Beware of Eric Greitens

A charismatic outsider won upset victories in the Republican primary and general election for the Missouri governor’s office in 2016 on Donald Trump’s coattails. A Rhodes Scholar, Navy SEAL, best-selling author, and impresario of philanthropies to aid veterans, Missouri’s new governor was a character out of a MAGA dream.

A little more than a year into his term, the governor was pressured to resign in a plea bargain having to do with allegations of tawdry sexual misconduct and threats to silence his mistress. The prosecutor in the case, the elected circuit attorney of the city of St. Louis, is an odious, corrupt, incompetent far-Left ideologue who has been bought and paid for by George Soros

This prosecutor, Kim Gardner, has faced judicial sanctions for prosecutorial misconduct both in the case involving the former governor and in the made-for-TV case of Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple whom Gardner indicted on felony charges for exercising their Second Amendment rights to bear arms defending their home against rioters last summer.

The ousted governor always has maintained that he is the victim of a partisan witch hunt. Desiring vindication and confident in his base of voters that never abandoned him, he is sending signals that he may run in next year’s primary against longtime Republican U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, a fixture of the Mitch McConnell machine and pillar of the pre-Trump Republican establishment.

It sounds like a no-brainer for Missouri Trump supporters to rally around the former governor, right?

Wrong.

Egregious Dishonesty, Charges of Blackmail

The public figure in question is Eric Greitens, a man whose traits resemble those of a classic sociopath.

Greitens wants Missouri Republicans to believe that the cause of his forced resignation was partisan Democratic prosecutorial action, marred by serious official misconduct and incompetence, by the Soros-backed St. Louis circuit attorney. That is far from the whole truth.

The truth is that Greitens’ dishonesty and malfeasance were so egregious that he was forced from office at the demand of nearly all members of the Republican supermajorities in the state House and Senate. A respected Republican state representative who had been one of Greitens’ earliest and most influential supporters in the 2016 primary led a select committee investigating charges of sex-related blackmail

Had Greitens not resigned, a nearly unanimous, bipartisan state legislature would have supported his impeachment and removal from office. The evidence of Greitens’ dishonesty and unfitness for office had become so overwhelming that all of Missouri’s statewide Republican officeholders in the state capital had called on him to quit.

This was no partisan witch hunt. These officeholders had no appetite for demanding the resignation of the governor from their own party, particularly when the governor was still popular with grassroots voters who did not have personal and official experience with the governor’s treachery. Say whatever else you will about these officials, but their moves against Greitens were actions of integrity and honor to their constitutional oaths.

One of these statewide officials was Josh Hawley, then the Missouri attorney general and already the leading Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate against one of the cleverest scoundrels ever to serve in that body, Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill. Hawley pronounced Greitens’ misconduct as “certainly impeachable.”

Hawley demanded that Greitens resign when it clearly was not in Hawley’s narrow or near-term political advantage to do so. Greitens had, and still has today, diehard supporters and a well-funded propaganda machine. Hawley defeated McCaskill because of heavy lifting by Donald Trump, helping him make up for the loss of some diehard Greitens defenders who no doubt refused to vote for Hawley in 2018.

If Greitens returns to Missouri electoral politics to run for senate or any other office, his campaign will involve an implicit if not an explicit attack on Hawley’s political future as well as that of any other responsible Missouri officeholder who had demanded Greitens’ removal from the governor’s office.

Big Promises, No Delivery

Even if Greitens had not committed impeachable offenses, he proved to be a disastrous failure as governor. He spent much of his time in office accusing Republican legislators across the board—without evidence—of being “corrupt.” He delivered almost nothing of his promising 2016 policy agenda.

On the eve of Greitens’ resignation, I attended a MAGA-type grassroots event in conservative St. Charles County, the sprawling exurbs of metropolitan St. Louis. This county holds the state’s biggest bloc of Republican votes. It was a small gathering, and big-dollar donors and corporate lobbyists were conspicuously absent, but the county executive was present. This man, Steve Ehlmann, is one of Missouri’s most thoughtful and capable public officials. A former high school history teacher, he has served in all three constitutional branches of government—as a state judge, a state senator, and as elected county executive of the most prosperous and well-governed county in the state.

I knew Ehlmann well enough to ask him directly: “What is your relationship with Governor Greitens?”

“I’ve never met him,” he replied.

“Are you kidding?”

“No, I’m not kidding.”

The county executive is not a smart aleck.

“He’s never met you here in St. Charles, never invited you to the governor’s office?”

“No.”

“But . . . but . . . he never could have been elected governor without the Republican votes of your county.”

“Yes, yes, of course, I know that.”

If one asks Missouri Republican legislators and county officials across the state, one will hear dozens of such reports of Greitens’ narcissism, incompetence, and contempt for the voters and his policy promises.

Eric Greitens is not a victim. The fact that one of the numerous official proceedings against his misconduct was tainted by the St. Louis prosecutor’s incompetence and George Soros’ political power simply confirms that Greitens had good fortune in some of his enemies.

Missourians and others who care about integrity in the Republican Party and the conservative movement should read the whole report of the bipartisan legislative committee that investigated Greitens.

Should Roy Blunt serve another term in the U.S. Senate?

Arguably, he should retire and leave the field to younger leaders better in tune with Republican voters who yearn for more of the anti-establishment, swamp-draining reforms that Donald Trump’s movement represents.

But if it happens that Missouri Republican voters have a choice of either Roy Blunt or Eric Greitens in next year’s primary, Blunt would deserve to win unanimously. That is how deceitful and dangerous Eric Greitens is.

About Joseph Duggan

Joseph Duggan is the author of Khashoggi, Dynasties, and Double Standards (Encounter). He is a former White House speechwriter for President George H. W. Bush and a former Reagan State Department appointee, as well as an international business and public affairs consultant. He lives in St. Louis.

Photo: Michael Thomas/ Getty Images

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