JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Four Republican lawmakers on Tuesday urged Missouri GOP Gov. Eric Greitens to resign over an extramarital affair and allegations that he threatened to release a partially nude photo of the woman if she went public with their relationship.
State Reps. Nate Walker of Kirksville, Marsha Haefner of Oakville, Steve Cookson of Poplar Bluff and Kathie Conway of St. Charles all separately called for Greitens to step down. Some Democrats also have called for the governor’s resignation.
“For our state to continue to move forward, I think it’s time for new leadership there in the governor’s office,” Walker, an early supporter of Greitens, told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
Jim Bennett, Greitens’ private attorney, said in an email that the governor will not resign.
KMOV-TV reported Jan. 10 that Greitens had an affair with his St. Louis hairdresser in 2015 as he was preparing to run for governor. Greitens acknowledged the affair in a statement minutes after the report, but Bennett later denied the woman’s claim to her now ex-husband, recorded without her knowledge during a March 2015 conversation, that Greitens took a compromising photo.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced a criminal investigation on Thursday, citing “serious allegations” against Greitens, 43, a former Navy Seal officer who defeated Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster in the November 2016 gubernatorial race.
The woman has declined to speak publicly, and The Associated Press is not naming her. Bennett said Greitens did not reach a financial settlement with the woman, and there is no non-disclosure agreement.
Greitens has made no public appearances since news of the affair broke. He canceled a tour this week to promote a tax plan.
Walker said he spoke to Greitens Friday night by phone.
“At first he was trying to blame Democrats and everyone else,” Walker said. “I said, ‘Governor, you have to be accountable for your own actions.”’
Cookson said in a statement that he wanted to appeal to Greitens’ sense of character “and any regard he may have for the good folks of the State of Missouri” in calling for his resignation.
Conway, in a statement to the Missouri Times political publication, wrote that after “taking the weekend to think, study the facts, and pray about it, the path forward is really becoming clear. With a heavy heart, I ask the Governor to consider resigning and allow the state to move forward with its work for our citizens.”
Meanwhile, suburban St. Louis attorney Al Watkins provided The Associated Press with audio of a fact-finding call from Lucinda Luetkemeyer, general counsel in the governor’s office, that Watkins received about eight hours before the KMOV story.
Watkins, the attorney for the ex-husband of the woman involved in the affair, questioned the appropriateness of an attorney on the state payroll calling him about matters Greitens himself has described as private and personal.
“She was clearly calling me trying to facilitate damage control,” Watkins said of Luetkemeyer. “If it’s a private and personal matter, why is your counsel calling?”
Watkins said he turned over several hours of new audio recordings between the woman and her ex-husband to Gardner’s office. He declined to discuss what was on the audio but called it “graphic.”
Watkins said those tapes also were provided to the FBI. The FBI has not confirmed if a federal investigation is under way.
Luetkemeyer in an email statement said that her office had heard Watkins was “shopping around” a story about Greitens but that she didn’t know whether the story involved the governor’s personal life or pertained to his official duties.
Luetkemeyer said she left her office to call Watkins and used her personal cellphone.
“Following the call, I referred the matter to the Governor’s personal counsel, and advised our official press office that further comment related to this issue should be handled by the Governor’s personal counsel,” Luetkemeyer said.
Greitens is paying his own legal fees, Bennett said.
Watkins said Luetkemeyer first called from her cellphone to his cellphone. The reception was bad so he asked her to call back to his landline. During the few minutes between calls, he decided to record. Missouri law generally permits audio recordings without the consent of both sides of a conversation.
On the recording, Luetkemeyer asks, “Is your client talking to anyone in the media right now?”
Watkins told her he and the ex-husband were not promoting the story but had been contacted by several media outlets, including national news organizations.
“Do you know of an outlet that is going to go live with this soon?” Luetkemeyer asks.
Watkins said he didn’t, but said there was a “fevered pitch out there” among media.
Walker said Luetkemeyer’s call to Watkins factored in his decision to urge Greitens to resign.
ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — Multiple Republican women today are calling on Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to resign, after admitting to having an extramarital affair.
State Representative Marsha Haefner, of South County, says, “I find no pleasure in saying this, but I believe Governor Greitens is no longer fit to hold Missouri’s public office.”
She says Greitens already faced questions about dark money and his use a self-destructing texting app. But, Haefner says a criminal investigation into allegations of attempted blackmail is too much.
The governor denies allegations he took a photo of the woman in a compromising position to try and blackmail her.
State Representative Kathie Conway, of St. Charles County, also says the governor should consider resigning.
“As a Republican woman, I think it’s important that we police our own, as well,” she says.
Conway joined KMOX’s Charlie Brennan Tuesday morning.
“If we’re going to be the party of family values, then we have to stand for family values,” she says.