|Eric and Sheena Greitens|
As if the news could not get much more treacherous for the embattled former Navy SEAL, reports broke last night that the ex husband of Greitens' mistress has more audiotapes than had originally been made known to the public -- and he has turned them over to the FBI and state law-enforcement officials. On top of that, five GOP lawmakers in Jefferson City called on Greitens to resign.
The angle of Greitens using a state-paid attorney in an attempt at damage control could prove to be his undoing. From an article at stltoday.com:
Before news of a scandal involving Gov. Eric Greitens broke on Wednesday, at least one of his taxpayer-paid attorneys was on an intelligence-gathering mission.
In audio obtained by the Post-Dispatch, an attorney who works in the governor’s office, Lucinda Luetkemeyer, is recorded speaking with St. Louis attorney Albert Watkins about the political storm that was brewing.
Watkins represents the man who has alleged that Greitens in 2015 took a compromising photo of the man’s then-wife and threatened to release it if she ever spoke of their affair.
It is unclear from the recording whether Luetkemeyer knew of those allegations.
“Can I just ask you this question, Al?” Luetkemeyer asks in the audio. “Is your client talking to anyone in the media right now?”
His client was talking to the media.
Watkins, who provided a copy of the audio recording to the Post-Dispatch, said the conversation occurred about 2 p.m. Wednesday. At 10 p.m., St. Louis television station KMOV-TV (Channel 4) first reported that Greitens, a Republican, had an extramarital affair as he was preparing his successful run for governor. Greitens has denied taking a photo or threatening the woman.
The use of public resources for personal business has serious implications:
The recording offered a behind-the-scenes view of the Greitens’ governmental team and how it was trying to gather information about the emerging story. It also raised questions, Watkins said, about whether taxpayer resources should have been used to help control possible fallout.
“I found it chillingly disturbing that she would make that call as a state-paid employee,” Watkins said.
Watkins said he did not tell Luetkemeyer that he was recording their conversation. Such a recording is generally legal in Missouri if one party is aware that a recording is being made.
Glendale Mayor Richard Magee, who has worked as an attorney for several St. Louis County municipalities, said state employees shouldn’t expend taxpayer resources on a public official’s private legal matters.
“That person should be working on state-related business,” he said. “This is a great example of a personal situation ... It has nothing to do with his position other than it may diminish people’s confidence in him.”
You don't have to go too far back in Missouri history to find another politician who paid dearly for using public resources for personal gain. Like Greitens, William Webster was considered possible presidential timber. But in the early 1990s, Webster became ensnared in a federal investigation:
The federal investigation of William Webster began in 1991. The U.S. attorney's office in Springfield received a tip about a land deal involving a partnership that included William, Richard Jr. and Sen. Webster [Bill's brother and father]. The partnership sold a financially troubled condominium development to a group that included Stephen Redford, a resort developer who had been investigated by the attorney general's office.
Then, prompted by several articles in the Post-Dispatch, the investigation turned to William E. Roussin, the St. Louis lawyer who defended the Second Injury Fund for the attorney general's office and collected campaign contributions for Webster.
Throughout his campaign for governor, Webster denied that he was under investigation, even though federal authorities had informed him in November 1991 — a year before the election — that he was a target.
Redford and Roussin pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges, implicating Webster as they did so. Webster hadn't been charged. By then the court of public opinion, in Missouri's Nov. 3 general election, had issued its verdict. Webster lost the governor's race overwhelmingly to Democrat Mel Carnahan.
Despite the $5 million that Webster collected for his campaign, he still shaved campaign expenses by using his staff and equipment in the attorney general's office for political purposes. He reluctantly pleaded guilty to that last week before U.S. District Judge D. Brook Bartlett.
Could Eric Greitens be headed down the same path as William Webster, also a Republican? The release of more audiotapes will not help matters. From an article at stltoday.com:
An attorney for the man whose secretly recorded conversation with his wife exposed Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ extramarital affair last week says his client made additional recordings as well, and that he has forwarded them to both the St. Louis circuit attorney’s office and the FBI.
The attorney, Albert Watkins, didn’t specify that the FBI requested the previously undisclosed recordings, but he said there was an “expression of interest” by the federal agency about them.
Watkins declined to comment on how many additional recordings between the then-spouses exist, or whether the additional recordings involved any discussion of Greitens.
Greitens last week acknowledged he’d had an affair with the woman, his hair stylist, in 2015, as he was starting his run for governor. Greitens has forcefully denied a related allegation that the woman made to her husband: that Greitens took a nonconsensual photo of her while she was bound, blindfolded and partly undressed during a sexual encounter and that he threatened to publicize the photo if she exposed their affair.
The taking of nonconsensual photos of a person in a state of full or partial nudity is a Class A misdemeanor in Missouri, punishable by up to a year imprisonment. Some legal experts say Greitens’ alleged threat regarding the photo also could constitute blackmail or extortion.