Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R.) was indicted Thursday on a charge of felony invasion of privacy as a scandal continues to unfold around an extramarital affair he had in 2015.
In a recording obtained by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the woman Greitens had the affair with allegedly said he took a photo of her disrobed, bound, and blindfolded during a sexual encounter. She said he later used the picture to blackmail her, and while Greitens acknowledged the affair, he denied that he used the photo as blackmail.
Greitens was taken to a St. Louis jail Thursday and then released, and he said on Facebook that the indictment is politically motivated.
"As I have said before, I made a personal mistake before I was Governor. I did not commit a crime," he wrote. "With today’s disappointing and misguided political decision, my confidence in our prosecutorial system is shaken, but not broken. I know this will be righted soon."
He called St. Louis prosecutor Kimberly Gardner "a reckless liberal prosecutor" who brought the indictment to "score political points."
A joint statement from state GOP leaders, including Speaker of the House Todd Richardson, said the charges are "serious" and warrant consideration.
"We will carefully examine the facts contained in the indictment and answer the question as to whether or not the governor can lead our state while a felony case moves forward," the statement said. "The people of Missouri deserve no less. We will begin the process of tasking a group of legislators to investigate these serious charges."
Gardner said the people of Missouri "deserve a thorough investigation."
"As I have stated before, it is essential for residents of the City of St. Louis and our state to have confidence in their leaders," Gardner said in a statement. "They must know that the Office of the Circuit Attorney will hold public officials accountable in the same manner as any other resident of our city. Both parties and the people of St. Louis deserve a thorough investigation of these allegations."
Ryan Silvey, whom Greitens appointed to the state’s Public Service Commission, said Greitens should probably resign.
"He doesn’t really have a lot of deep relationships in the Legislature to begin with," Silvey said. "I don’t see how he can effectively govern in the current situation. I think that it would probably be best for the party and for the state if he were to resign."
Greitens’ attorney, Edward L. Dowd Jr., said his client is "absolutely innocent."
"In forty years of public and private practice, I have never seen anything like this," he said. "The charges against my client are baseless and unfounded. My client is absolutely innocent."