St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner will launch a criminal investigation into accusations engulfing Gov. Eric Greitens, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Greitens’ acknowledgment of an extramarital affair and denial of possible blackmail shook the GOP-controlled state capital on Thursday. 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. “The seriousness of this allegation and the implications it will have on the integrity of our state government are deeply disturbing,” their letter said.
A spokeswoman for Hawley said Gardner has jurisdiction. She said she would launch an investigation. The alleged incident occurred at Greitens’ home in St. Louis’ Central West End. Greitens’ attorney, James Bennett, called the allegations “false” and said they are being advanced by the governor’s political adversaries. “The governor is very confident he will be cleared in any investigation. This is a three-year-old personal matter that presents no matters of public or legal interest. The facts will prove that fully,” Bennett said. The scandal has the potential to upend the political career of the ex-Navy SEAL Greitens, who elbowed his way past Missouri’s political establishment in 2016 to assume the state’s top job. His out-of-state travel, ambition and aptitude for fundraising indicate aspirations beyond Missouri’s borders. The frenzy was triggered by a story on St. Louis television station KMOV. 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 reveal if she ever told anyone about the encounter.