|Eric and Sheena Greitens|
How bad could this get for Eric Greitens, who rose to high office mainly because his bio includes a stint as a Navy Seal? Well, the admitted affair likely will stick a fork in any "pro family" credentials he might have had. And the affair story includes allegations of blackmail that could prove especially troubling for Greitens.
Greitens and his wife issued a joint statement last night after a St. Louis television station aired a segment about the affair, with the city's major newspaper (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) about to follow suit. From a report at stltoday.com:
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and his wife, Sheena Greitens, issued an extraordinary statement late Wednesday acknowledging that he had an extramarital affair in the past and that the couple “has dealt with this together honestly and privately.”
The statement came as a St. Louis television station aired a segment alleging that, during that affair, Greitens took a compromising photograph of the woman and threatened to publicize it if she exposed him. The statement from Greitens and his wife didn’t address that part of the allegation.
Greitens’ attorney, James F. Bennett, issued a statement denying the blackmail allegation.
“There was no blackmail, and that claim is false,” Bennett said. “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 false.”
Is the blackmail claim false? There seems to be quite a bit of doubt about that. From stltoday.com:
KMOV (Channel 4), in its report, quoted the former husband of the woman who allegedly had the affair with Greitens. The station did not quote the woman in its story, nor did it name the woman or her husband.
The station played portions of an audio recording that the then-husband says he made in March 2015, surreptitiously, of his then-wife confessing to a sexual encounter with Greitens days earlier.
The Post-Dispatch also has possession of the audio and has interviewed the ex-husband. The newspaper had previously decided against writing a story based solely on the husband and the audio recording, because the woman in question has consistently declined to be interviewed. However, Greitens’ public acknowledgment of an affair made it necessary to revisit that decision.
“You’re never going to mention my name, otherwise this picture will be everywhere,” Greitens told the woman, she claims on the audio. She is heard telling her then-husband that Greitens made the statement after he took a photo while she was bound, blindfolded and partly undressed during a sexual encounter at Greitens’ St. Louis home in March 2015. That was about a month after his first public statements confirming he was considering a political run.
The affair has its roots at a hair salon:
The ex-husband said the woman had been Greitens’ hair stylist before he ran for governor in 2016. The woman claims in the audio recording that initial flirtation grew into an affair that became physically intimate for the first time on the morning of March 21, 2015, when she went to Greitens’ home in the Central West End.
The woman claims in the audio that they went into Greitens’ basement, where he bound her to a piece of exercise equipment with some kind of tape, put a blindfold on her and began partly undressing her and touching her.
That part of the encounter was consensual, she indicates in the audio, but the alleged taking of the photograph wasn’t. She said in the audio that she wasn’t aware he was doing it until she saw a flash of light through the blindfold, followed by his alleged verbal threat.
During most of 2015, as the alleged affair was under way, Greitens was publicly discussing his plans to get into politics. He confirmed his interest in running for an unspecified statewide office in a written statement given to the media in February 2015 — less than a month before the alleged sexual blackmail episode took place.
On Oct. 20, 2015 — three weeks after Greitens filed papers formally starting his 2016 campaign for governor — the woman sent an email to an account that contains Greitens’ name. It’s the same email account Greitens listed in setting up a political website he used in his gubernatorial campaign.
“Eric, I’m asking you to please consider all who are involved and the circumstances around us,” the woman wrote in the email, which the Post-Dispatch obtained. “I need you to not book at the salon anymore. This isn’t fair to me, nor anyone close to us. Please respect me and my wishes. I need to move forward in my life as I know you are doing as well. Take care.”
The woman’s ex-husband, in statements to the Post-Dispatch in the past two weeks, laid blame for the collapse of his marriage largely on Greitens.
“Throughout that summer … the power of manipulation that Mr. Greitens had over my wife had become undeniable,” he said in the written statements, which were provided through his attorney, Albert Watkins. “Yes, the affair between (his wife) and Mr. Greitens was the main reason for the irreparability of our marriage.”