Despite his tone of persecution, the governor’s troubles are seemingly self-inflicted, and in recent weeks, Greitens’s removal from office had become a foregone conclusion—the question was whether he would go under his own volition or wait to be impeached. While a criminal invasion-of-privacy case related to the affair was dropped earlier this month, the state legislature this month began hearings with an eye toward impeaching him.
The governor resigned hours after a judge ruled that Greitens must give legislators documents related to A New Missouri, an independent nonprofit formed shortly after he took office, to see whether he illegally coordinated with the group.
Greitens took office with what appeared to be an immaculate record: a full-ride scholarship to Duke, where he designed his own major in ethics; a Rhodes Scholarship; a stint in the Navy SEALs, including a Purple Heart and Bronze Star; a prestigious White House fellowship; and the foundation of a nonprofit to aid veterans, along with three inspirational books. There were some warnings—a group of SEALs questioned his career with the unit and his medals—but they were largely ignored. Greitens kept his politics carefully hedged and his options open.
Unsurprisingly, both parties tried to recruit him to run for office in his home state of Missouri. This was just as Greitens had designed it: He’d been telling people since at least college that he wanted to be president, and in 2009—years before he ran for any office—he reserved the URL EricGreitensForPresident.com.
Greitens, long a registered Democrat, made his move in 2015, announcing in a FoxNews.com essay that he was a “conservative Republican,” and proceeding to jump into the race for governor, seeking the GOP nomination. Still, he opted to run largely by separating himself from the state Republican Party, portraying himself as the squeaky-clean, family-values alternative to a corrupt class of career politicians in Jefferson City.
This turned out to be a smart short-term political move, as it carried him to victory, but a deeply ironic and ultimately Pyrrhic strategy. According to the allegations against him, the governor was neither squeaky clean nor especially morally upright. Meanwhile, his campaign rhetoric alienated many Missouri Republicans, who not only did not come to his defense when he came under scrutiny, but were all too happy to move forward with impeachment proceedings.
As he was preparing to declare his candidacy in early 2015, Greitens, who is married with children, began a sexual relationship with a woman he met at a hair salon. Though the relationship began consensually, the woman’s testimony to the legislature showed that things quickly took a darker turn. She said that when she was naked, he bound her and then took a picture and told her, “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.”