Missouri governor’s job at risk over extramarital affair, allegations of blackmail

Missouri governor’s job at risk over extramarital affair, allegations of blackmail
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens admitted to an extramarital affair, and is accused of blackmailing the woman to keep her quiet about it. (Craig Barritt/Getty Images for The Robin Hood Foundation)

Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens admitted to an extramarital affair Wednesday after a local news station reported the allegations, and now Greitens could be in “serious” danger of losing his job.

What the report said:

KMOV News 4 in St. Louis obtained a recording in which a woman says she was blackmailed by Greitens to keep quiet after a sexual encounter.

The recording is a conversation between the woman and her former husband, who secretly recorded the conversation as he pushed her to confess to the affair.

The details:

  • The affair took place in March 2015, before Greitens was elected governor.
  • The woman met Greitens because she cut his hair.
  • Greitens invited the woman to his home, allegedly refusing to meet her in public because he knew “this is wrong.”
  • The woman alleges Greitens taped her hands to some rings and blindfolded her. Then, she said he took a picture of her naked and threatened to release the picture publicly if she ever mentioned his name.
  • The woman said the sexual encounter itself was consensual.
  • The woman and her husband divorced in March 2016.

Greitens responds to the allegations

James Bennett, an attorney for Greitens, released a statement Wednesday.

“The governor has now seen the TV report that ran tonight. The station declined to provide the tape or transcript in advance of running their story, which contained multiple false allegations. The claim that this nearly three-year-old story has generated or should generate law enforcement interest is completely false. There was no blackmail and that claim is false. This personal matter has been addressed by the governor and Mrs. Greitens privately years ago when it happened. The outrageous claims of improper conduct regarding these almost three-year-ago events are false.”

Greitens and his wife released a joint statement to News 4:

“A few years ago, before Eric was elected governor, there was a time when he was unfaithful in our marriage. This was a deeply personal mistake. Eric took responsibility, and we dealt with this together honestly and privately. While we never would have wished for this pain in our marriage, or the pain that this has caused others, with God’s mercy Sheena has forgiven and we have emerged stronger. We understand that there will be some people who cannot forgive — but for those who can find it in your heart, Eric asks for our forgiveness, and we are grateful for your love, your compassion, and your prayers.”

Will he lose his job?

Because of how fresh the report is, it’s unclear how serious the consequences, if there are any, will be for Greitens. The story is certainly damaging to his reputation since he ran for governor attacking other politicians as corrupt and painting himself as a family man.

Because Greitens has attacked lawmakers, including Republican senators, he has a number of political enemies, and few people speaking up for him after he admitted to the affair.

According to Jason Rosenbaum of St. Louis Public Radio, Missouri politicians are “focusing on” the blackmail aspect of the allegations, which Greitens denied.

Either way, Rosenbaum said Greitens is in “serious” trouble of losing his job over this.