Outgoing Mo. Governor Signs Revenge Porn Law

  • A moving van is seen parked outside the governor's mansion in Jefferson City, Mo., Friday, June 1, 2018. Republican Gov. Eric Greitens is resigning Friday afternoon and Republican Lt. Gov. Mike Parson is to be sworn in shortly thereafter in the governor's office. Greitens' resignation is part of a deal with a St. Louis prosecutor to drop a felony charge alleging misuse of a charity donor list to raise money for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign. (AP Photo/Blake Nelson) Blake Nelson

  • FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2017, file photo, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, left, talks to Lt. Gov. Mike Parson during the Governor's Ham Breakfast at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, Mo. Greitens abruptly announced his resignation Tuesday, May 29, 2018, after a scandal involving an affair with his former hairdresser led to a broader investigation by prosecutors and state legislators. The resignation takes effect Friday. His departure elevates fellow Republican Parson to the governor's office. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File) Charlie Riedel

  • Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens reads from a prepared statement as he announces his resignation during a news conference, Tuesday, May 29, 2018, at the state Capitol, in Jefferson City, Mo. Greitens resigned amid a widening investigation that arose from an affair with his former hairdresser. Greitens said his resignation would take effect Friday. (Julie Smith/The Jefferson City News-Tribune via AP) Julie Smith

  • FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2017 file photo, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens gives his inaugural address from the steps of the capitol in Jefferson City, Mo. Greitens, a sometimes brash outsider whose unconventional resume as a Rhodes Scholar and Navy SEAL officer made him a rising star in Republican politics, abruptly announced his resignation Tuesday, May 29, 2018, after a scandal involving an affair with his former hairdresser led to a broader investigation by prosecutors and state legislators. The resignation takes effect Friday. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner File) Orlin Wagner

Associated Press
Published: 6/1/2018 11:19:22 PM
Modified: 6/2/2018 12:02:32 AM

Jefferson City, Mo. — Just hours before he left office Friday, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens signed scores of new laws, including a measure that makes it a crime to try to threaten a person using a private sexual image — the same allegation that led to his downfall.

In the flurry of last-minute activity, the scandal-plagued governor approved 77 new laws, granted several pardons and commutations and won at least a temporary reprieve in a court battle over campaign records. He posted a long Facebook message touting his accomplishments — without any mention of why he was quitting — and quietly left Capitol about an hour before his resignation took effect.

His departure cleared the way for fellow Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, who was sworn in a short time later.

The “revenge porn” law creates a felony that will apply to cases when someone threatens the nonconsensual dissemination of a private sexual image by coercing another person to refrain from an action.

The governor has been accused of taking a nonconsensual photo of a partially nude woman with whom he had an affair in 2015 and warning her he would distribute it if she ever spoke of their encounter.

He has acknowledged having the affair but denied criminal wrongdoing and refused to directly answer questions about whether he took the photo.

Greitens cannot be charged under the new law because it was not in effect at the time. But a special prosecutor is still weighing whether to refile an invasion-of-privacy charge against Greitens under a different law.

In a news release announcing the bill signings, he touted bills such as a corporate income tax cut and changes to the state foster care system. Later, he announced he had pardoned five people and commuted the sentences of four others, including several whom he said had been wrongfully convicted of murder.

Greitens has similarly insisted that he has done nothing worthy of being forced out of office.

“The ability to make wrong things right, for Missourians who have not gotten fair treatment from our criminal justice system, is one of the most solemn and precious abilities of a Governor,” Greitens said in a written statement announcing the clemency actions.

His resignation is part of a deal with a St. Louis prosecutor to drop a felony charge alleging misuse of a charity donor list to raise money for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign. His voluntary departure also avoids the potentially dubious distinction of becoming the first Missouri governor to be impeached by the House.

Parson said he wants to assure people “that everything’s fine and government is going to go forward.”

His job now, he told St. Louis radio station KMOX, is to “work hard and make sure I’m prepared and do the best I can to make this transfer of power as smooth as possible.”

Though he’s leaving, Greitens isn’t entirely clear of legal problems.

The Missouri Ethics Commission continues to investigate a complaint that Greitens’ campaign filed false documents about the charity donor list. The FBI also has received information about Greitens from the chairman of a House investigatory panel and a private attorney representing the ex-husband of the woman with whom he had an affair.

On Friday, a judge granted a request from an attorney for Greitens’ campaign and a pro-Greitens nonprofit called A New Missouri to delay compliance with a Friday deadline to provide records subpoenaed by a House investigatory committee. A hearing on whether to rescind the order isn’t expected before next week.

In a separate case, the judge ordered Greitens to supply by Friday the names of all governor’s office employees who downloaded a smartphone app called Confide that automatically deletes messages. The order also directs Greitens to provide phone numbers and other details about the devices, which would allow the plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging violations of the state records-retention law to request information from Confide.

The 44-year-old Greitens is a former Navy SEAL officer who won election in 2016 as a political outsider pledging to take on “career politicians” and crack down on perceived corruption in Jefferson City.

Parson, 62, who was elected separately from Greitens, is an Army veteran who built a career as a law officer and lawmaker. He spent 12 years as the rural Polk County sheriff before serving another dozen years in the Missouri House and Senate. He is also a cattle farmer and was moving his animals when he got the call Tuesday that Greitens was resigning.

“In my career, I’ve had the opportunities to handle tough situations,” Parson said. “At least I have the experience to draw on and frankly the wisdom to draw on.”

Parson kept a low profile as scandals grew around the governor following the January revelation that Greitens had engaged in an affair in which a woman alleged he restrained, slapped, shoved and belittled her.

As the governor denied any violence, Parson shied away from joining some other top Republicans who called on Greitens to resign. Instead, Parson emphasized the need for unity.

He will serve the remainder of Greitens’ term, which runs until January 2021.

___

Associated Press writers Summer Ballentine and Blake Nelson contributed to this report.




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