A local prosecutor on Thursday launched a formal investigation into allegations that Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) blackmailed a woman with whom he was having an affair. The FBI is also said to be looking into the case.
Greitens has strongly denied the blackmail allegation.
“The serious allegations against Missouri Governor Eric Greitens are very troubling,” St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said in a statement. “After further consideration, I have decided to launch a formal investigation into the alleged actions of Governor Greitens.”
The Circuit Attorney is the chief prosecutor for state-level crimes committed in St. Louis.
Al Watkins, a lawyer for the woman’s ex-husband, also said he’d been in touch with the FBI about the matter.
“I have been receiving ongoing consistent contact from a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigations,” Watkins told TPM Thursday afternoon, saying he first heard from the bureau in October 2016.
Rebecca Wu of the FBI’s St. Louis office told TPM that she could not comment on the existence or status of an ongoing federal investigation.
Greitens is accused of taking a nude photograph of the woman against her consent in order to keep her from going public about their months-long 2015 affair. Additionally, TPM reported that Greitens slapped the woman when she told him she had slept with her then-husband.
Greitens has admitted to the affair but, through his lawyer, Jim Bennett, has adamantly denied both the blackmail and the slapping.
Bennett told TPM that he had not been contacted by law enforcement.
“We firmly believe that the Governor will be exonerated in any investigation,” Bennett said in an email to TPM. “As we confirmed today, the allegations are being stirred up for partisan reasons.”
Roy Temple, a former state Democratic Party chair, told TPM that the woman’s ex-husband had told him about the slap in 2016.
The woman’s ex-husband provided local CBS affiliate KMOV with a recording he had made of his conversation with his then-wife about the photograph episode.
Watkins said the circuit attorney’s office was seeking seeking copies of the tape recordings and other evidence. He said they also were looking to interview the ex-husband. Watkins added that his client has not been interviewed by any law enforcement body.
Watkins said the call from the attorney’s office came just before 5 p.m. Thursday. Not long after, Gardner announced the probe.
This post has been updated.