As allegations that former Gov. Eric Greitens was physically abusive to his wife and children were made public Monday, calls for him to drop out of the U.S. Senate race abounded swiftly.
U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, said: “If you hit a woman or a child, you belong in handcuffs, not the United States Senate. It’s time for Eric Greitens to leave this race.”
In an affidavit made public Monday, Sheena Greitens, the former governor’s ex-wife, accused Eric Greitens of being physically abusive toward her and their children and of manipulating and coercing her into publicly supporting his political ambitions.
“In early June 2018, I became afraid for my safety and that of our children at our home, which was fairly isolated, due to Eric’s unstable and coercive behavior,” she said in the affidavit. “This behavior included physical violence toward our children, such as cuffing our then three-year-old son across the face at the dinner table in front of me and yanking him around by his hair.”
Sheena Greitens described an incident that she said occurred in April 2018 when Eric Greitens knocked her down and took her cell phone, wallet, and keys. She said he later admitted to doing so in order to “prevent me from doing anything that might damage his political career.” She also said her son came home from a visit with Eric Greitens once “with a swollen face, bleeding gums, and loose tooth” that later had to be surgically removed. She said the son said Eric Greitens had hit him; Eric Greitens told her they had been “roughhousing,” Sheena Greitens said.
Sheena Greitens said multiple people, on at least three occasions, attempted to limit Eric Greitens’ access to firearms. She said she began to sleep in her children’s room “simply to keep them safe” after Eric Greitens refused to tell her where he kept his gun. She also said Eric Greitens threaten to commit suicide unless she provided public political support.
Additionally, Sheena Greitens alleged he threatened to use his connections as a former governor to law enforcement to prevent her from taking their children to her parents’ house “out of continued fear for our safety.”
“When I told Eric about my plans, he threatened to come to the airport and have me arrested for kidnapping and child abuse, saying that because of his authority as a former governor who had supported law enforcement, the police would support him and not believe me, and I would lose our children,” the affidavit said.
Eric Greitens resigned as Missouri’s governor in 2018 amid investigations into sexual misconduct and campaign finance allegations.
In a statement, Eric Greitens said he is seeking full custody of his children which “includes fighting for the truth and against completely fabricated, baseless allegations.”
Quickly, once the allegations regarding his wife and children became public, Missouri Republicans and other U.S. Senate candidates called for Eric Greitens to withdraw from the race.
“Real men don’t abuse their wife. Real men don’t abuse their children. Eric Greitens is not a real man. He is a fake, failed politician and a terrible human being,” said Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden.
“I have one thing that I want to say. Real men never abuse women and children, period, end of story. It’s time for Eric to get out of this Senate race and to get professional help,” Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, one of the Republicans vying for the seat, said.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt, also a Senate contender, said: “These allegations of abuse are disgusting and sickening. As Missouri’s attorney general, I know a predator when I see one, and I have fought for victims every step of the way. The behavior described in this affidavit is cause for Eric Greitens to be in prison, not on the ballot for U.S. Senate. He should end his campaign immediately.”
“I have consistently said that [Greitens] is unfit to serve in public office. In light of today’s evidence showing a long pattern of abuse against his wife and children, he should end his campaign immediately,” said Senate President Pro Tem and GOP U.S. Senate candidate Dave Schatz.
“Like most of America, I’m shocked and appalled by what was in Sheena Greitens’ sworn affidavit about Eric Greitens,” Congressman Billy Long said. “He is clearly unfit to represent the state of Missouri in the United States Senate. There’s no way he can stay in this race.”
“Eric Greitens should be in prison. He’s unfit to serve,” Democratic contender Lucas Kunce said, adding the former governor should “immediately drop out of the race.”
“Eric Greitens is unfit for office. His well-established pattern of conduct shows he has no business representing Missouri. I called on him to resign as governor four years ago, and today I am calling on him to withdraw from the U.S. Senate race,” said Scott Sifton, a former state senator and a current Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.