St. Louis Grand Jury Indicts Governor Greitens on Felony Invasion of Privacy
· Thursday afternoon, local deputies escorted Greitens from the courthouse to the St. Louis Justice Center, where he was booked on the Class D felony count.
· The indictment means that the Grand Jury found probable cause to believe the Governor photographed a fully or partially nude woman without her knowledge and consent. The charge also states Greitens transmitted the image in a way that allows access to the image via a computer.
· While the Missouri GOP issued statements supporting Greitens’s innocence, House leaders announced they’re launching their own investigation into the charges. If the House finds them credible, impeachment proceedings could follow.
· Greitens’s attorney, Edward Dowd Jr. (of Dowd Bennett), decried the indictment as a politically motivated attack, insisting the governor has not committed a crime. This week, Dowd Bennett added a former circuit judge to Greitens’s defense team and hired a GOP lobbyist to represent them in Jefferson City.
· The aftermath of Greitens’ affair has clouded the Capitol since January, raising further questions about the governor’s ability to work with state lawmakers, who likely resent his campaign pledge to reform Missouri politics. Rep. Gina Mitten, (D-St. Louis), stated “The whole situation is very sad,… There’s nothing joyous in any of this."
National Issues At Play in Missouri
From gun control to the #MeToo movement, these and other timely topics filled this week’s Missouri news.
Higher Education and CHIP Funding
House budget chairman Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick plans to use funds set aside in 2016 for the CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) program to restore some of the $68 million cuts for higher education recommended in Governor Greitens’s proposed 2019 budget.
Two committees in the Missouri House approved HB 1558, the so-called Revenge Porn bill, that would make sharing “nonconsensual private sexual images” a Class D felony. Rep. Jim Neely (R-Cameron/Lawson), the bill’s sponsor, added an amendment outlawing threats to distribute such images. Current privacy law makes taking this type of a photo a misdemeanor.
· Internet service providers are not automatically liable for images unknowingly shared on their networks or servers.
· The House must vote again on the bill before sending it to the Senate.
· Lawmakers noted the issues addressed in this bill are not applicable to the case pending against Gov. Greitens.
· Nationally, 38 states and the District of Columbia have passed similar legislation.
House Votes to Raise Minimum Marriage Age Despite Opposition
In a 95 - 50 vote, the Missouri House approved Rep. Jean Evans’ HB 1630, to raise the minimum age for marriage to 17 years old. The previous minimum age was 15 years old. Considered an attempt to protect teens from sex trafficking, the new law also prohibits marriage between a minor and an adult over the age of 21.
· Opponents of the legislation view it as unwanted government overreach and said it “plainly usurps parental rights.”
· Evans and others countered with reasons to support the legislation. Rep. Judy Morgan gave an example of a pregnant 15-year-old girl from Idaho brought to Missouri by her father to marry her convicted rapist. Evan cited the popularity of minor marriage licenses issued in Missouri to people from out-of-state.
And In “Better News” OR: And For Some Levity:
Chillicothe (population 9,500) received additional notoriety for its “Home of Sliced Bread” claim to fame. The Missouri House passed a bill Wednesday making July 7 “Missouri Sliced Bread Day.”
· Sponsored by Rep. Rusty Black, the bill recognizes the town’s stake in a store staple, sliced bread.
· The first bags of sliced bread were sold on July 7, 1928, at Marion Bench’s local bakery. Bench used Iowa inventor Otto Frederick Rohwedder’s bread slicer to package his new baked goods. And, the rest, as they say, was history.
· For more details on the historic significance of Chillicothe and Rohwedder’s invention, see www.daily-journal.com/news/nation/home-of-sliced-bread/article_5895caa0-d7be-596e-a120-bbaa15dad029.html.