As with most politicians, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens should be judged on what he actually does, not what he says he will do.
Example #1: Greitens is a huge hypocrite on ethics reform.
He has often publicly urged members of the General Assembly to pass new — and badly needed — rules that would ban lobbyist gifts to elected officials. Other changes also are need to reform behavior in Jefferson City’s all-too-loose culture.
Yet day after day, week after week early in his term, Greitens has refused to reveal the sources of millions of dollars in total funding for his campaign, his inauguration, his airplane flights and, most recently, a group affiliated with his agenda called A New Missouri. (Full disclosure: I donated $5 cash last week but have yet to receive any known benefits from that action.)
Democrats and some Republicans are rightly furious with the duplicity of Greitens.
“I was in favor of disclosure of dark money before this governor even knew he wanted to be governor,” said state Sen. Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican. “Just because he’s a member of my party doesn’t change my position.”
Greitens is all too happy giving lawmakers a black eye — which they do deserve for going years without passing ethics reforms — while not revealing who’s financially making it possible for him to win office, fly around the state and promote his agenda.
Until he comes clean himself, Greitens will look like a hypocrite to House and Senate members. And that may give enough of them a convenient excuse to pull the plug on ethics reform in 2017.
That’s extremely unfortunate. But it’s also how the ugly world of politics can work in the state capital.
Example #2: The governor took progressive action recently with his decision to grant paid family leave to executive branch workers after a birth or adoption.
Greitens thus fulfilled one of his earlier statements that he wanted to do something positive for Missouri state employees, reportedly the worst paid in the nation.
Of course, Greitens could have done more by actually handing out decent wage increases to the workers. But that won’t happen because of the state’s budget woes.
There are 45,000 workers in agencies under the executive branch, but only a limited number will be having or adopting children in the coming years. Still, Greitens’ action was one way to get kudos from critics.
Now, if the governor wants even stronger and more deserved attaboys, he should show real leadership on ethics reform in Missouri. His current actions are shameful.