Missouri’s governor admitted that he had an extramarital affair “a few years ago” but is denying explosive allegations that he threatened the woman that he would release nude photos of her if she ever revealed their relationship.
In a joint press release Wednesday, Gov. Eric Greitens and his wife, Sheena, said that “a few years ago . . . there was a time when he was unfaithful in our marriage,” The Washington Post reported. “This was a deeply personal mistake. Eric took responsibility, and we dealt with this together honestly and privately.”
A Democrat-turned-Republican, Greitens was responding to a local television report about his 2015 affair with the unnamed woman, reportedly his former hairdresser. KMOV in St. Louis also aired a recording apparently made by the woman’s ex-husband in which she told him how Greitens bound her to a piece of exercise equipment in his home and blindfolded her – with her consent – before allegedly taking the photos.
The story broke on Wednesday just after the 44-year-old Republican delivered his state-of-the-state address.
“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,” his wife said in her own statement, in addition to the joint statement released with her husband.
Greitens, who was elected governor in November 2016, did not respond to the controversial accusations of blackmail, but the couple’s attorney, James F. Bennett, denied the claims.
“There was no ‘blackmail,’ ” Bennett said in a written statement, according to the Washington Post, “and that claim is false. . . . The outrageous claims of improper contact regarding these almost three-year-ago events are a lie.”
The rumors had been churning for weeks as the woman’s ex-husband told KMOV his marriage was shattered because of the relationship between his wife at the time and Greitens, whom he called a “homewrecker,” according to KMOV.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch and the Kansas City Star reportedly decided against going with the story when the man had originally approached them, though they admitted having copies of the transcripts from the recording, according to the Washington Post.
“I am not after anything,” the unnamed ex-husband told KMOV. “I am not a part of politics. I am not a part of anything. I just want to move on with my life.”
The local television station ran with the story ahead of any statement from the governor, headlining the report, “Blackmail alleged as Governor Greitens admits to extramarital affair.” The station admitted having no “on-the-record-comment” from the woman, but happily took credit for forcing Greitens’ hand in making his statement, according to the Post.
Greitens ran for office touting his background as being a family man.
“I’m Eric Greitens,” he said during the campaign. “I’m a Navy SEAL, native Missourian and most importantly, a proud husband and father.”
Though Greitens has had his moments of success as governor, like signing a right-to-work law early last year, he was fined $1,000 after admitting to the Missouri Ethics Commission that he had violated campaign finance law, according to the Kansas City Star.
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