Greitens admits to affair, but attorney denies blackmail attempt

Gov. Eric Greitens on Wednesday admitted to engaging in an extramarital affair before he ran for governor, but his attorney denied allegations that Greitens attempted to blackmail the woman with whom he had the affair.

The admission followed a report from KMOV television in St. Louis that Greitens had a sexual relationship with a woman in March 2015, when he was married to his current wife, Sheena Greitens, but before he had declared his candidacy for governor.

News of the affair broke Wednesday night, shortly after Greitens, who is embarking on his second year as governor, delivered his State of the State address. At one point during the speech, the governor gave his wife a special thank you for her work to improve foster care in the state.

Details of the 2015 affair were provided by the ex-husband of the woman with whom Greitens had the relationship. The man recorded conversations with his then-wife just days after her first sexual encounter with Greitens, according to KMOV. The report did not identify the man or the woman, and the woman has not commented to KMOV on the record.

Greitens also reportedly photographed the woman during a sexual encounter, saying he would leak the photo if she ever went public with the affair. But the woman said Greitens later apologized and told her he had deleted the image, according to KMOV.

Greitens’ attorney, James F. Bennett, issued a statement denying the blackmail allegation. It was posted on the governor’s Twitter account early Thursday morning.

Eric and Sheena Greitens released a joint statement. It was posted on the governor’s Twitter account early Thursday:

Sheena Greitens also released a separate statement. It was posted on her husband’s Twitter account early Thursday:

During his campaign for governor and his first year in office, Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL and nonprofit leader, has trumpeted his military and professional experience, his standing as a political outsider and the fact that he is a husband and father.

Greitens, 43, has been identified by some as a rising star in the Republican party, and his travels overseas, to Washington and to meet with big-money GOP backers over the last year would seem to suggest he harbors ambitions grander than the governorship.

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