- Gov. Eric Greitens of Missouri has been accused of taking a compromising photo of a woman with whom he has admitted to having an extramarital affair before he became governor, according to the St. Louis CBS affiliate, KMOV.
- A lawyer denied allegations that Greitens intended to blackmail the woman.
Republican Gov. Eric Greitens of Missouri has been accused of taking a compromising photo of a woman with whom he has admitted to having an extramarital affair, an investigation by the local CBS affiliate KMOV revealed Wednesday. A lawyer for Greitens later pushed back, saying there was “no blackmail.”
In reporting on the affair, KMOV cited an audio recording between the woman, whom it did not identify, and her husband at the time. In the recording, the woman reportedly said she met Greitens when he was a customer at a hair salon where she worked.
The ex-husband, who, according to KMOV, said he made the recording in 2015 without the woman’s knowledge, said that the affair happened in March of that year and that Greitens “took a picture of my wife naked as blackmail.” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which said it had also listened to the recording and interviewed the ex-husband, said the woman described herself in the recording as being blindfolded and partly undressed in the photo.
The Post-Dispatch said the woman turned down multiple interview requests, and KMOV said she declined to comment on the record.
“There is no worse person,” the ex-husband said of Greitens, adding: “I think it’s as bad as it gets. It’s as bad as it gets when someone takes advantage of something.”
In the recording, the woman reportedly said that her sexual encounter with Greitens was consensual and that Greitens later apologised and told her he had deleted the photo.
Greitens, who publicly acknowledged the affair on Wednesday, said in a joint statement with his wife, Sheena, that the affair took place “a few years ago,” before his 2016 election, and that it was a “deeply personal mistake.”
“Eric took responsibility, and we dealt with this together honestly and privately,” the statement said, according to KMOV. “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 your forgiveness, and we are grateful for your love, your compassion, and your prayers.”
James Bennett, Greitens’ attorney, issued a statement saying that there were “multiple false allegations” in a KMOV report on the matter that aired on local television and that “there was no blackmail.”
“The outrageous claims of improper conduct regarding these almost three-year-ago events are false,” Bennett said.
Following the news, lawmakers expressed their disappointment asked him to step down from office.
“I’m calling on Governor Greitens to resign immediately and give Missouri the opportunity to restore some dignity to the governor’s office,” Democratic Missouri State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed tweeted.
“I am extremely disappointed in Governor Eric Greitens and that I believe he has hoodwinked us, the citizens of Missouri,” Republican State Rep. Nate Walker said, according to a Missouri journalist. “Rumour had been circulating around the State Capitol earlier today that this was coming. I am not sure what Governor Greitens will do next – in my opinion he has broken the public trust. I may have more to say once the terrible shock of this sets further in.”
Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, had been seen as a rising star in political circles. At 43, he is the second-youngest governor in the country, and he expressed further political ambitions after reserving the web address “EricGreitensForPresident.com.”
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