|56th Governor of Missouri|
January 9, 2017 – June 1, 2018
|Preceded by||Jay Nixon|
|Succeeded by||Mike Parson|
Eric Robert Greitens
April 10, 1974
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
|Political party||Republican (2015–present)|
|Democratic (before 2015)|
Sheena Chestnut (m. 2011)
|Education||Duke University (BA)|
Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford (MPhil, DPhil)
|Branch/service||United States Navy|
|Years of service||2001–2017|
Combat Action Ribbon
Born and raised in St. Louis, Greitens received a doctorate from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, as a Rhodes scholar. During his four tours of duty as a U.S. Navy SEAL officer, he rose to the rank of lieutenant commander, commanded a unit targeting Al-Qaeda, and was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Later, after being a White House Fellow, Greitens founded a nonprofit organization, The Mission Continues, to benefit veterans. Time included him in its list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2013.
Greitens joined the Republican Party in 2015 after having been a Democrat. He ran for Governor of Missouri as a Republican in 2016. After defeating three opponents in the Republican primaries, he faced state Attorney General Chris Koster, whom he defeated in the general election.
One of Greitens's signature accomplishments during his time in office was signing Missouri's right-to-work law, which was later repealed by statewide referendum. His tenure as governor was marred by controversy, including multiple allegations of campaign finance and open records statute violations. In February 2018, Greitens was indicted and arrested on felony invasion of privacy charges relating to alleged actions associated with an affair in which he had engaged prior to becoming governor; the charges were later dropped. On June 1, Greitens resigned from office as the Missouri legislature was considering impeachment.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Governor of Missouri
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Honors and awards
- 6 Publications
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Greitens was born on April 10, 1974, in St. Louis, Missouri, a son of Becky and Rob Greitens. He was raised in his mother's Jewish faith; his father is Catholic. Greitens graduated from Parkway North High School.
Greitens was an Angier B. Duke Scholar at Duke University, where he studied ethics, philosophy, and public policy. While at Duke, he contributed photographs with a joint project of the Save the Children Foundation involving refugees from the Rwandan genocide and the war in Bosnia. Some of his work appeared in the publication Children in War: Community Strategies for Healing.
Before graduating from Duke in 1996, he was selected as a Rhodes and a Truman Scholar. Greitens went on to attend Lady Margaret Hall, a constituent college of the University of Oxford, where he earned a Master's degree in philosophy in development studies in 1998 and a Doctorate in Philosophy in 2000.
Greitens is a former Senior Fellow at the Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri. He has taught public service at the Truman School of Public Affairs and was an adjunct professor of business ethics in the MBA program at the Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis.
Greitens had grown up as a Democrat. In 2015 he wrote a Fox News editorial announcing that he had become a Republican. He said he had been raised in the tradition of Harry Truman and even been recruited as a Democratic candidate for Congress, but was pushed rightward after seeing the Department of Veterans Affairs fail to help many of his brothers in arms. He recalled being angered at how the Democrats' only solution was to "spend more money" on the VA. "The problem is that most Democrats seem to think more money and bigger government are the solutions to virtually every single problem," he wrote. He believed that the Democrats no longer had the right ideas to stand up for the middle class.
Greitens attended the United States Navy's Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida, in January 2001, graduating in May of that year as an ensign in the United States Navy Reserve. He then began Basic Underwater Demolitions/SEAL (BUD/S) training in Coronado, California, graduating with Class 237 in February 2002.
Greitens rose to be a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy Reserve. During his active duty career, he was deployed four times, to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and Southeast Asia. He was the commander of a joint special operations task unit, commander of a Mark V Special Operations Craft detachment, and commander of an al Qaeda targeting cell. Some of his military awards are the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and the Combat Action Ribbon.
He has directed criticism at the Veterans Administration, saying of its employees, "Even if you’re only 40 percent disabled, they’ll give you 100 percent disability in some cases." "You have to think about the incentives of government workers. Guys in the VA don’t get paid to help veterans lead productive lives. Their metrics are on how many people sign up for benefits." He feels such overuse strains the VA system and prevents vets from reintegrating into general society.
White House fellowship
In 2005, President George W. Bush appointed Greitens as a White House Fellow. As a White House Fellow, he worked in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and developed a new program to assist with rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina: the Universities Rebuilding America Partnership (URAP), a $5.6 million effort to engage architecture and engineering students in the continued effort to rebuild New Orleans. During his time as a White House Fellow, he co-founded the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll Program.
