Missouri's Republican governor, Eric Greitens, recently made headlines when he was accused of blackmailing his former lover with semi-nude photos. Now he faces a criminal investigation by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.
While GOP legislative leaders limited their statements to expressions of concern and requests that Greitens be honest about what happened, a bipartisan chorus of senators called on Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican, to investigate.
However, jurisdiction fell to Gardner, who announced Thursday that she has opened an investigation.
“The serious allegations against Missouri Governor Eric Greitens are very troubling. After further consideration, I have decided to launch a formal investigation,” Gardner said.
“It is essential for residents of the City of St. Louis and our state to have confidence in their leaders. They must know that the Office of the Circuit Attorney will hold public officials accountable in the same manner as any other resident of our city. Both parties and the people of St. Louis deserve a thorough investigation of these allegations.”
The governor has admitted to having an affair but denied all other allegations.
Greitens on Wednesday night confessed to having an affair, but denied through his lawyer that he took a photo, threatened the woman with releasing it or was ever violent with her.
In addition to denying any charges of blackmail,Bennett said: “Any allegation of violence is completely false. It never happened. There was never any violence. This was a consensual relationship that lasted multiple months and was years ago before Eric was elected governor.”
The woman alleged that Greitens threatened to go public with a photo he had taken if she were to ever mention the affair.
The frenzy in Jefferson City was triggered Wednesday night by a story on St. Louis television station KMOV (Channel 4). It quoted a man who provided a recording of his then-wife telling him that Greitens had partially undressed her, taped her to exercise equipment, took her photo and then threatened to release the photo if she ever told anyone about the encounter.