This site has previously discussed the Missouri law applicable to impeachment of governors and its application to the sex scandal swirling around Gov. Eric Greitens. We have previously noted that state officials are impeachable for virtually any misconduct violative of state law, including criminal misdemeanors. We have observed that the offense Mr. Greitens seems most likely to have committed (if the publicly reported information proves accurate) is invasion of privacy, RSMo 565.252.
Mr. Greitens would be guilty of this crime if he took a picture, without the consent of the woman with whom he was having a sexual interlude, while she was fully or partially unclothed. Mr. Greitens would be guilty of the more serious felony offense of tampering with physical evidence, RSMo 575.100, if he took such a picture and later, “Alter[ed], destroy[ed], suppresse[d] or conceal[ed the photo] with purpose to impair its verity, legibility or availability in any official proceeding or investigation.”
The question of whether such a picture was ever taken, and if so what happened to it, has become a running theme in Mr. Greitens’ interactions with his critics and with members of the press. Several days ago, for example, a reporter for the St. Louis Post Dispatch asked Mr. Greitens directly whether he had taken a photo of his former mistress. Mr. Greitens declined to answer, claiming that he had answered questions about the matter before. However, Mr. Greitens has never denied taking such a picture, despite having had multiple opportunities to do so. In his most extensive previous statement, Mr. Greitens said:
“This was a consensual relationship. There was no blackmail, there was no violence, there was no threat of violence, there was no threat of blackmail, there was no threat of using a photograph for blackmail. All of those things are false.”
Note that he denies “using a photograph for blackmail,” not taking a photograph in the first place. It’s a curious circumlocution. If no photograph was taken, why not say so plainly, and as Ephesians 6:14 puts it: “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place”?
Indeed, even if one’s belt of truth had of late come unbuckled, it would make sense to deny that a photograph was ever taken … unless, of course, there really was a photograph and one feared that evidence of its existence might surface.
It may prove that Mr. Greitens was simply inartful in his original statements about this matter, and is now simply being unwisely stubborn in his refusal to amplify on an undoubtedly painful subject. Still, if Mr. Greitens neither took nor destroyed an incriminating photograph, he ought to say so in plain terms and put the matter to rest. So long as he evades these questions, a cloud of suspicion rather larger than a man’s hand will hang over his office and unnecessarily complicate the state’s affairs.