The phrase "right and wrong" is reverberating through every inch of the Capital.
My usual task is to weigh in on legislation and determine via the hearing and testimony process if a bill is good for Missouri, and often if proposals are "right or wrong". I've talked quite a bit with 4th graders about this concept as they study state government and often think of their discussions when facing tough votes on the House floor.
But in the last few days, determining "right and wrong" hasn't been about policy, but instead about ethics, behavior and a potential investigation of Governor Greitens.
I've had to consider the responsibilities of being a potential mandatory reporter and the "right and wrong" of protecting/intervening. When does scandalous information become necessary public knowledge and when is it "right" to protect those who have not given consent, particulary when alleged abuse or criminal acts may be involved?
The answers aren't in any legislative handbook and are not easy.
I applaud St. Louis Public Radio and other media outlets in the past few days who have carefully considered their journalistic ethics, integrity and responsibility to the public. This is an important read and has helped me: "Editor's note: Scandals may be fun, but they aren't always journalism".
As someone who cares deeply about gender issues and close to the "MeToo" and "TimesUp" movement of those revealing painful stories of harassment and abuse, I'm aware of the danger of re-victimization, particularly when consent to go public has not been given. Victims of bullying and blackmail don't usually have resources at the ready for legal protection or knowledge how to navigate a sudden media storm of publicity. When are they in charge of their own story? Is it "right or wrong" for a media outlet to go undercover to obtain someone's story? Is it "right or wrong" to publish or record or photograph without consent?
Listen to this podcast as St. Louis Post Dispatch journalists debate their own ethics, knowledge and complicated pursuit of what is truth---HERE.
The Missouri legislature may be involved in determining "right and wrong" if the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's formal investigation of Gov. Greitens concludes that further actions be taken. Myself and other electeds have asked for this investigation after the story hit late Wednesday evening.
I know that many policies Governor Greitens has advanced in the past year are completely wrong. I know full well that his special session costing taxpayers substantial money to further interfere in constitutionally protected medical procedures was wrong. Repealing the St. Louis minimum wage law was wrong, as was cutting seniors from state home care assistance. Hurting people for corporate and political gain is wrong. Being non-transparent, harassing legislators and soliciting dark money is wrong. The list is growing (a good one HERE) and all to me are flat out "wrong".
And now we are faced with ethical decisions in the coming days - not about an affair to which Gov. Greitens has publicly admitted, but if criminal extortion and coercion was involved. If so, what is our legislative responsibility?
Never ending serious business in the Capital...what is right and what is wrong."