Washington (CNN)Missouri's top Republican legislators are calling for GOP Gov. Eric Greitens to step down from office following an accusation that he obtained a charity donor list without permission, the latest controversy to embroil Greitens, who has also been accused of sexual abuse.
Missouri's top Republicans join calls for Greitens to step down
House Speaker Todd Richardson, House Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr and House Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo said the "right thing" for Greitens to do now is to resign from office.
"Leaders at all levels of government are entrusted with an incredible responsibility to the Missourians we represent. When leaders lose the ability to effectively lead our state, the right thing to do is step aside," the three House leaders said in a joint statement issued Tuesday.
The mounting pressure for Greitens to step down or for the impeachment process to start came hours after Attorney General Josh Hawley announced his office had uncovered evidence of alleged criminal "wrongdoing" by Greitens related to his veterans charity, The Mission Continues. Greitens has also been charged in St. Louis with first-degree felony invasion of privacy in connection to an extramarital affair he had in 2015. Greitens has pleaded not guilty.
"In our view, the time has come for the governor to resign," the three said, though they stopped short of calling for his impeachment.
Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, who is also a Republican, went further in a statement Tuesday, arguing that "we have reached a critical turning point in the allegations" and that Greitens has "no other respectable option than to resign from office."
"We are past the point of concerning and alarming. Since his time in office, the governor has caused tension, conflict and hostility. The weight of his actions are being felt throughout the state. Now, these alleged illegal actions are further harmful to the people of Missouri and do not represent Missouri values. It's time for the governor to find the courage in his heart and do what is in the best interests of the people he serves and step aside."
He added, "Because of the severity of the allegations, it is my wish that we immediately start impeachment proceedings."
Greitens countered Tuesday night, saying he will not be resigning from office.
"In three weeks, this matter will go to a court of law -- where it belongs and where the facts will prove my innocence. Until then, I will do what the people of Missouri sent me here to do: to serve them and work hard on their behalf," Greitens responded on Twitter.
Hawley said Tuesday that they've obtained evidence that Greitens used an electronic donor list from the charity, without permission, for "political fundraising" for his 2016 campaign. The attorney general said the decision whether to charge Greitens rests with St. Louis circuit attorney Kim Gardner, whose office confirmed it is reviewing the evidence but declined further comment to CNN Tuesday.
Following's Hawley's news conference, Greitens' attorney said in a statement there is "nothing close to wrongdoing."
Greitens was also indicted in February amid allegations of sexual misconduct and blackmail, which he denies, following an admission of an extramarital affair. The indictment alleges that Greitens took a "full or partially nude" photo without consent and transmitted the photo. His trial is set for next month.
A Missouri House committee also released a report last week, graphically detailing allegations that Greitens engaged in non-consensual sexual activity and violence against the woman with whom he had the affair.
Hawley, a Republican candidate for US Senate, had called for Greitens to resign in the wake of the report.
Greitens said in a statement last week that the affair was an "entirely consensual relationship, and any allegation of violence or sexual assault is false."
Tuesday night, the House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, a Democrat, filed a resolution that would authorize a House special investigative oversight committee to introduce articles of impeachment.