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Missouri Legislature to hold special session on Gov. Eric Greitens' impeachment

The May 18 session will be the first in the state's history.
Image: Eric Greitens
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks at a news conference in Jefferson City last month about allegations related to an extramarital affair.Julie Smith / Jefferson City News-Tribune via AP file

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Legislature will call itself into a special session to consider impeaching Gov. Eric Greitens following allegations of sexual misconduct and misuse of charity resources, legislative leaders said Thursday night.

House and Senate leaders announced Thursday night that they had gathered petition signatures from more than three-fourths of all lawmakers in each chamber, which is the threshold required in the state constitution.

The special session will start at 6:30 p.m. May 18 — just 30 minutes after the regular session ends. It will mark the first time in Missouri history that a Legislature has called itself into a special session.

It comes as Greitens is facing two felony charges — one related to a 2015 extramarital affair and the other to his use of a charity donor list for his political campaign.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison turned down a request from a lawyer for several media outlets that requested that they be allowed to take video cameras into the courtroom when Greitens goes to trial, citing security concerns among his reasons.

"We have the governor of the state of Missouri who will be in this courtroom, which carries an additional security risk," Burlison said. He has previously allowed video cameras for civil trials, but said he was more reluctant to do so in a criminal case.

Greitens, a Republican, faces trial May 14 on a charge of invasion of privacy stemming from an extramarital affair in 2015, before he was elected. He is accused of taking a partially nude and unauthorized photo of the woman while she was bound and blindfolded in the basement of his home. The woman, who hasn't been publicly identified, opposed allowing video cameras at the trial, a fact the judge also cited.

Greitens was indicted on the invasion of privacy charge in February. Last month, he was charged in St. Louis with a second, unrelated crime of computer tampering for allegedly obtaining a donor list from the veterans charity he founded, the Mission Continues, and using it for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign.

Greitens has admitted to the affair but denied criminal wrongdoing, saying he's the victim of a "political witch hunt."

He's also the subject of an investigation by a special House committee whose report in April included testimony from the woman involved in the affair. She said Greitens coerced her into sex acts and was at times violent. The report led to widespread calls for Greitens' resignation or impeachment.

The same panel released a report Wednesday indicating that Greitens used the donor list for his political campaign and then filed an Ethics Commission document falsely attributing its source to a campaign aide.

Meanwhile on Thursday, Scott Faughn, publisher of The Missouri Times, a political newspaper, said in a column that he used his own money to buy audiotapes made by the ex-husband of the woman involved in the affair and that he intended to use them to write a book.

Faughn wrote that he bought the recordings from the law firm of Al Watkins, the attorney for the ex-husband, who secretly recorded his wife's discussing the affair.

Watkins told reporters last week that he received two anonymous $50,000 payments in January and deduced that they were to pay the ex-husband's legal fees. Watkins declined to comment Thursday. Faughn didn't immediately respond to questions about whether he provided $50,000 or the entire $100,000.