As Gov. Eric Greitens took the oath of office Monday, a controversial Silicon Valley investor who gave his campaign $1 million was behind him on the Missouri Capitol stage.
Michael Goguen became a key figure in the GOP primary for governor last summer after he was forced to step down from his job at the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital because a woman filed a lawsuit against him alleging he sexually, physically and emotionally abused her for 13 years, then reneged on an agreement to pay her $40 million to halt a personal injury lawsuit.
Goguen has vehemently denied the allegations, saying that while he had a consensual extramarital relationship with the woman and paid her $10 million, he never abused her. He filed a counter-suit against the woman alleging extortion.
Greitens faced repeated calls by the three other Republicans running for governor for him to return the $1 million Goguen donated to his campaign. Greitens refused to do so, saying at the time that he wanted the legal process to run its course before jumping to any conclusions.
Never miss a local story.
But his GOP rivals, led by former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, pointed to the fact that Ohio Gov. John Kasich returned $250,000 Goguen had donated to his campaign and Super PAC when the lawsuit became public.
“I call on Mr. Greitens to cut all ties to Mr. Goguen and to send back his campaign contributions, now,” Hanaway said last summer. “If he does not, serious questions must be raised about Mr. Greitens’s judgment and whom he surrounds himself with.”
Later in the summer, Goguen sued one of Greitens’ GOP rivals, John Brunner, for defamation after Brunner said during a debate televised across the state that Goguen was “the owner of a teenage sex slave.”
Brunner eventually retracted the comment, but the lawsuit is still ongoing.
Goguen was on the stage Monday while Greitens took his oath of office and delivered his inaugural address, alongside elected officials and guests invited by the new governor. Greitens’ spokesman declined to comment when contacted by The Star.
Goguen could not be immediately reached for comment.