The details of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ (R) sex scandal make it more damaging than most. The Republican governor concedes he had an extra-marital affair, which occurred the year before he launched his campaign for statewide office, but as part of the story, Greitens is also accused of trying to blackmail his former mistress to keep their relationship secret.
Indeed, though the governor denies this part of the story, there’s an audio recording of the woman in question claiming Greitens took nude photographs of her, while she was blindfolded and her hands were tied, which was followed by an alleged verbal threat. (The recording has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News.)
The governor’s strategy, at least at first, was to respond to the scandal by keeping a low public profile, and quietly reaching out to Missouri lawmakers, hoping to salvage his career. But as an investigation into the matter gets underway – a St. Louis prosecutor began scrutinizing the allegations last week – Greitens’ efforts are facing serious headwinds. The Kansas City Star reported overnight:
At least five Republican lawmakers are calling for Gov. Eric Greitens to resign after allegations that he blackmailed a woman in an effort to keep her quiet about an extramarital affair. […]
Democratic lawmakers called for the governor to resign within hours of the initial report.
I won’t pretend to be an expert in Missouri politics, but as a rule, when a sitting governor faces bipartisan pressure to resign, that governor’s future is not bright.
For his part, Greitens, who apologized for his personal misdeeds last week, published another public apology last night. This came against the backdrop of new details surrounding how the governor’s office responded to the initial reports.
Before news of the allegations against Greitens broke on Jan. 10, an attorney for the governor’s office, Lucinda Luetkemeyer, spoke with a lawyer for the hairstylist’s ex-husband, the man who exposed his former wife’s extramarital affair with Greitens, according to audio of the conversation obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Associated Press.
“She was clearly calling me trying to facilitate damage control,” the St. Louis attorney, Albert Watkins, told the Associated Press. “If it’s a private and personal matter, why is your counsel calling?”
“I found it chillingly disturbing that she would make that call as a state-paid employee,” Watkins told the Post-Dispatch.
Several legal experts raised ethical concerns over the governor’s decision to use public resources to defend himself, according to the Post-Dispatch. Greitens’s private attorney told the newspaper that the governor is now paying for his own legal team but did not address any moves made before the allegations broke.
One GOP state senator, in an apparent reference to his party’s governor, tweeted the other day, “Stick a fork in him.”