Greitens’ most critical test

January 14, 2018

Wednesday night the plan was simple. The research was done, the rough draft was written and with some tightening up on Thursday evening another column would be off to press.

Then came Thursday morning and the “Governor Greitens admits to having an extramarital affair” coming out of the truck radio. That draft was going to stay rough for a while longer.

My immediate thoughts were “another politician, another affair, hypocrisy as usual”.

But then I read the Paul Harvey “rest of the story”.

A tale of something more than the just another extramarital affair. A story more a mixed chapter from 50 Shades of Gray and a David Letterman blackmail skit.

Published on St. Louis’ KMOV News 4 website was the transcription from a tape recording between the governor’s mistress and her now ex husband:

She went on to say that some of his actions-scared her.

Woman:  “I didn’t even know. I feel like I don’t even know. I was just numb. I just stood there and didn’t (expletive) know.”

She went on, describing what Greitens allegedly did next that made her feel sick.

Woman: “He stepped back, I saw a flash through the blindfold and he said: “you’re never going to mention my name, otherwise there will be pictures of me everywhere.”

And then there’s the perfunctory statement of blame from Greitens attorney James Bennett:

“……..The latest reporting has finally disclosed that the reporting was being driven by a “source” who is the former Democrat state party chairman and who apparently has not spoken to the person in question. This goes a long way to explaining what is going on – this is a political hit piece.

This is and remains an almost three-year-old private matter with no matter of public interest at stake……”

Followed up of course by the oh so convenient statement by an all too eager for her own publicity St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner:

“The serious allegations against Missouri Governor Eric Greitens are very troubling.  After further consideration, I have decided to launch a formal investigation into the alleged actions of Governor Greitens.

It is essential for residents of the City of St. Louis and our state to have confidence in their leaders.  They must know that the Office of the Circuit Attorney will hold public officials accountable in the same manner as any other resident of our city. Both parties and the people of St. Louis deserve a thorough investigation of these allegations.

If anyone has any information related to this matter, I encourage them to contact my office immediately.”

Never let a crisis go to waste eh Ms. Gardner? Yes, the public deserves a thorough investigation; A bi-partisan, non-political one. The last thing the public needs at this time is an opportunistic dirt dig from within the bowels of St. Louis City government.

If the story was of just marital infidelity Mr. Bennett’s “private matter with no matter of public interest at stake” might carry some weight. But it’s not just about infidelity, it’s about whether or not the sitting governor of this state threatened to blackmail his mistress.

And that is a matter of the highest public interest.

Governor Greitens has, at least regarding the affair, admitted publicly that he’s as human as any of us, complete with all the moral failings that go along with it.

But again, it’s not the affair, it’s the pic, the revenge porn side of the tale that is most disturbing.

As a Navy Seal and combat veteran of both Afghanistan and Iraq with a Bronze Star and Purple Heart Mr. Greitens military record is as honorable as they come. The charity he co-founded, The Mission Continues helps returning veterans transition from military to civilian life via serving their communities. He is a Rhodes scholar with a doctorate degree.

Mr. Greitens has already in his 43 years accomplished more for himself and done more for others than most of us will in an entire lifetime.

But the test before the Governor today isn’t about his strength on the battlefield or his compassion for fellow veterans.

No, the test before him today is does he have the strength within to do what so many other politicians can never seem to muster? The strength to do the right thing for the office and the people it serves.

Does the story have all the trappings of a political hit piece? Certainly

Could there be embellishment by the mistress to her then husband to make herself seem more the victim than a consensual partner? Could be.

Should the Governor at least temporarily step aside and allow a thorough, impartial investigation to re-establish public trust? Absolutely

PUBLISHER’s NOTE: A version of this column first appeared in the Sunday print edition of the Joplin Globe.

May 2018
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