting to infidelity) has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing and adamantly refused to resign. But the salacious accusations against him regarding his widely exposed affair have led to the creation of a buzz-phrase in Missouri: "Fifty shades of Greitens."
The distraction has been too much for Missouri legislators. Democrats were predictably repulsed by allegations facing the embroiled governor, and Greitens found few friends among his own party after he ran post-election ads calling Jefferson City lawmakers "corrupt."
A registered Democrat just a few years ago, Greitens has emulated himself after President Donald Trump — a drain-the-swamp, hard-charging conservative outsider. But as he has endorsed his administration's accomplishments on social media since the news of the affair scandal, voters have been largely unforgiving.
In a post last fall where Greitens promoted a reform initiative for foster children, he proclaims that "This is who we were sent here to fight for: the vulnerable, the forgotten, the people who got a raw deal while the powerful get their way."
A commenter responded: "The vulnerable? You secretly take embarrassing photos of a woman and then threaten to blackmail her? What a load of crap and what a hypocrite you are."