Government & Politics

Greitens’ campaign spending six figures on TV ads as lawmakers weigh impeachment

Gov. Eric Greitens' campaign is spending at least $185,000 on TV ads as Missouri lawmakers hold a special session to weigh whether to impeach him.
Gov. Eric Greitens' campaign is spending at least $185,000 on TV ads as Missouri lawmakers hold a special session to weigh whether to impeach him.

Embattled Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has purchased at least $185,000 in television ads — set to begin airing this week — in a year when he is not on the ballot.

Greitens’ campaign purchased the television air time as Missouri lawmakers are holding a special session to weigh whether to impeach the Republican governor.

Greitens has been hounded since January by allegations that he photographed a woman while she was bound and partly nude to keep her from speaking about an extramarital affair in 2015.

His campaign has purchased more than $129,000 worth of air time in the St. Louis region spread across four TV stations through June 4, according to records on the Federal Communications Commission’s website.

That includes more than $45,000 that will go to KMOV, the St. Louis TV station that first reported on the allegations that spurred criminal and legislative investigations of the governor.

Greitens posted the ad to his personal Facebook page Tuesday afternoon.

It seeks to discredit the allegations against him by pointing to the fact that the publisher of The Missouri Times delivered $50,000 to the attorney of the ex-husband of Greitens' alleged victim, an arrangement that remains murky because of conflicting stories about the reason for the payment.

"Court documents prove the fake news paid thousands for allegations against Greitens, a liberal St. Louis prosecutor funded by George Soros pressed charges and Democrat leadership orchestrated the false attacks," the ad claims.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner said Tuesday night that the ad is "just another example of Governor Greitens' 'scorched-earth' strategy."

The suggestion that Democrats were responsible for the allegations becoming public has not been proved and actually conflicts with statements from Greitens' own lawyers, who have sought to implicate business interests upset with the governor's decision to end a low-income housing tax credit.

"Don't let the liberals get away with it. Stand with Navy SEAL Eric Greitens and conservative legislators," the ad urges viewers.

Roy Temple, a former state Democratic chair, called the ad "desperate, deceptive and despicable. In other words, it's 100 percent consistent with the Greitens brand."

Gardner dropped the criminal case last week, but Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker was appointed special prosecutor in the case Monday and will have the option to file new charges after a review of the evidence.

Even if no new charges are filed, lawmakers could vote to impeach the governor based on the testimony of the woman at the center of the case. Lawmakers found her testimony credible in an April report that outlined additional allegations of sexual coercion and physical violence.

Greitens has admitted to the affair but has repeatedly denied the allegations of criminal wrongdoing.

Greitens also faces a felony computer-tampering charge in St. Louis based on an investigation by Attorney General Josh Hawley into Greitens' campaign’s use of a charity donor list for his 2016 election.

Greitens’ senior political adviser Austin Chambers did not comment on the ad campaign's purpose. The campaign’s legal team did not immediately comment either.

In addition to the St. Louis ad buy, Greitens’ campaign has purchased more than $24,000 of airtime from Kansas City’s Fox 4 station for 43 commercials in Kansas City through June 4.

The campaign also bought nearly $32,000 worth of airtime from KOAM in the Joplin region.

The Star's Steve Vockrodt contributed to this story.