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Update: Greitens faces calls for resignation in wake of sex scandal, blackmail allegations

The St. Louis Circuit Attorney plans a criminal investigation

January 11, 2018 - 4:26 am

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens continues to deal with fallout from his sex scandal that broke after the state-of-the-state address Wednesday night.

The governor admits to having an extramarital affair with his former hairdresser in 2015, but denies the woman's ex-husband's allegation that he tried to blackmail her into keeping it a secret.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced Thursday she will launch a criminal investigation. 

State Rep. Brandon Ellington of Kansas City has joined the chorus of Democrats who are calling for Greitens to resign.

"The call for the resignation has everything to do with the blackmail allegations, that and the ability to actually govern," Ellington said. "I believe it's going to keep growing -- I don't think it's going to go away over the weekend."

Some Republicans also expressed their concerns about the sordid details off Greitens illicit affair. Sen. Doug Libla said he and his colleagues want to first see all the facts before drawing any conclusions.

"I try to pride myself on what the issue is at hand in front of me and I think most of my colleagues do also," Libla said. "We could either stick our head in the sand in the legislature or we can move forward."

A lot people wondering if the governor's career in Jefferson City can withstand the scandal. 

Standards have changed since the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair broke 20 years ago. Whether an offender seems truly repentant has a strong influence in public perception, said Benn Eggleston, philosophy and ethics professor at the University of Kansas.

"An extramarital affair is probably less of a disqualifying factor, and then there might be some other things the public is less forgiving about," Eggleston said. "If it were discovered that an elected official had engaged in sexually harassing his employees, that might be less tolerated today."

Eggleston said Greitens took a risk by bringing his faith into the discussion. It could come across as a reaffirmation of religion, but to non-believers, it could be seen as a sign of hypocrisy.

Content below originally published Jan. 11, 2018.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens acknowledges he was "unfaithful" in his marriage but denies allegations that he blackmailed the woman he had an extramarital affair with to stay quiet.

The Republican governor and his wife released a statement Wednesday night. It came after St. Louis television station KMOV reported that Greitens had a sexual relationship with his former hairdresser in 2015. The station reported that the woman's ex-husband alleged Greitens photographed her nude and threatened to publicize the images if she spoke about the affair.

The woman allegedly involved did not comment on the record to the station, which released its report late Wednesday after Greitens gave his State of the State speech. But her ex-husband provided a recording of her detailing a sexual encounter with Greitens and saying Greitens told her the photos would be released if she exposed the affair. She did not know she was being recorded.

Greitens' statement with his wife, Sheena, didn't address the affair specifically or the allegations, but in a separate statement Greitens' attorney, Jim Bennett, said, "There was no blackmail and that claim is false."

The governor released a series of statements to the media. 

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."

Additional Statement from Sheena Greitens

"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."

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