Missouri Governor Eric Greitens posted a second apology on social media shortly after the total number of fellow Republicans calling for his resignation climbed to five Tuesday.
The governor’s Facebook page had gone dormant for five days after he followed up his initial statement of regret with two posts from his personal attorney who vigorously denied any wrongdoing.
Greitens has acknowledged that he had an affair with a hair stylist in 2015 but rejects allegations he attempted blackmail. His Tuesday apology was more lengthy and personal than the first.
“I took responsibility with my family back when this happened, asked for God’s forgiveness and Sheena’s, and Sheena and I dealt with this together, privately,” Greitens said on his Facebook page. “I was, and today I still am, grateful for her forgiveness and love.”
The unnamed hair stylist, who was being secretly recorded by her ex-husband, indicated that Greitens blindfolded her while she was partially naked, snapped a photo, and then threatened to distribute the picture if she mentioned his name.
In his Tuesday post, the governor once again signaled a desire to put the issue to rest and move forward. “We have been, and we will, continue to work for and to fight for the people of Missouri,” said Greitens. “We will take our state in a new and better direction. There is still much work to be done, and we are back to work for the people of Missouri.”
The five Republican lawmakers now on record asking for Greitens resignation include State Representatives Kathie Conway, Marsha Haefner, Steve Cookson and Nate Walker, as well as Senator Rob Schaaf.
On the Senate floor Tuesday, Schaaf noted the governor had left him a voicemail seeking a conversation before announcing his response. Among other things, Schaaf sharply criticized the governor for his secretive way of conducting business and use of dark money.
“You have brought to our state a cloud of secrecy and dark money that destroys trust and reeks of corruption,” said Schaaf. “I said last week that my opinion of you had not changed. But my opinion of you has been confirmed.”
Greitens, a former Navy Seal and Rhodes Scholar, came into office in 2017 promising to rid the capitol special interests and career politicians. He has since faced a fine for breaking campaign ethics laws and an investigation for using an app, “Confide”, that may have erased official government business.
He’s also awarded a no contract bid to a donor, refused to identify contributors to his non-profit political action committee and declined to reveal donors to his inauguration festivities.
On the Senate floor Tuesday, Schaaf asserted that the Governor had used taxpayer dollars in having his office’s official attorney try to cover up the story.
“No matter how you spin it, you cannot escape the stench of cover-up,” Schaaf said. “The most important thing is that the people of Missouri must be able to have confidence in their government. But given everything that’s happened, they might forgive, but they won’t forget.”
It became known this week that Greitens’ state lawyer, Lucinda Luetkemeyer, had called Albert Watkins, the attorney representing the ex-husband who had recorded the unnamed woman, before the story was outed in a report last Wednesday night by St. Louis TV station KMOV.
Luetkemeyer told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she did not know whether the story pertained to the governor’s personal life or his official duties when she first made the call.
Watkins revealed Tuesday that he had provided more audiotapes of the woman discussing the governor’s threat with St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner’s office and the FBI.
He told KSDK TV that the recordings are of conversations between Watkins’ client and his ex-wife, but would not discuss the nature of the conversations.
The FBI has not made a formal request for the recordings. Gardner, who began an investigation the allegations last Thursday, has made a formal request. Gardner is a former Democratic state lawmaker.
Tuesday’s events unfolded as two other Republican Senators outlined significant tax plans in a committee hearing. Just last week in his State of the State address, Greitens said he was going to outline “the boldest state tax reform in America”