Our Solemn Duty

“I believe in ethics, and I believe that our leaders should do not only what is legal, but what is right and honorable.” That’s what Gov. Greitens told Missourians as a candidate – and it is what I believe to be true about those who take the solemn oath to represent the people of this state.

Last week, Gov. Greitens admitted that he had an affair prior to taking office. These acts alone are inarguably wrong and dishonorable. That is not a judgment of permanent condemnation against any person who commits such an act. After all, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” On a personal level, a person who does these things must get right with themselves, their families, and God.

But we must demand more from our leaders. Three years ago, we did just that in the Missouri House when we learned that Speaker John Diehl admitted to inappropriate communications with an intern. Within hours of the story breaking, there was a push to hold Speaker Diehl accountable. To his credit, Speaker Diehl made the right and honorable decision to resign the next afternoon.

Some people have compared the stories of Gov. Greitens to Speaker Diehl, but they are much different. Speaker Diehl faced official consequences even if he committed no crime or had any sexual activity in the case. The process and consequences of an action against a sitting Speaker of the House are contained within a single body of government. There are no questions of due process or separation of powers.

Many are calling on the legislature to act immediately with respect to Governor Greitens because of outrage over what he has admitted and the allegations attached to it. However, the process of holding accountable an official in a separate branch of government is more serious and complicated. It requires more deliberation than a single night or week.   

This moment is bigger than this particular governor and this particular legislature. It is not a time for bombast or demagoguery, but to uphold the rule of law and the legislature’s role in our system of government.  I believe it is a test of the strength of our state government – and pledge to proceed with the seriousness of purpose that the moment requires.