I attended a “watch party” last night for the “State of the State” address delivered by Missouri Governor Eric Greitens. I have to acknowledge at the outset that I was not a supporter of Greitens’ candidacy. However, overall, I’ve been pleased with his first year in office. Certainly, I’ve not had any major gripes with him, though I do have some concerns regarding the purported use by Greitens and his staff of “Confide” — a texting app which destroys text messages after they have been read — and concur with the decision by our Attorney General, Josh Hawley, to investigate.

The address itself was fine, though no barn burner. It was pretty standard GOP stuff, citing recent successes and outlining his agenda for 2018, most of which I agreed with.

So imagine my surprise when I awoke this morning to see this headline:

Greitens admits affair, but denies allegation he blackmailed woman with photo

Whoops! Where the heck did that come from?! KMOV4 broke the story last night on its 10:00 pm news:

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) — Governor Eric Greitens on Wednesday night confirmed to News 4 he had an extramarital affair, an admission a months-long News 4 investigation prompted.

In a recording obtained by News 4, a woman says she had a sexual encounter with Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and that he tried to blackmail her to keep the encounter quiet.

The details were provided to News 4 by the woman’s ex-husband, claiming the sexual relationship happened between his now ex-wife and Greitens in March 2015. News 4 is not naming the woman and she has not made an on-the-record comment about the story.

It is unclear what prompted the publication of the story last night. Given the timing, it certainly managed to step on any message from his State of the State address, though I question whether/how that could be the motivation.  The KMOV story alludes to the fact that there appears to have been some uptick in interest in the story recently, at least according to the ex-husband:

The man says he didn’t want to speak out before, but says recently, he’s been contacted by law enforcement authorities and members of the media. He says he wanted to get in front of a story he believed would come out eventually and he wants to protect his family.

“Something happened, churned this, and had people hounding me, even leaving a voicemail on my daughter’s phone – when that happened, everything changed,” said the ex-husband.

Based on that, it would appear something/someone else is driving this. At this point, it isn’t clear who and/or why.

Greitens and his wife have issued a joint statement in response to the news report:

“A few years ago, before Eric was elected Governor, there was a time when he was unfaithful in our marriage. This was a deeply personal mistake. Eric took responsibility, and we dealt with this together honestly and privately. While we never would have wished for this pain in our marriage, or the pain that this has caused others, with God’s mercy Sheena has forgiven and we have emerged stronger. He understand that there will be some people who cannot forgive — but for those who can find it in your heart, Eric asks for your forgiveness, and we are grateful for your love, your compassion, and your prayers.”

Sheena Greitens also issued a separate statement:

“We have a loving marriage and an awesome family; anything beyond that is between us and God. I want the media and those who wish to peddle gossip to stay away from me and my children.”

Their attorney also issued a statement categorically denying the claims of blackmail:

“There was no blackmail, and that claim is false,” Bennett said. “This personal matter has been addressed by the Governor and Mrs. Greitens privately years ago when it happened. The outrageous claims of improper conduct regarding these almost three-year-ago events are false.”

Of course, some of Greitens’ political foes wasted no time in calling for his resignation:

The sting of this story, of course, lies not in the admission of the affair — though that is troubling in its own right — but in the allegation that Greitens photographed the woman without her consent and used the threat of its publication to ensure her silence on the matter.  It must be emphasized that, at this point, that allegation is uncorroborated — and flatly denied by Greitens.

As noted by the Riverfront Times (which is hardly a bastion of conservative sentiment):

Reasonable people can disagree about whether adultery is newsworthy. But you’d think we all could agree that an ex-husband should never, ever get to speak for the woman who left him. Even if she cheated. Even if she felt intimidated by a politician’s actions during their first hookup. It’s not for her ex to decide whether the intimate details she told him in a moment of crisis are grist for the rest of us.

If Greitens’ ex-lover wants to tell her story, to law enforcement or to the media, that’s up to her. But until that happens, I’d argue we should all look away. No more pretending to feel sympathy for Sheena Greitens, no more clucking sadly for the poor first children. I know it’s hard to give up the moral high ground, but by giving the floor to a spurned husband, KMOV lost it.

The RFT article pulls no punches and includes an interesting take, particularly given the political leanings generally expressed in that publication.

My own take away at present is, “What a bleepin’ mess.”  It’s probably too much to hope that this sordid tale won’t distract from some of the positive strides Missourians were hoping to take with a legislature and Governor who were seemingly on the same page.