The ex-wife of Eric Greitens, a leading Republican candidate for the US Senate from Missouri, has accused him of physically assaulting her and one of their sons in a sworn affidavit that could have serious consequences. implications in the race for the seat of Senator Roy Blunt, who is retiring.
Mr Greitens, whose campaign denied the allegations on Monday, abruptly resigned as governor in 2018 amid a swirling scandal involving a sexual relationship with his former hairdresser and allegations that he took an explicit photo of her without her permission. He was also accused by prosecutors of using his charity’s donor list for political purposes.
But until the latest revelation, his bid for a political comeback had seemed an unlikely success, despite efforts by the Missouri Republican establishment to block it. Mr. Greitens, 47, a former Navy SEAL, had aligned himself squarely with former President Donald J. Trump, encouraged anti-vaccine and anti-mask protesters and took the lead in a crowded Republican primary race for a key seat in the Senate. .
He now faces further calls from opponents to drop out lest he become a reliable red seat in November.
Representative Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, who is running against Mr. Greitens in the Republican primary and has won the support of many senior state officials, released a statement accusing Mr. Greitens of “criminal behavior that incapacitates Eric to hold public office”. .”
“He should drop out of the U.S. Senate race immediately,” she said.
Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, who as state attorney general in 2018 pressed Mr. Greitens to resign as governor, wrote on Twitter“If you hit a woman or a child, you belong in handcuffs, not the United States Senate.”
In an ongoing custody dispute, the sworn affidavit of Sheena Chestnut Greitens, 39, a professor of public policy at the University of Texas at Austin, accused Mr. Greitens of physical abuse and “unstable and coercive behavior”. The 41-page affidavit, filed in Boone County Circuit Court in Missouri on Monday, said Mr Greitens became increasingly violent in 2018 as his sex scandal threatened to end a political rise once promising that he hoped would lead him to the White Loger.
“Before our divorce, during an argument in late April 2018, Eric ran over me and confiscated my cell phone, wallet and keys so I couldn’t call for help or extricate myself and our children. of our home,” Dr. Greitens wrote. , who has two young sons with Mr. Greitens and whose divorce from him became final in May 2020.
She added that his “behaviour included physical abuse of our children, such as handcuffing our then 3-year-old son across the face at the table in front of me and pulling him by the hair”.
In a statement on Monday, Mr Greitens’ campaign denied the allegations and said they were politically motivated. The statement said Dr Greitens was “engaged in a last-ditch attempt at the vindictive destruction of her ex-husband”.
Mr Greitens then issued a personal statement saying he would continue to ‘fight for the truth and against completely fabricated and baseless allegations’.
A lawyer for Dr. Greitens did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.
Mr. Greitens’ lead in the polls has baffled other Republicans in Missouri, given that the 2018 investigation of Mr. Greitens was led by Republicans and a looming impeachment case is believed to have been led by the Republican-controlled legislature.
In 2018 Mr Greitens’ former hairstylist described an alarming sexual encounter in which she said he took a photo of her and threatened to share it if she spoke to whom be it their affair.
In his affidavit, Dr Greitens said her husband bought a gun but refused to tell her where he hid it. She said he threatened to kill himself ‘unless I gave him specific public political support’, despite accusations of infidelity she said she admitted to, even though she said he did. had threatened legal action if she revealed these confessions.
Mr. Greitens is one of several Trump-aligned Republican candidates who have raised concerns among key party leaders in Washington, although the former president has yet to endorse anyone in the Missouri race.
In November, Sean Parnell, a Trump-endorsed candidate for the Pennsylvania Senate seat vacated by Patrick J. Toomey, a Republican, dropped out of that contest after a judge ruled in favor of his estranged wife in a fight. for custody which also involved allegations. of abuse.
In December, another Trump-backed Senate candidate, former professional soccer player Herschel Walker, who is running in Georgia, told Axios he was “responsible” for past violent behavior toward his estranged wife, Cindy Grossman. However, his campaign said he has always denied accusations from two other women who said he displayed threatening behavior towards them.
Hannah Norton contributed reporting.