Missouri governor accused of blackmailing mistress hit with fresh probe
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Missouri governor accused of blackmailing mistress hit with fresh probe

Eric Greitens facing growing calls for impeachment or resignation amid claims he improperly coordinated fundraising efforts with his 2015 election campaign

Eric Greitens speaking at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York, May 7, 2012. (Craig Barritt/Getty Images for The Robin Hood Foundation via JTA)
Eric Greitens speaking at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York, May 7, 2012. (Craig Barritt/Getty Images for The Robin Hood Foundation via JTA)

Authorities in the US state of Missouri announced Thursday a second criminal inquiry into the activities of Governor Eric Greitens, who is already accused of blackmailing his former mistress with an explicit photo taken without her consent.

The new criminal probe concerns the activities of The Mission Continues, a veterans charity founded by Greitens in 2007, and whether it improperly coordinated with his 2015 election campaign for fundraising purposes.

A booking photo provided by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department shows Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. (St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

It comes on top of an expanding investigation by the city prosecutor in St Louis into Greitens, who was arrested last month after a grand jury issued a charge of criminal invasion of privacy amid allegations that he blackmailed a woman with whom he was having an affair.

He is facing calls to resign from both fellow Republicans and Democrats, and a separate investigation by the state’s legislature which could lead to impeachment.

“The Attorney General’s Office has an open inquiry into the charitable activities of The Mission Continues,” spokeswoman Loree Anne Paradise said in a statement emailed to AFP.

The probe was connected to “consumer protection and charitable registration and reporting laws,” she said.

Greitens was criminally charged last week in connection with allegations that he took a photograph of his former mistress blindfolded, tied up and partially nude, and threatened to expose her if the affair became public.

He faces trial in May on a felony invasion of privacy charge.

The governor had admitted to the affair prior to taking office, but denied any wrongdoing. He and his surrogates have also criticized the St Louis prosecutor that charged him, saying she was motivated by politics.

The Republican-led Missouri House formed a committee Monday to investigate Greitens over the allegations surrounding his affair.

Greitens’ attorney and The Mission Continues charity did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Eric Greitens as a Navy SEAL in Iraq. (Courtesy of Rubenstein Public Relations/JTA)

Greitens, the father of two young boys, came into office as a political outsider, a brash Rhodes Scholar and Navy SEAL officer who was wounded in Iraq, emerging as the winner in a crowded and expensive GOP primary.

A former boxer and martial arts expert, he has embraced the role of maverick. He responded to a Democratic attack ad in the fall of 2016 with one of his own in which he fired more than 100 rounds from a machine gun as an announcer declared he’d bring out “the big guns” to fight Democratic policies championed by then-President Barack Obama.

Greitens, who is Jewish, surprised many experts by defeating Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster in the November 2016 election. Some saw him as a rising Republican star with potential presidential aspirations.

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