Eric Greitens said his resignation would take effect on Friday. Photograph: Jeff Roberson/AP
Missouri’s governor and Republican rising star Eric Greitens abruptly announced his resignation on Tuesday, after a scandal involving an extramarital affair with his former hairdresser that led to a broader investigation by prosecutors and state legislators.
The 44-year-old governor, known as a brash outsider whose resume as a Rhodes Scholar and Navy Seal officer made him stand out in the party, made the announcement nearly 17 months after taking the oath as Missouri’s state chief executive with a pledge to root out “corrupt career politicians”. The investigations of him widened to include questions about whether he had violated the law in financing his campaign.
Greitens said his resignation would take effect on Friday.
A St Louis grand jury indicted Greitens on 22 February 22 on one felony count of invasion of privacy for allegedly taking a photo of the woman in question without her consent, at his home in 2015, before he was elected governor. The charge was dismissed during jury selection, but a special prosecutor was considering whether to refile charges.
In April, the local St Louis prosecutor’s office charged Greitens with another felony, alleging that he improperly used the donor list for a charity that he’d founded to raise money for his 2016 campaign.
Less than two weeks ago, the Missouri state legislature began meeting in special session to consider whether to pursue impeachment proceedings to try to oust Greitens from office.
The woman involved had already told a Missouri House investigative committee that Greitens restrained, slapped, shoved and threatened her during a series of sexual encounters that at times left her crying and afraid.
Greitens said the allegations amounted to a “political witch hunt” and vowed to stay in office. But ultimately both Republicans and Democrats were calling for his resignation.