Greitens’ allegations spark Republican criticism, calls to quit
New allegations of abuse against former Governor Eric Greitens, a US Senate candidate in Missouri, have drawn fresh criticism from his opponents, many of whom have called on him to drop out of the race.
The allegations stem from an affidavit from his ex-wife Sheena Greitens filed in their ongoing child custody case in Missouri. She alleges the former governor was physically abusive towards her and one of their sons, who was 3 at the time, the Associated Press reported. The charges come years after Greitens resigned as governor amid allegations of sexual misconduct and blackmail involving his hairstylist and a House investigation into his campaign finances.
Greitens emerged as one of the leading candidates in a crowded Republican field to succeed retired U.S. Senator Roy Blunt. His main opponents are Attorney General Eric Schmitt, U.S. Representatives Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long, Mark McCloskey and Senate Pro Tem Chairman Dave Schatz.
A lawyer for Greitens said in a statement to The Washington Post that “this attack is nothing more than a sad attempt to force a father to surrender custody of his children to a deranged individual.”
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Opponents cited the news as a reason for Greitens to step down.
“I am extremely disturbed by the new allegations of abuse by Eric Greitens by his ex-wife,” Hartzler said in a statement. “This is a pattern of criminal behavior that makes Eric unfit to hold public office.
“He should drop out of the U.S. Senate race immediately and seek immediate professional help.”
Hartzler, the only woman in the Republican field, has been a vocal opponent of Greitens so far in the campaign. She posted an early ad pointing to earlier allegations against him, saying “when I see a hairdresser, I make an appointment.” After formally filing for election in February, she told reporters she would not vote for Greitens if he won the Republican nomination.
“Real men never abuse women and children, period,” Hartzler said in a video posted on social media. “End of the story.”
Schatz too appeals to Greitens to “immediately end his campaign”, saying the allegations show “a long series of abuse against his wife and children”.
Lucas Kunce, a U.S. Navy veteran who currently leads the Democratic Senate camp, wrote on social media that Greitens “belongs in jail” and urged donations to his campaign to “turn this seat around.”
“He should be in a jail cell, not in the US Senate,” Kunce said.
Kunce is running against former state senator Scott Sifton, Spencer Toder, Jewel Kelly, Gena Ross and Tim Shepard for the Democratic nomination.
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Republican candidate Schmitt made similar comments on Twitter, calling the allegations “disgusting and sickening.”
“As Missouri’s attorney general, I know a predator when I see one, and I’ve fought for victims every step of the way,” Schmitt said, calling on Greitens to “immediately end his campaign.” .
The allegations against Greitens have also drawn criticism from elected Republicans at the state level. Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden of Columbia called the former governor “a fake failed politician and a terrible human being.”
“Real men don’t abuse their wives”, Rowden wrote. “Real men don’t abuse their children. Eric Greitens is not a real man.”
Austin Chambers, who led Greitens’ 2016 gubernatorial campaign, wrote that the allegations were “disgusting, but unfortunately not surprising”.
“(Sheena Greitens) is one of the strongest, smartest, best people I know,” he wrote. “Proud to call her a friend, I hate that she and her family have suffered from this horrific abuse and continue to suffer from the publicity of it today.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.