After returning from Iraq, Greitens used his combat pay and the disability pay of two friends to start The Mission Continues, whose goal is to "challenge veterans to serve and lead in communities across America". It encourages veterans to heal themselves through public service by engaging in volunteer organizations across the country. In 2014 the organization won the CLASSY Award, recognizing its effectiveness in active-duty and veteran services. He stepped down as CEO in July 2014 and resigned from the board of directors in 2015.
As CEO of The Mission Continues, Greitens worked without a salary in 2007–08. Later he received compensation between $150,000 and $200,000. Daniel Borochoff, president and founder of CharityWatch, which evaluates nonprofit organizations, remarked that Greitens' wages "seem within a reasonable range"; the AP reported that his salary was about one-third higher than the $131,000 median compensation for chief executives of 237 medium-sized charities in the Midwest. The Associated Press reported in March 2018 that Greitens had used the charity's email account to arrange political meetings about his intended gubernatorial campaign, which may not be allowed by federal tax law. Greitens was also accused of using the charity's list of donors to raise money for his political campaign, a violation of campaign finance law. On Friday, December 28, 2018, the Missouri Attorney General informed The Mission Continues that, after a review of “hundreds of thousands of pages” and several depositions, there was not enough evidence to support enforcement action against the nonprofit.
In July 2018, Spencer Kympton, president of The Mission Continues, posted an open letter informing the members of the nonprofit that "Regardless of someone's (Eric Greiten's) history with The Mission Continues, we do not stand by actions that violate the core values we all strive to embody. And as uncomfortable as it may be, we must not fail to pronounce that." This letter also apologized to the volunteers and community leaders with The Mission Continues for unwarranted attention from media and civic leaders they may have experienced.
Strength and Compassion is a collection of photographs and essays by Greitens. Published in 2008; it is Greitens' first book, with a foreword by Rwandan humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina and an introduction by Bobby Muller, cofounder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
The Heart and the Fist is Greitens' memoir, featuring stories of his humanitarian work, his training as a naval officer and SEAL and the military experiences that led him to adopt the philosophy that one has to be strong to do good, but one also has to do good to be strong. The book was ranked 10th on the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover nonfiction in May 2011, debuting on the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance Best Sellers list at No. 1 for the week of April 17, 2011. The following year, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt also released a young adult edition of The Heart and the Fist, titled The Warrior's Heart.
In March 2015, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt released Greitens' book Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life. It draws on letters Greitens wrote to a fellow SEAL struggling with PTSD.
As an author and former SEAL, Greitens was a popular speaker before his political career. In 2016, an anonymous group charged in a YouTube video that Greitens had exaggerated his record and was unduly benefiting from his time in the SEALs; Greitens later responded to the claims by releasing his military records and publishing a video he uploaded to his channel with testimonials from SEALs and Marines with whom he had served.
Governor of Missouri
On September 26, 2015, Greitens officially announced his candidacy for Governor of Missouri as a Republican. Shortly after a June 30, 2016, quarterly deadline for filing campaign contributions, he received the largest ever single contribution in a Missouri campaign, $1.975 million, which meant he did not have to reveal it until October, months after the primary. The source was a previously unknown Superpac, "SEALS for Truth". SEALS for Truth had received the money from the American Policy Coalition (APC), another Superpac, on the same day APC had received the entire amount. Greitens had assured voters he intended to increase transparency while reducing corruption in state politics as a campaign focus. The dark money APC, for which there was almost no information on the Internet, was headed by Ohio lawyer David Langdon, who had incorporated it in Kentucky in 2015. Between the 2010 election cycle and early 2015, eleven or more groups connected to Langdon had spent at least $22 million on ballot initiatives against abortion and same-sex marriage, as well as on federal and state elections and around the country, as tabulated through records review by the Center for Public Integrity. On March 12, 2017, the St. Louis Post Dispatch and The Kansas City Star editorial boards published a joint editorial criticizing Greitens for "secret fundraising and secret spending" and for tactics such as ordering that "[s]ecurity staffers block reporters from getting close to him". In 2018, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, announced the opening of an investigation of Greitens' 2016 campaign financing.
Greitens won the August 2 Republican primary with 236,250 votes (34.6%) to businessman John Brunner's 169,425 (24.8%), Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder's 141,498 (20.7%), and former Speaker Catherine Hanaway's 136,350 (19.9%). Democrat-turned-Republican Greitens faced Republican-turned-Democrat Chris Koster in the general election on November 8, 2016, and won with 51.3% of the vote to Koster's 45.4%.
