Politics & Government

How did the Greitens allegations become public? Former couple in case differ

Highlights from investigative report on Missouri Governor Greitens

A special House committee on April 11, 2018, released its report on Gov. Eric Greitens and his 2015 affair with his St. Louis hairdresser.
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A special House committee on April 11, 2018, released its report on Gov. Eric Greitens and his 2015 affair with his St. Louis hairdresser.

The ex-husband of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ alleged victim told a legislative committee that he feared for his life and that a legal fund was set up for him after he was contacted by reporters and at least one lawmaker.

However, the alleged victim told lawmakers that her former husband had threatened as far back as 2015 to expose the details of her affair with Greitens and allegations that he abused her and photographed her without consent.

Despite the man’s claims of reluctance to go public, his ex-wife told lawmakers that the day after their conversation about Greitens, “he kept saying, I’m going to ruin this guy, I’m going to ruin this guy.”

The man’s decision to go public with the allegations against Greitens in early January has rocked Missouri politics, leading to a criminal trial and a legislative investigation that could force the governor from office less than two years into his governorship.

The former couple gave similar accounts about Greitens’ behavior, but their explanations of how the alleged behavior became public knowledge — potentially ending the career of a rising Republican star— are wildly different.

This was either a father reluctantly coming forward out of fear for his life and concern for his kids, or it was an ex-husband seeking revenge on his ex-wife and the man he blamed for the breakup of their marriage.

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Someone agreed to help pay the man’s legal bills before his decision to go public. The identity of this anonymous benefactor was not revealed during the man’s testimony last month before a special committee of lawmakers.

In his newly released testimony, the man said that he initially shared with his attorney a recording of his ex-wife speaking about her affair with the governor in case he was killed.

“So the first thing I told my attorney was, ‘I need a lawyer, somebody in the law, to have this recording in case I turn up dead so you guys know who to go after.’ I’m just telling you the exact words I said to this man,” he told lawmakers, according to a transcript of his testimony.

The man testified that he shared the recording with his attorney after he had been contacted by a lawmaker about the allegations against Greitens. The recording was made without his then-wife’s knowledge and released to the media this year without her consent.

“I said, ‘I don’t want this to go anywhere. I’ve already been contacted by somebody that knows the rumors.’ People had contacted me and — a representative, actually — a politician guy … we had mutual friends. He contacted me and everything, and I realized this is a political game; I want nothing to do with this,” he said.

The woman testified that during Greitens’ run for governor, her ex-husband would send her texts, telling her, “You have coming to you what you deserve. I can’t believe people don’t see behind, you know, what you’ve done. … If this POS gets into office, this is absolutely insane, he doesn’t deserve this, just wait.”

She also testified that her affair with Greitens was not the only reason for the couple’s divorce. Her ex-husband also admitted to sleeping with five other women during their separation.

Greitens refused to testify before the committee ahead of his May 14 trial in St. Louis. The ex-husband filed a request for a protective order against the governor last month, citing Greitens’ Navy SEAL training.

During a news conference ahead of its release, he repeatedly referred to the legislative investigation as a “political witch hunt” and blasted lawmakers for not waiting until the conclusion of his May trial.

Greitens called the witnesses liars and said that they have faced “no consequences for telling lies.”

The ex-husband told the committee that people would periodically contact him about the allegations but that in November or December of last year he began receiving multiple messages a day from media outlets.

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“Some national, international publications, some small — a whole bunch that I couldn’t keep track of, and I didn’t want anything to do with it. But something had happened with a rumor or the story had gotten into the wrong hands and it was going somewhere,” he told the committee.

His ex-wife testified that no one from the media or political world came to ask to her about the allegations until after the election.

“I had multiple people tell me that (Attorney General Chris) Koster’s campaign (for governor) had the information but decided not to use it,” she testified.

She said that the first time she was contacted by a reporter was in December when a television reporter using a fake name booked an appointment at the salon where she worked.

“And I just started crying. I said, 'No. No, you do not understand how traumatic this whole thing is. I cannot go there. My ex-husband is so, so vindictive, he wants to hurt me so bad,' ” she said, according to the transcript.

The man said that he decided to go public with the information only after his daughter received a voicemail from a reporter.

The woman also disputed her ex-husband’s assertion that he only came forward after his daughter received a phone call. She said that it was her daughter from a previous relationship who had received a call and that she thought it was intended for a neighbor.

Rep. Don Phillips, a Kimberling City Republican, asked the ex-husband if he had ever received compensation for disclosing the allegations.

He revealed that a trust to cover legal fees had been set up on his behalf after he spoke to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but before the allegations had been widely reported. He made it clear the Post-Dispatch did not give him any compensation.

Here's what it would take to impeach the Missouri governor.

“My lawyer has a trust account that someone put something in after speaking to the Post-Dispatch, to cover lawyer fees and all the things that were about to happen me financially because of this fallout, but I had spent 15,000 or so dollars of my own prior to all of this, trying to keep all of this quiet, and everything exploded underneath me,” he testified.

“And while I was talking to the Post, someone contacted my lawyer and said he was going to help with legal fees.”

The man's attorney, Al Watkins, disputed a footnote in the report about someone paying legal fees for his client in an email Wednesday evening, but noted he didn't have access to the full transcript. "I can state the report is erroneous. I was present at the time of the testimony of my client," he said.

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The transcript shows Watkins interjected shortly after his client mentioned the trust.

Watkins stated that he would not allow his client "to compromise the integrity of his rights as a client with an attorney" with respect to his finances, according to the transcript.

A few pages later in the transcript, the ex-husband raises the possibility that the money in the trust could go to his children. He did not reveal the source of the money.

“Yeah. Legal fees and if — who knows. If something was given or whatever, this is going into a trust for my children. I want nothing. I don’t want any of this,” he said.

Watkins announced the formation of a legal fund on Tuesday, ahead of the report's publication.

“Money can be given anonymously or provided in the name or honor of third parties or disclosed givers or even dogs,” Watkins said in the release, which referred to Greitens as the “not yet former Governor.”

Watkins said that he would accept recyclable bottles and that any excess money would go toward beer and other party supplies. He said that “in keeping with the Governor’s established protocol, those who give will not be disclosed.”

Greitens has repeatedly faced questions about who would be paying for his legal bills since the allegations became public.

The governor cannot use state funds to defend himself in the St. Louis trial because the indictment stems from an alleged incident that took place before he became governor and is unrelated to his official duties.

Supporters of the governor established a legal defense fund last month. The ERG Defense Fund was formed as a “527” organization, which means that it can raise unlimited funds from individuals, corporations and unions but that it also must disclose its finances to the IRS.

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