Missouri Governor Eric Greitens — once a rising Republican political star — resigned Tuesday amid expanding investigations of a sex scandal and potential violations of campaign finance laws.
It was a stunning fall from grace for the military veteran and Rhodes scholar once rumored to be considering an eventual run for the presidency.
The Midwestern US state’s legislature, controlled by the governor’s own party, was in the midst of a special session to consider whether Greitens should be impeached, when the governor announced his resignation would be effective Friday evening.
“This ordeal has been designed to cause an incredible amount of strain on my family,” said the defiant governor, who had repeatedly called the investigations against him a “witch hunt,” borrowing a favorite phrase of President Donald Trump.
I have not broken any laws or committed any offense worthy of this treatment,” he added at a brief news conference, at one point clearly holding back tears.
Greitens’s troubles had mushroomed over revelations of a 2015 extra-marital affair and charges, which he vehemently disputed, that he attempted to blackmail his mistress into silence with a compromising semi-nude photo.
The state legislature’s investigation had expanded to probe potential campaign finance violations, as questions swirled about whether the governor’s campaign illegally coordinated with a non-profit organization to conceal the identity of political donors.
The governor’s decision came after a judge compelled Greitens to release information about A New Missouri and any communications or coordination between the group and his own campaign fund, according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper.
A former Greitens campaign adviser also told a state House investigative committee that the campaign had considered soliciting donations from foreign nationals, according to the newspaper.