JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) – Four Missouri GOP lawmakers on Tuesday called on Republican Gov. Eric Greitens to resign as more details of his alleged blackmailing of a mistress have come to light.
The legislators — Reps. Marsha Haefner of Oakville, Nate Walker of Kirksville, Steve Cookson of Poplar Bluff and Kathie Conway of St. Charles — are all Republican members of the Missouri House of Representatives.
Their calls for resignation, in separate statements, came as Greitens returned to the Capitol after the three-day weekend. The governor has admitted to having an extramarital affair but denies claims of blackmailing.
"When a man cheats on his wife, it's a family matter," Haefner said. "When the Governor of Missouri cheats, then allegations of victimizing his mistress, blackmail, bribes and his taxpayer funded employee involves herself in questioning the attorney for the accuser follow, it becomes a state matter."
Haefner added, "I find no pleasure in saying this, but I believe Governor Greitens is no longer fit to hold Missouri's highest office."
Haefner’s statement was issued after The Associated Press reported that an attorney representing the mistress’ ex-husband said that another attorney who works in Greitens’ office reached out to him on a fact-finding mission hours before news of the governor's extramarital affair broke, according to an audio recording of the conversation.
Attorney Al Watkins, who represents the ex-husband, provided the AP with audio of the call from Lucinda Luetkemeyer, general counsel in the governor's office, which Watkins received around 2 p.m. on Jan. 10. Eight hours after the call, KMOV-TV reported that Greitens had an affair with his St. Louis hairdresser in 2015 as the Republican was preparing to run for governor.
The initial KMOV report quoted a man who provided a recording of his then-wife telling him that Greitens had partially undressed her, taped her to exercise equipment, took her photo and then threatened to release the photo if she ever told anyone about the encounter.
“You’re never going to mention my name,” Greitens told the woman, according to her account on the recording. “Otherwise, this picture will be everywhere.”
Greitens’ counsel, James Bennett, told reporters late last week that the attacks were politically motivated and that the governor was paying for his legal representation personally, not with taxpayer funds.
Rep. Conway said in a statement, “After taking the weekend to think, study the facts, and pray about it, the path forward is really becoming clear. With a heavy heart, I ask the Governor to consider resigning and allow the state to move forward with its work for our citizens.”
Cookson said, "I want to appeal to his sense of character, and any regard he may have for the good folks of the State of Missouri, I'm calling for him to step down and resign as Governor of the State of Missouri so that the work on the many issues he has expressed concern for can resume without these distractions."
Walker was once a big supporter of Greitens, who ran as a political outsider not beholden to special interests, but also called for him to step down on Tuesday.
"It has become clear after the very courageous statements by Reps. Conway and Haefner, this scandal will make it impossible to lead the state going forward," Walker said in a statement. "Last night’s news of state employees being involved in attempting to control the scandal is further proof that this will not be going away anytime soon.”
"It is my belief the Governor should resign so that the state can move forward focusing on the issues that we all care about," he added.
Greitens' spokesman, Parker Briden, did not immediately return a request for comment made by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Tuesday.
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