Despite misgivings from some of the region's law enforcement officials, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens delivered the keynote address this morning at the St. Louis Area Police Chiefs Association prayer breakfast, a somber annual event dedicated to memorializing officers slain in the line of duty.
Greitens has been charged with two felonies related to two different matters in recent months. But his speech did not hint at his current troubles, the most recent being a criminal complaint connected to his allegedly improper use of a donor list
acquired from the non-profit he'd founded before becoming governor. Unlike other recent statements, the governor even managed to refrain from blasting the "liberal media" or referencing George Soros.
Greitens spoke personally about his experiences comforting the families of killed officers, and he vowed that Missouri would continue support law enforcement during the "hardest moments."
"Those who gave their lives did their duty," Greitens said, "and now we have a duty to continue to support them."
The governor, of course, is also facing a felony charge for invasion of privacy, and that accusation carries the weight of a report released earlier this month by the Missouri House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight, which details an allegedly degrading, non-consensual encounter
between Greitens and a St. Louis hairdresser.
While Greitens' pending criminal cases did not draw mention during the prayer breakfast, police officials did discuss the matter behind the scenes. Emails obtained this week by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
showed Ed Magee, spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch, airing concerns about the governor's appearance.
In a March 26 email, Magee cautioned, "Chiefs, are you sure you want a guy currently charged with a felony as your guest speaker? That will not be good press wise."
The chiefs apparently didn't have a problem with it, and during the event itself, the only hint of the governor's strained status came from emcee Joe Buck, who chided the local media for skipping the event in previous years.
"These days when the governor goes anywhere, there are members of the media following close behind," Buck said, looking directly at a KSDK camera live-streaming the speech
. "They are here today in the back. And I would say to anybody with a camera or a microphone, 'Where have you been?'"
Buck's remark to the audience of police chiefs was met with applause.
Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com
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