As a fifth Missouri GOP lawmaker called for his resignation, Gov. Eric Greitens (R) remained defiant on Tuesday, saying he’s focused on “moving forward,” and asking supporters for forgiveness for what he described as a “personal mistake.”
In his first extended public response since the news of his affair and alleged blackmail attempt broke last week, Greitens apologized to his family for the relationship and pledged to go “back to work for the people of Missouri.”
“Much has now been written about this, and many of the assertions made have not been truthful and have proven extremely hurtful to Sheena, as well as to me,” Greitens said in a statement emailed to supporters and posted on Facebook. “For us, the allegations that go so far beyond the facts have made this much more difficult.”
“We are focused on moving forward,” the statement continued. “I ask for your forgiveness and hope you can find it in your heart to do so. I assure you that this personal mistake will not deter us from the mission we were sent here to do continued.”
Greitens has admitted to the affair, but denied a claim made by the woman involved, in audiotapes recorded by her husband, that Greitens took a compromising photo of her and threatened to release it if she revealed the affair. He also has denied the woman’s claim, made to her husband, that he slapped her after she told him she’d had sex with her husband.
But the swirling scandal has upended the state legislature and prompted a criminal investigation by the City of St. Louis Circuit Attorney.
On Tuesday evening, State Sen. Rob Schaaf (R) became the fifth Republican lawmaker to call for Greitens’ resignation.
“When you ran for office, you promised that you would be a governor known for ethics and transparency,” Schaaf said in a speech from the floor of the Senate chambers at the State Capitol. “Instead, you have defined yourself through scandal and covering things up.”
“So governor, I’m asking you: please resign,” Schaaf pleaded.
Schaaf is of the governor’s staunchest foes. Earlier this year, a Greitens’-linked dark money group shared Schaaf’s cell phone number to punish him for opposing legislation supported by Greitens.
But four other GOP lawmakers, including one of Greitens’ earliest backers, have also said the governor should step down.
Greitens’ past ethics scandals and failure to develop individual relationships with lawmakers have left him with few outspoken defenders in the GOP-led legislature, TPM has reported.