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Image: Eric Greitens
Eric Greitens in Jefferson City, Mo., on May 17, 2018.Jeff Roberson / AP

Leading GOP Senate hopeful faces new domestic abuse allegations

Ordinarily, the domestic abuse allegations surrounding Eric Greitens would end his Republican Senate campaign. But in 2022, he might persevere anyway.


By any fair measure, Eric Greitens is the most scandal-plagued Senate candidate in the nation. The Missouri Republican served 17 months as governor, before resigning in disgrace in 2018 in the face of scandals he simply could not overcome.

As regular readers may recall, there were serious questions, for example, surrounding Greitens’ dubious political support from a secretive dark-money non-profit organization. He also struggled with allegations about illegally misusing a veterans charity he created.

But the most important of the Missouri Republican’s scandals was the controversy surrounding his extramarital affair, in which Greitens was accused of, among other things, blackmailing his former mistress following an encounter in which he taped her hands to pull-up rings in his basement. Once the revelations came to light, the governor, left with little choice, resigned.

His political career appeared over, until one year ago today, when Greitens launched a comeback bid, announcing a U.S. Senate campaign. In the months that followed, the former governor even managed to position himself as the apparent frontrunner.

It was against this backdrop that the GOP candidate faced a new round of allegations yesterday. NBC News reported:

The ex-wife of former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens alleged in court documents Monday that Greitens, a GOP Senate candidate, abused her and their young son while they were married, including knocking her down and confiscating her cellphone. In an affidavit for a custody case in Boone County, Missouri, Sheena Greitens said she was the victim of domestic violence while she was married to Eric Greitens for almost a decade.

There can be no doubt about the seriousness of the allegations. According to Sheena Greitens, her ex-husband’s abuse “included physical violence toward our children.”

The former governor denied the allegations, calling them “fabricated” and “baseless.” In a court filing, his lawyer added that the accusations were false, “inflammatory and scurrilous.”

As a matter of human decency, the claims are difficult to even read about. But all of this is also reaching the public in the midst of a competitive statewide campaign, with a primary that’s just four months away.

In the not-too-distant past, such a controversy likely would’ve ended a Senate candidate’s campaign, and several leading GOP voices — in Missouri and on Capitol Hill — suggested Greitens should exit the race. This wasn’t altogether new: Republicans have spent much of the last year arguing that the former governor is the only GOP candidate in the race who might actually lose the open Senate contest.

In other words, the party wanted Greitens to quit before yesterday’s reporting. The domestic-abuse allegations have taken those sentiments to a new level of intensity.

At least for now, however, there’s little to suggest he’s poised to drop out. On the contrary, the former governor appeared yesterday afternoon on Steve Bannon’s program, claiming that his ex-wife conspired with his Republican detractors to make him look bad.

As a Politico report added, Greitens believes evidence will emerge that will “directly” implicate Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the new controversy.

I won’t pretend to know what will happen next, though it’s worth emphasizing for context that Greitens isn’t the first Republican Senate hopeful in this election cycle to face allegations like these.

Last fall, for example, Pennsylvania’s Sean Parnell was accused of strangling his wife and abusing his children, and though he denied the claims, he also ended his campaign.

As we’ve discussed, Georgia’s Herschel Walker has faced related allegations: The Associated Press reported that his ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, secured a protective order against Walker, alleging violent and controlling behavior.

According to Grossman’s version of events, the former athlete pointed a pistol at her head and said, “I’m going to blow your f’ing brains out.” When she filed for divorce, she cited “physically abusive and extremely threatening behavior.”

Greitens is also a part of this tragic trio.