The Missouri Republican Party on Friday rushed to defend Gov. Eric Greitens (R), who was indicted this week for allegedly taking a nude photo of a woman without her consent and threatening to use it as blackmail.
“Kim Gardner has received more than $200,000 from George Soros groups,” Executive Director Sam Cooper stated, referring to the St. Louis circuit attorney who launched the initial investigation into Greitens after the allegations first went public in January. “Missourians should see this for what it is, a political hit job.”
Here’s our full statement on the recent news re: Governor Greitens ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/QlsRmlgEiv
— Missouri GOP (@MissouriGOP) February 23, 2018
Greitens was arrested Thursday on a felony invasion of privacy charge stemming from a 2015 incident in which he allegedly took naked photos of a woman with whom he was having an affair and threatened to use them against her if she ever made their affair public. The woman, Greitens’ hairdresser at the time, said she had initially approached him for a coffee date, but that he insisted on her coming to his home, at which point the two engaged in a consensual sexual encounter. After he tied her hands to exercise rings and blindfolded her, Greitens allegedly snapped a photo of the woman and told her, “You’re never going to mention my name, otherwise there will be pictures of [you] everywhere.”
KMOV first reported the allegations, which were detailed in a tape recording the woman’s ex-husband made while the two were still together, in early January.
According to Greitens’ indictment, the governor has been charged with violating Missouri State Statute 565.252, which prohibits individuals from from photographing or taping someone “in a state of full or partial nudity” without their consent and carries a special three-year statute of limitations, according to the circuit attorney’s office.
“This law has never been prosecuted in this way and it is safe to say if Eric Greitens wasn’t the governor, it wouldn’t have been this time either,” Cooper stated. “We have a progressive anti-law enforcement Democrat wanting to single-handedly oust a law-and-order governor. We look forward to a bipartisan committee of legislators elected by people across Missouri to find out what’s really going on – ensuring St. Louis liberals aren’t controlling the future of our state.”
Many of those state legislators, several of them Republican, aren’t quite so forgiving.
“I am disgusted to learn that a grand jury has found sufficient evidence to indict Governor Greitens on a felony charge,” Sen. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) wrote in a statement. “The conservative values that put us in office are far bigger than any single person. For the sake of our state, I am calling on Governor Greitens to put an end to this distraction and resign immediately. Should he refuse to step aside, I will call on my colleagues in the house to take all necessary actions to remove the governor from office.”
— Caleb Rowden (@calebrowden) February 23, 2018
State Sen. Rob Schaaf also demanded the governor resign his post on Thursday, telling FOX2 reporter Molly Rose that “Missouri’s name is being tarnished across the nation.” Speaking with The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin, he added, “If he doesn’t resign, the state House…should move swiftly to bring this to a resolution.”
Greitens himself has condemned the indictment as a partisan ambush, issuing a statement on Facebook Thursday in which he called it a “misguided political decision.”
“As I have said before, I made a personal mistake before I was Governor. I did not commit a crime,” he said, echoing his earlier statement from January in which he admitted the affair but denied the blackmail claims. “With today’s disappointing and misguided political decision, my confidence in our prosecutorial system is shaken, but not broken. I know this will be righted soon. The people of Missouri deserve better than a reckless liberal prosecutor who uses her office to score political points. I look forward to the legal remedies to reverse this action.”
St. Louis circuit attorney Gardner has since responded to Greitens, claiming that the attacks will not deter her efforts.
“Despite the Governor’s personal attacks, the Circuit Attorney believes the courtroom is the appropriate place to argue the facts, not the media,” her lawyer stated. “Kim Gardner maintains her unwavering confidence in our system of justice to bring this matter to a fair and just resolution.”