Greitens Admits Affair, Denies Blackmail
St. Louis TV station KMOV aired an interview with a man claiming that Governor Eric Greitens had an affair with his then-wife. See the story here. Greitens admitted the affair in a statement, asking for forgiveness. See the statement here.
The story also has the woman saying on tape that Greitens took a nude picture of her and warned that the photo would go everywhere if she didn’t keep their relationship secret. Greitens’ lawyer denied this charge of blackmail in a statement.
I’ll say to my ears, the charge sure sounds credible. The woman – who didn’t know she was being recorded – is emotional, like the memory is painful and like she’s just laying out the truth.
So far there’s been limited on-the-record reaction from politicians… Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (see it here) called for Greitens to resign. And Jason Hunsicker, managing editor of the Kirksville Daily Express, gets Rep. Nate Walker on the record: “I am extremely disappointed in Governor Eric Greitens and that I believe he has hoodwinked us, the citizens of Missouri …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.”
One person close to Team Greitens tells me emphatically that there is “no way” he will resign.
Keep in Mind
We are very early in this story. Not even twelve hours in. And that’s what scares a lot of Republicans who might otherwise rally around their party’s governor.
First and foremost, there will be a law enforcement investigation into the allegation of blackmail. Perhaps the ex-wife will deny it now or be uncooperative, but I think at the very least there’s an investigation.
Second, the rumors of this story have been swirling and intensifying over the past 48 hours. During that time folks in the building have started asking a lot of questions as they gamed out possible scenarios. There’s a ton of fear that there are more terrible revelations just below the surface of this scandal. Supporters of the governor may find this talk offensive, but actual questions I’ve heard staffers and legislators wonder aloud: was Greitens involved in any scheme to “pay off” the woman to keep her silent? Are there other women/affairs as well?
No one wants to stick up for him only to be dragged into more allegations. And of course after a year of holier-than-thou rhetoric, calling everyone else in Jefferson City “corrupt,” Greitens has very few friends who want to take the risk and go to bat for him right now. Wait-and-see is the safest path.
Here are two texts I received from lobbyists late last night. Neither is hyper-partisan or has a dog in the fight. I think they reflect the range of reaction.
The first one focuses on the affair: “He has the support of Sheena. She’s clearly known about this for a while. He will not, and there is no need for a resignation. It’s highly embarrassing, but that’s all.”
The second reflects the mood of the building right now: “It is amazing I have not had a single person tell me they [believe the blackmail denial]. Not a single one. Think about that. Republicans. Democrats. Everyone thinks a person that committed a felony is governor.”
Will Any GOPers Step Up?
The last time the building was gripped with a scandal similar to this Reps. Jay Barnes and Paul Curtman were willing to step up and demand that Speaker John Diehl resign. Who are the Barnes and Curtman of this scandal? Are there Republicans who will say, “This is not acceptable for a governor.”
This is a national story.
See the initial AP story that will run in hundreds of papers here.
ABCNews headlines it like this…. Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens: I cheated on my wife in 2015
And one (Republican) politico called me around 1AM to predict that it would be fodder for all the late-night shows for the rest of the week.
Oh Yeah Also…
Greitens gave his State of the State speech. Read it here once the governor’s office puts it on-line. It was understandably pretty thin on any concrete policy proposals. The big announcement is that he wants a tax reform/ tax cut for Missouri. But there were no (zero) details or outline of the proposal. Early next week, my team and I will lay out a detailed, thoughtful, and thorough plan to cut taxes on the hardest-working families in our state. It is the boldest state tax reform in America. And with your help, we will lower taxes for working families and make it easier for businesses to come to Missouri and create jobs. And we will do it in a way that is fiscally sound, maintains our state’s triple-A credit rating, and does not burden our children with debt.
Nothing, not a sentence, not a word, about transportation funding.
Q&A#1: Can Greitens Govern?
Short answer: Yes. At about 10% capacity now.
Governor Eric Greitens’ pen still works. He can sign legislation and veto it. But beyond that he’s extremely hamstrung for a while. There’s no more bully pulpit.
Next week’s fly-around presumably for tax reform roll-out (St. Peters, Poplar Bluff, Springfield, Macon) will either be quietly cancelled or quietly fulfilled. Let’s be honest: the taping the woman to the exercise equipment and photographing her nude part of the story freaks out Republican politicians. Right now, they do not want to be seen with him.
Except for press folks who may want to ask questions about Confide and affairs, not sure anyone will be excited by the governor having public appearances.
South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce “Legislative Breakfast” presented by Councilmen Scott Taylor and Kevin McManus and City Lobbyist Sammy Panettiere – Burns & McDonnell, 9450 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, MO 64114 – 7:30AM.
Chris Hankins added Justice for Jake.
Mark Reading deleted Konica Minolta.
Jorgen Schlemeier, Sarah Topp, Jeffrey Brooks, William Gamble, Cynthia Gamble, Kathryn Gamble, and David Jackson deleted Board of Trustees of Boone County Hospital
Find the Cures - $65,000 from Bradley Bradshaw.
CLEAN Missouri - $25,000 from Missouri’s Future.
CLEAN Missouri - $25,000 from MO Republican Attorneys for Civil Justice PAC.
CLEAN Missouri - $10,000 from Davis, Bethune & Jones, LLC.
Happy birthdays to Judy Morgan, Darin Cline, and Scott Intagliata.