On April 28, 2017, the Missouri Ethics Commission fined Greitens' campaign $1,000 for violating state campaign ethics rules regarding campaign disclosure. Greitens did not contest the fine.
Greitens took office as governor on January 9, 2017. His first two executive orders banned employees in the executive branch from accepting gifts from lobbyists and froze all new regulations through February 2017. He remained opposed to accepting a federal Medicaid expansion in Missouri. In November 2018, a statewide referendum put heavy restrictions on lobbyist gifts, virtually banning them.
On February 6, 2017, Greitens signed a bill into law making Missouri the 28th right-to-work state. In response, unions, who opposed the law, filed a referendum to overturn it, and on August 7, 2018, Missouri voters voted to overturn the right-to-work law.
On August 22, 2017, Greitens granted a stay of execution to Marcellus Williams, who had been set to be executed that day. DNA tests, using technology unavailable at the time of the killing, on the knife used in the killing matched an unknown male, not Williams. Greitens appointed a board of five retired judges to investigate the case and recommend commutation or execution. The panel has no deadline to report back to the governor.
On October 27, 2017, the governor's office announced that 30 women had been appointed to state boards and commissions, joining "a majority-female cabinet". First Lady Sheena Greitens had announced October 3 that the Greitens administration would appoint 25 women in the next 25 days, in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Women's Foundation of Kansas City.
On February 24, 2018, Greitens declared a state of emergency and activated the Missouri National Guard in response to severe weather that began on February 23.
On January 18, 2018, Greitens announced tax cuts to be proposed in the state legislature. More information on the cuts was released in the following weeks. The plan was to cut individual and corporate taxes by approximately $800 million. The overhaul would reduce the top individual income tax rate by 10% and reduce the corporate income tax rate by nearly a third. The top individual income tax rate would drop from 5.9% to 5.3%. The proposal would also create a non-refundable state tax credit for low-income workers, which Greitens said would essentially eliminate income taxes for 380,000 people. Greitens said the bill would drop taxes 51%, from $920 to $449 annually for a married couple with two children earning $40,000. Greitens also said the plan would drop taxes down 2.9%, from $6,917 to $6,716 annually, for a married couple with two children who earn $150,000. The plan also intended to cut corporate tax rates from 6.25% to 4.25%.
Greitens' $28.8 billion fiscal 2019 budget proposal estimated a 2.5% growth rate in net general revenue, with 70% coming from personal income taxes. To balance the operating budget, Greitens also proposed changes to the tax code that would increase state revenue. One of these was removing the timely filing discount. The discount offers vendors up to a 2% discount for filing sales taxes on time. The Missouri Department of Revenue projected state savings of $57.4 million by eliminating the timely filling discount.
On January 20, 2018, two U.S. officials alleged that Greitens was under inquiry by the FBI. Following its usual practice, the FBI did not confirm or deny the existence of an inquiry, and the sources could not confirm whether the blackmail allegations were its focus.
In January 2018, ahead of an investigative report released by St. Louis CBS affiliate KMOV the same evening, Greitens publicly disclosed that he had engaged in an extramarital affair with his hair stylist in 2015 (before running for governor). Greitens and his wife, Sheena, issued a joint statement in which Greitens acknowledged the affair, called it "a deeply personal mistake", and added that "we dealt with this together honestly and privately." KMOV played a recording made by the hairstylist's then-husband in which she said that Greitens had invited her to his home, where she consented to having her hands taped to exercise rings above her head while she was undressed and blindfolded. In the recording, she added that while she was blindfolded, Greitens took pictures of her without her consent and threatened to share them if she ever went public with the affair, implying an attempt at blackmail.
Greitens denied the blackmail accusation. After initially not commenting on the question, his attorney appeared to deny that any pictures were taken; in an email, he wrote, "No violence. No picture taken. No threat of blackmail." Greitens himself has not said whether he took any such photos.
After Attorney General Josh Hawley's office said in a statement that it did not have jurisdiction to look into the matter, the circuit attorney for the City of St. Louis opened an investigation into the blackmail allegations.
On February 22, 2018, Greitens was indicted on felony invasion of privacy charges by a St. Louis grand jury. Shortly afterward, he was handcuffed and taken into custody by St. Louis sheriff's deputies. He was released on his own recognizance and waived his first appearance. Greitens' team called the indictment a political attack and labeled St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner a "reckless liberal prosecutor". In response, Gardner said she was confident that "a fair and just resolution" would be achieved in the legal system. In March 2018, the Greitens defense team accused Gardner of committing a misdemeanor when she appointed Harvard law professor Ronald Sullivan Jr. to assist with the prosecution of the case. The circuit attorney's office responded that such claims by the defense were "another form of harassment towards the prosecution".
