Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, a former Democrat and political newcomer, was looking at what seemed the sure end of his career until a St. Louis prosecutor stepped in and unwittingly threw him a lifeline.
The political nightmare began for the former Navy SEAL in January 2018 when News 4 KMOV in St. Louis ran a series about an affair Greitens had with a St. Louis woman in 2015.
News of the affair was the least of the governor's problems. On a recording made surreptitiously by her husband, the woman claimed that Greitens tried to blackmail her to keep the encounter quiet.
KMOV played the recording. It wasn't pretty:
Ex-Husband: Tell me the truth. The truth. Only the truth.
TRENDING: Snake handler
Woman: So, on Saturday morning, before my first client, I did go to his house.
Ex-Husband: For the first time?
Woman: For the first time. Ever. Like I said, nothing, period, had ever happened or taken place until this snowball. This (expletive) tornado just happened. I know I brought this on.
The woman confessed that she was responsible for making the first move.
"I met Eric a year ago, and I instantly had a big crush on him," she told her husband. She conceded their interaction was consensual but kinky.
Greitens allegedly led the woman down to his gym. "He used some sort of tape, I don't what it was, and taped my hands to these rings and then put a blindfold on me."
Now here seemed to be the career ender: "He stepped back. I saw a flash through the blindfold and he said, 'You're never going to mention my name or there will be pictures of [the woman] everywhere.'"
The woman says Greiten apologized, and they had other encounters after this.
"He took a picture of my wife naked as blackmail," the ex-husband told News 4. "There is no worse person. I think it's as bad as it gets. It's as bad as it gets when someone takes advantage of something."
Then the prosecutor, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, came to Greitens's rescue. She filed criminal charges against him, claiming that Greitens criminally invaded the woman's privacy.
"The defendant knowingly photographed K.S. in a state of full or partial nudity without the knowledge or consent of K.S. and in a place where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy," read the charge against Greitens.
The charge continued, "and the defendant subsequently transmitted the image contained in the photograph in a manner that allowed access to the image via a computer."
To Show-Me Staters the phrase "reasonable expectation of privacy" seemed almost comical when applied to a woman who allowed herself to be bound and blindfolded nude.
As troubled as they were by Greiten's behavior, Missouri Republicans understood that Gardner, a Soros-funded Democrat, was less interested in justice than in political revenge.
Said State Rep. Paul Curtman, speaking for many of his colleagues, "When we mix politics into the administration of the law, we violate our country's oldest and most sacred traditions."
So contrived is the case against Greitens, Dave Grossman argues in the Federalist, that Gardner "could be the one who ends up in jail."
Writes Grossman of Gardner, "She has no victim, very little evidence, no legal standing – and given all that, almost no hope of conviction."
Most critically, the prosecution has yet to produce the photograph at the heart of the accusation. Although Greitens has confessed publicly to the affair, he denies the blackmail charge.
In his detailed article, Grossman cites one fact after another that together suggests "a seemingly malicious and reckless prosecution driven by politics, ignorance and ego, rather than a pursuit of justice."
According to Grossman, Gardner appears to have begun preparing the indictment before she began the investigation. She then circumvented the St. Louis police by enlisting out-of-state PIs as well a Harvard-based defense attorney whose very hiring by a prosecutor may be criminal.
Said Curtman, who filed a complaint against Gardner, "What we have here is an abuse of a prosecutor's enormous power. This in and of itself is a miscarriage of justice."
Without intending, Gardner has turned Greitens into a victim. For him going forward, every win is a win, and so is every loss.