MO Gov Accused Of Blackmail Dropped From Ads, Cancels Statewide Tax Tour

January 16, 2018 11:58 a.m.

The fallout continued over the weekend for Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who’s been accused of slapping and blackmailing a woman with whom he had an affair.

Greitens, a Republican, announced that he had canceled a planned statewide tour to promote his tax overhaul plan. And the governor was removed from ads being run by two political allies.

The tour, which was scheduled to kick off Tuesday, would have been Greitens’ first public appearance since the scandal broke late last Wednesday.

Greitens’ spokesperson Parker Briden said in a statement provided to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the tour would be rescheduled. But Eventbrite pages boosting the events have been pulled and no new dates have yet been announced. Briden told the newspaper that the governor would still release details of his tax plan this week.

The governor’s image has also been scrubbed from ads boosting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the reelection campaign of Gov. Bruce Rauner of neighboring Illinois, a fellow Republican.

Rauner campaign spokeswoman Kristen Kukowski confirmed to the Chicago Tribune that an ad which featured Greitens and other Midwestern GOP governors was pulled after the blackmail story broke. In the ad, the governors mockingly thanked a top Illinois Democrat for helping create jobs in their own states by incentivizing businesses to leave Illinois. Kukowski said the spot was simply swapped out to make way for the release of a new campaign ad.

ABC’s mid-Missouri affiliate KMIZ reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ad has erased Greitens’ image from an advertisement that will start running this week. The report did not expand on the content of the ad.

A Missouri prosecutor has opened a criminal investigation into Greitens’ actions, which allegedly involve taking a compromising nude photo of the woman with whom he carried out a 2015 extramarital affair to keep her from going public. TPM additionally reported Thursday that the woman’s husband has said she told Greitens slapped her after she told Greitens she had had sex with her husband. Greitens has denied both the blackmail and slapping claims.

The ex-husband, who helped break the story of the blackmail attempt by providing local publications with tapes he recorded in which the woman describes her encounters with Greitens, has declined to be named publicly, as has the woman.

The governor has kept his head down since the story broke, privately trying to mitigate the damage in calls to donors and Missouri state lawmakers in which he affirmed his desire to stay in office.

The Republican Jewish Coalition has announced that it is up to Greitens, who is Jewish, to decide if he still wants to to speak at their annual convention in Las Vegas in mid-February. The group called the governor “family” and offering him their “thoughts and prayers.”

Greitens has also not publicly committed to attending the annual meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington, D.C., which is scheduled for Feb. 23-25.

Al Watkins, the lawyer for the woman’s ex-husband, has alleged that Greitens’ team may have used taxpayer resources to try to get ahead of the story. Watkins provided the Post-Dispatch with a recording of a call he received last Wednesday from an attorney in Greitens’ office trying to obtain information about the emerging story.

The attorney, Lucinda Luetkemeyer, told the newspaper that she did not know at the time of the call whether the story related to the governor’s personal life or official duties, but that she subsequently referred the matter to Greitens’ private counsel, Jim Bennett. Bennett has said that Greitens is personally funding his own legal team.

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