In a court filing in March, the defense said that no evidence had been presented to the grand jury that Greitens forwarded a nude cellphone photo of the alleged victim, which was reported to be a key element in determining whether he had committed a felony, but they did not say whether Greitens had taken such a photo. On March 26, the judge denied defense motions to have a bench trial rather than a jury trial, would not dismiss the assistant prosecutor, kept the jury trial date as scheduled, and did not dismiss the indictment.
On April 20, 2018, the circuit court attorney charged Greitens with a second felony for tampering with a computer in taking email and donor lists from The Mission Continues for fundraising purposes. The Associated Press first reported on the donor list in October 2016. Greitens initially denied using the list, though in April 2017 he acknowledged its use, saying it was provided by his then-campaign manager, which the former manager denied.
On May 14, 2018, prosecutors dismissed the felony invasion of privacy charge after investigators failed to find the alleged photo. The circuit attorney referred the case to a special prosecutor, Jean Peter Bakers of Kansas City, who declined to refile charges, citing the statutes of limitations and insufficient evidence.
On May 18, 2018, Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson announced he would not file any additional charges against Greitens, as suggested by Attorney General Hawley, related to how his gubernatorial campaign reported the receipt of a charity donor list used for political fundraising.
Several Republican members of the Missouri House of Representatives called on Greitens to resign after the allegations were made public. Attorney General Hawley, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, called the situation "very grave". Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, a Greitens campaign contributor and ally, called on Greitens to resign.
On April 11, 2018, a Special Investigative Committee (SIC) of the Missouri House of Representatives released an initial 24-page report detailing allegations against Greitens by the hair stylist with whom he had had an affair. The stylist accused him of unwanted kissing and sexual touching, violently slapping and spanking her, coercing her into performing oral sex on him, and threatening to blackmail her. In a four-page report issued on April 30, 2018, the committee tasked with investigating the blackmail allegation supplemented its report. The SIC chair, Republican representative Jay Barnes, said it found that the Greitens defense claims that the woman's testimony in a St. Louis interview was inconsistent with what she had told the committee were without foundation.
On May 3, the Missouri House and Senate collected enough signatures from members to call a special session to consider impeachment. House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Republican, said 29 senators and 138 House members, more than the three-fourths required in each chamber, supported convening a 30-day special session. It began on May 18, the last day of the regular session.
On May 29, 2018, Greitens announced that he would resign effective June 1. The St. Louis prosecutor's office had made a deal with Greitens that if he resigned, it would withdraw the felony charges for using the veterans' charity email list in his campaign.
At 508 days, Greitens's gubernatorial tenure is the tenth-shortest in Missouri history. Among elected governors, his tenure is the shortest of any Missouri governor since 1861, and the fourth-shortest overall (behind only Frederick Bates, Claiborne Fox Jackson, and Trusten Polk).
In the final days of his administration, Greitens signed 77 pieces of legislation into law. Among these was a bill that cut the corporate tax rate and changed how utility companies receive rate adjustments. Greitens also signed a law making revenge porn illegal in Missouri. He banned lab-grown meats, provided a 5% rate reduction for utility companies, and allowed monopoly utility companies to increase fees for water services if they don't make the expected amount from utility rates. Greitens also signed bills to:
- Allow telephone companies to choose a different way to be taxed
- Pare a program intended to entice developers to restore dilapidated buildings
- Raise the minimum age to be tried as an adult to 18 from 17
- Give state regulatory control over disposal of industrial waste
- Codify consumer protections for Missourians to ensure they're not stuck with large bills for emergency services
- Reclassify state workers as at-will employees
- Allow businesses to grow and harvest hemp
- Decrease the corporate tax rate from 6.25% to 4%
- Expand medicaid coverage for new mothers struggling with addiction
In the last days before officially resigning on June 1, Greitens issued four commutations and five pardons for various people. Greitens:
- Commuted the sentence of Rodney Lincoln, who had been in prison for 34 years.
- Commuted the sentence of Jessie McKim, who was convicted of a murder of which "experts who have reexamined evidence" consider him innocent
- Commuted the sentence of Alvis Williams, who was sentenced 80 years for stealing a walkman, VCR and other electronics, a sentence Greitens called "too harsh"
- Commuted the sentence of Verdia Miller, who had served 35 years for a murder Greitens said she didn't commit
- Pardoned Judy Henderson, who was sentenced to life in prison for a crime her boyfriend committed
- Pardoned Department of Mental Health employee Mark Whittle
- Pardoned Gary Thomas for a fistfight he got into in 2008
- Pardoned Betty Coleman, who served 27 years in prison after authorities said she unknowingly and inadvertently played a role in a murder her abusive boyfriend committed
- Pardoned Stacy Lannert, who was convicted of killing her abuser.
