Thanks to Pence's office, Navy welcomed back scandal-plagued gov

The Navy didn't want disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens (R) to return. Then Vice President Pence's office reportedly intervened.
Image: Eric Greitens
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens in Washington on May 17, 2018.Jeff Roberson / AP
By Steve Benen

For a governor who was only in office for 17 months, Missouri's Eric Greitens (R) had an extraordinarily controversial tenure. There was no shortage of questions, for example, surrounding the Republican's dubious political support from a secretive dark money nonprofit. Greitens also struggled with allegations about illegally misusing a veterans charity he created.

The most serious of the Missouri Republican's scandals, however, 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.

Two years ago, left with little choice, the governor resigned. It was, as regular readers may recall, a remarkable fall from grace for a young Republican who was seen as a rising star -- the Rhodes Scholar and retired Navy Seal had even registered the EricGreitensForPresident.com domain name.

Several months after stepping down in disgrace, Greitens decided to he wanted to be reinstated to military service. The trouble, as the Kansas City Star reported the other day, was "neither the SEALs nor the Navy wanted him back" -- a fact made clear by documents the newspaper obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Greitens had been charged with a felony in 2018 connected to allegations of violent sexual misconduct. Though the charge was ultimately dropped, the Navy wasn't ready to welcome the former governor back at a time when the military was facing intense criticism over its response to sexual assault in its ranks.

And if that were the end of the story, it wouldn't be especially notable. A politician tried to kickstart his military career, only to discover that the military was no longer interested in his tarnished name.

But as the Star also discovered, Greitens was ultimately allowed to return to the Navy as a reservist -- "after the intervention of Vice President Mike Pence's office."

Precisely what Team Pence did for Greitens is a bit murky. According to the materials provided through the FOIA request, Navy officials acknowledged "interest" in Greitens' fate from the vice president's office. Also Greitens apparently told the Navy that Pence had asked Greitens to work for him, "and suggested he do it in a Navy capacity."

The Star's article added:

Greitens and Pence have political ties through Nick Ayers, a veteran GOP strategist that ran Greitens' 2016 gubernatorial campaign and went on to serve as the vice president's chief of staff for two years. Ayers was also connected to dark money nonprofits that helped bankroll Greitens' successful run for governor, and his protege continued to serve Greitens as a chief political strategist long after Ayers began working for the vice president.

It was after Pence's office took an interest, the article added, that the Navy welcomed Greitens back, complete with a "red-carpet physical."

I'll look forward to hearing more from the vice president's operation as to what, exactly, it did to help the Missouri Republican -- and why. In the meantime, the Star's reporting added that Greitens is "trying to rehabilitate his image with regular spots on Fox News and ads on social media."