On a night when Missouri Governor Eric Gretiens was set to display leadership and strength, a salacious story overtook his message.
Shortly after delivering his State of the State address calling for tax cuts and ethics reform, Greitens, his wife and their attorney released a Facebook statement confirming an extramarital affair on the part of the governor.
Their lawyer, James Bennett, denied Greitens had threatened to blackmail a woman after a consensual sexual encounter with her in his home.
KMOV-TV released an audio conversation in which an unnamed woman described to her now ex-husband how Greitens had asked her to come downstairs, where he tied her hands to rings and blindfolded her, after telling her he was going to show her how to do a proper pull-up.
The woman, who KMOV reports was Greitens hair stylist, then described seeing a flash through her blindfold and said Greitens told her to never mention his name, or there would be photos of her everywhere.
The TV report indicated that the woman was unaware her ex-husband was recording her conversation with him
Greitens touted himself as a husband and father while campaigning for governor. The extra marital affair he confirmed having Wednesday night occurred in March of 2016, according to KMOV, which is prior to his formal announcement for the state’s top elected seat.
In the Facebook statement, the governor and his wife Sheena Greitens, admitted he’d been unfaithful in their marriage and had made a deeply personal mistake. Bennett, their attorney, said outrageous claims of improper conduct over the “almost three-year-ago events are a lie”.
KMOV quoted the attorney for the woman’s ex-husband as saying he’d turned over the audio recordings to law enforcement personnel.
The ex-husband told the TV station that he didn’t want to speak out before, but said he’d been contacted by law enforcement and the media. He said he wanted to get out ahead of the story and protect his family.
KMOV reports the woman had one more consensual physical encounter with Greitens on the day he blindfolded her, and eventually asked him not to book anymore hair appointments with her.
The Kansas City Star and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch both claim to have had transcripts of the secret recording from the ex-husband, but declined to write stories because the woman had declined to be interviewed. KMOV did not report any “on the record” comments from the woman.
At least one Democratic state lawmaker has asked that the Republicans Governor step down. Senator Jamilah Nasheed of St. Louis called for Greitens to resign on Twitter Wednesday night.
As of early Thursday morning there were more than 430 comments on Greitens Facebook page, with responses ranging from harsh criticism to offers of forgiveness. Below is the full statement on Facebook from Greitens, his wife and their attorney:
I wanted to share with you some statements that are important in light of news you may have seen tonight.
A statement from James F. Bennett, our attorney:
“The Governor has now seen the TV report that ran tonight. The station declined to provide the tape or transcript in advance of running their story, which contained multiple false allegations. The claim that this nearly three-year old story has generated or should generate law enforcement interest is completely false. There was no ‘blackmail,’ and that claim is false. This personal matter has been addressed by the Governor and Mrs. Greitens privately years ago when it happened. The outrageous claims of improper conduct regarding these almost three-year-ago events are a lie.”
Joint statement from Sheena and I:
“A few years ago, before Eric was elected governor, there was a time when he was unfaithful in our marriage. This was a deeply personal mistake. Eric took responsibility, and we dealt with this together honestly and privately. 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.”
An additional statement from Sheena:
“We have a loving marriage and an awesome family; anything beyond that is between us and God. I want the media and those who wish to peddle gossip to stay away from me and my children.”