The Greitens administration cabinet began service on January 9, 2017, when Greitens was inaugurated as the 56th governor of the State of Missouri. Director of the Department of Corrections Anne Precythe was the first member of his cabinet, appointed on December 21, 2016. All but three members of his cabinet were confirmed by the Missouri Senate by the end of predecessor Jay Nixon's administration. Rob Nixon, Steve Corsi, and Anna Hui served as Acting Director of Economic Development, Acting Director of Social Services, and Acting Director of Labor and Industrial Relations, respectively, before being confirmed. The Greitens administration had a majority female cabinet.
|Cabinet Position||Name||Appointment Date|
|Administrator of the Office of Administration||Sarah Steelman||January 6, 2017|
|Director of the Department of Agriculture||Chris Chinn||December 27, 2017|
|Director of the Department of Corrections||Anne Precythe||December 21, 2016|
|Director of the Department of Natural Resources||Carol Comer||January 18, 2017|
|Director of the Department of Public Safety||Charles Juden||January 2, 2017|
|Director of the Department of Revenue||Joel Walters||February 14, 2017|
|Director of the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions, and Professional Registration||Chlora Lindely-Myers||February 14, 2017|
|Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services||Randall Williams||February 9, 2017|
|Director of the Department of Economic Development||Rob Nixon||June 2, 2017|
|Director of the Department of Social Services||Steve Corsi||May 19, 2017|
|Director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations||Anna Hui||March 30, 2017|
In December 2017, Democrats and government transparency advocates accused Greitens and senior members of his staff of subverting Missouri's open records laws after the Kansas City Star reported that they used Confide, a messaging app that erases texts after they have been read, on their personal phones. Attorney General Hawley at first claimed conflict of interest, but on December 20 announced his office would investigate, saying that the matter was legally complex because the state Sunshine Law "was written decades and decades ago and has not been updated to take into account" technological changes. In late December two attorneys filed suit, claiming that use of such "self-immolating" apps by elected officials and government employees violates Missouri's public records laws. On January 3, 2018, Rep. Gina Mitten filed House Bill 1817, which would ban use of apps like Confide in conducting public business, and House Speaker Todd Richardson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that in its 2018 session the legislature might consider modernizing the state's current open records laws. Hawley initiated an investigation into possible violations of the state's Sunshine laws after allegations that a state employee had managed a social media account on the governor's behalf.
On December 31, 2018, the Special Investigative Committee on Oversight that was investigating Greitens released its final report. The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch reported, "Documents and testimony showed that Greitens ran an off-the-books gubernatorial campaign in 2014 and 2015, and lied about his campaign's acceptance of a charity donor list from the Mission Continues, a veterans charity Greitens founded in 2007."
Greitens's marriage to his first wife ended in divorce in 2003. He married Sheena Elise Chestnut on August 7, 2011, in Spokane, Washington, and they have two sons. Greitens's wife is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Missouri, focused primarily on China and North Korea.
Greitens is Jewish, which was the faith of his mother, while his father was Catholic. He lives in the small town of Innsbrook, Missouri.
Honors and awards
On October 3, 2008, President George W. Bush awarded Greitens the President's Volunteer Service Award outside Air Force One at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Missouri, for his work at The Mission Continues.
Greitens was honored in 2009 with the HOOAH Award, commissioned by the Major George A. Smith Memorial Fund and presented by the National Conference on Citizenship to recognize "a notable veteran who defines their citizenship through service to our country". He was also named the 2010 Reader of the Year by Outside magazine.
In June 2010, Major League Baseball and People announced Greitens as a winner in People's All-Stars Among Us competition. He was selected to represent the city of St. Louis and the Cardinals at the 2010 All-Star Game in Anaheim, California.
On May 20, 2012, Greitens was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Tufts University when he gave the commencement speech at the school's 156th commencement. That same year, he received the Bronfman Prize, which is to recognize dynamic leaders whose innovation and impact serve as inspiration for the next generations.
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No violence. No picture taken. No threat of blackmail.
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|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Eric Greitens|
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|Party political offices|
| Republican nominee for Governor of Missouri
| Governor of Missouri