(JTA) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens threatened to distribute a compromising photo of his hairdresser after initiating unwanted sexual contact, an investigation by a state legislative committee found.
Greitens hit the woman and forced himself on her several times during the extramarital affair they had before he ran for office, the unnamed woman told the lawmakers — five Republicans and two Democrats — on the committee handling the investigation.
Greitens called the committee’s report “tabloid trash, gossip,” and said in a statement issued Wednesday night that “this was an entirely consensual relationship, and any allegation of violence or sexual assault is false.”
“I want to say again what I’ve said from the beginning: This is a political witch hunt,” the Republican governor said earlier in the day from the State Capitol in Jefferson City.
Greitens, a former Navy SEAL whose seven military awards include the Bronze Star, became the first Jewish governor of Missouri when he was elected in November 2016.
The affair, which happened in March 2015, was first reported by the St. Louis TV station KMOV.
Greitens was indicted in February for taking a nonconsensual photo of the woman in a compromising position and then transmitting the photo “in a manner that allowed access to that image via a computer.”
According to the woman’s testimony, Greitens told her “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.” She also said that Greitens spanked her and initiated unwanted sexual contact after taking the photo.
The special legislative committee will make recommendations following the regular legislative session, which is scheduled to end May 18, about whether to start impeachment proceedings against Greitens and remove him from office, The Associated Press reported.
State Attorney General Josh Hawley, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, called for Greitens’ resignation. He said the report contains “shocking, substantial, and corroborated evidence of wrongdoing by Governor Greitens,” according to AP.