Missouri GOP Senate candidate Eric Greitens refuses to step aside after ex-wife alleges abuse

Greitens’ ex-wife claims he was physically abusive and demonstrated “unstable and coercive behavior”

<p>Eric Greitens</p>

Eric Greitens

The ex-wife of former Missouri governor and current leading Senate candidate Eric Greitens accused him of a range of physically abusive and unstable behaviors in newly released court records that could dent his chances of replacing outgoing Senator Roy Blunt.

Mr Greitens has not shown any indication that he plans on exiting the race.

“Prior to our divorce, during an argument in late April 2018, Eric knocked me down and confiscated my cellphone, wallet and keys so that I was unable to call for help or extricate myself and our children from our home,” Sheena Chestnut Grietens, a professor of public policy at the University of Texas, wrote.

Ms Greitens also alleges that Mr Greitens purchased a firearm but refused to reveal where he had hidden it, and was violent towards one of their young children in an incident that involved his “cuffing our then-3-year-old son across the face at the dinner table in front of me and yanking him around by his hair.”

Mr Greitens and his ex-wife are contesting a child custody case in Missouri, which Ms Greitens is attempting to move to Austin due to the circumstances surrounding Mr Greitens’ campaign. Their divorce was finalised two years ago.

Mr Greitens called the allegations against him “completely fabricated” and “baseless”, and told Steve Bannon on Mr Bannon’s talk show that they are part of a Mitch McConnell-led effort to defeat his attempt at a political comeback in the race to replace retiring Missouri Senator Roy Blunt.

Missouri Senator and potential 2024 presidential candidate Josh Hawley, who has endorsed US Rep Vicki Hartzler in the race, tweeted on Monday that “If you hit a woman or a child, you belong in handcuffs, not the United States Senate. It’s time for Eric Greitens to leave this race[.]”

Ms Hartzler also called for Mr Grietens to drop out of the race, while fellow contender and US Representative Billy Long said that Greitens is “clearly unfit” to represent Missouri in the Senate.

Mr Greitens, a St Louis native and former Navy SEAL, was elected Missouri governor in 2016, but resigned that office two years later after he was indicted for felony invasion of privacy for allegedly taking photographs without consent of a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair, and threatening to share them publicly if she did not keep their relationship secret.

The woman alleged that after Mr Greitens led her into the basement of his home and took the photograph, he said, “You’re not going to mention my name. Don’t even mention my name to anybody at all, because if you do, I’m going to take these pictures, and I’m going to put them everywhere I can. They are going to be everywhere, and then everyone will know what a little whore you are.”

The woman also accused Mr Greitens of sexual coercion and violence, and then too, he responded by calling the allegations part of a mission to harm him politically because of his support of Donald Trump.

“This is exactly like what's happening with the witch hunts in Washington DC,” he said.

Mr Greitens was charged with a second felony for allegedly using the mailing list of a veterans charity he founded to fundraise for his gubernatorial campaign, though that charge and the felony invasion of privacy charge were ultimately dropped.

Mr Greitens’ position as a leading Senate contender just four years later has surprised and frightened many in the Republican establishment, who fear that his history could make the safe Republican seat competitive in November. Mr Greitens has led every poll taken of the race in 2022, including a recent poll by more than ten points.

Mr Greitens is not the only Trump-backed Senate candidate to be accused of domestic violence this cycle. Sean Parnell dropped out of the Republican primary for Senate in Pennsylvania last year after allegations made by his estranged wife during a child custody case, while Herschel Walker, running in Georgia, admitted to past violent behavior towards his ex-wife but has continued his campaign.

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