CHICAGO — Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is calling on a fellow Republican governor, Missouri’s Eric Greitens, to step down in the wake of a sex scandal.
Rauner on Thursday said he was “deeply troubled” by allegations facing Greitens and said calls for the governor’s resignation seemed like a “reasonable request” after new details emerged this week from a woman with whom Greitens had an affair.
Greitens was indicted on Feb. 22 for felony invasion of privacy anddocuments made public this weekallege he used violence as part of the ongoing affair. He faces trial May 14.
Rauner’s resignation call is particularly stinging considering that for months Greitens was among a trio of neighboring Republican governors who appeared in a TV ad plugging Rauner’s reelection bid.
“I have to say I am deeply troubled by, now there has been an investigation and the investigation has brought forth some very disturbing, terrible behavior apparently,” said Rauner, after a bill-signing event. “Now Democrats, as well as Republicans in Missouri have called for the governor to step down in the best interest of Missourians, and that seems like a reasonable request.”
On Wednesday, Greitens sought to blunt the new allegations, and urged patience in the court process.
“This is nothing new. When I came into politics as an outsider, I was attacked with falsehoods every day,” Greitens said. “This is exactly what happens with witch hunts in Washington, D.C. Smearing, lying, attacking people who want to change how things are done is wrong in Washington, and it’s wrong in Missouri.”
Rauner’s remarks came after the Democratic Governors Association publicly pressured Rauner to renounce Greitens, releasing a statement today calling on him to take more firm action. The DGA criticized Rauner’s campaign for leaving up the ad featuring Greitens on Facebook and Twitter.
“As Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner should be a leader in condemning sexual assault,” said DGA Illinois spokesman Sam Salustro. “Three months ago, Bruce Rauner could have done the right thing and renounced Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, but he refused. Rauner stood by his political ally for as long as possible and never showed remorse for profiling him so prominently.”
Rauner, who faces an uphill reelection campaign, donated $100,000 to Greitens prior to the scandal. And both governors shared a key political operative — Nick Ayers, now Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff — as the chief strategist behind their campaigns. Ayers worked on Rauner’s behalf in 2014 and for Greitens in 2016.