Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) is not the first governor to be caught up in a sex scandal, but this story isn’t quite like the one’s we’re used to.
The revelations broke last night with this report from KMOV, the CBS affiliate in St. Louis.
Governor Eric Greitens on Wednesday night confirmed to News 4 he had an extramarital affair, an admission a months-long News 4 investigation prompted.
In a recording obtained by News 4, a woman says she had a sexual encounter with Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and that he tried to blackmail her to keep the encounter quiet.
The details were provided to News 4 by the woman’s ex-husband, claiming the sexual relationship happened between his now ex-wife and Greitens in March 2015. News 4 is not naming the woman and she has not made an on-the-record comment about the story.
Greitens’ extra-marital affair, which occurred before he was elected governor, would not ordinarily be a career-ender in contemporary politics. The Republican, who’s only been in office for a year, might have difficulty explaining why he presented himself to voters as a committed family man, but politicians have survived controversies like these before.
What makes this story different is that the Missouri governor is accused not only of “horrible and disgusting” private acts, but also of allegedly attempting to blackmail his mistress.
“He took a picture of my wife naked as blackmail,” the ex-husband told the local station. “There is no worse person.”
A report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch added that while the relationship was consensual, the alleged photography was not: “She said in the audio that she wasn’t aware he was doing it until she saw a flash of light through the blindfold, followed by his alleged verbal threat.”
And while I’m not an attorney, and there are others who can speak to this with far more authority than I can, it’s worth noting that blackmail can be a crime.
The governor issued a statement acknowledging the extra-marital affair, but insisting there was no blackmail. Greitens’ attorney issued a related statement.
I know of one Democratic state lawmaker who’s called for the governor to resign, and it’s likely, she won’t be the only one.
Update: Some additional notes on this to keep in mind:
* The governor’s statement was prompted by the local station’s report, and the governor’s attorney has asserted some of the allegations in that report are untrue.
* Greitens has acknowledged having been “unfaithful,” but he hasn’t confirmed a relationship with the woman in question, and she hasn’t confirmed the story.
* The recording that serves as the basis for the story has not been verified by MSNBC or NBC News.