Home / News / Local / PRIMARY ELECTION SPECIAL: Money, Sex and Power: the campaign of Eric Greitens

PRIMARY ELECTION SPECIAL: Money, Sex and Power: the campaign of Eric Greitens

Eric Greitens−a lifelong Democrat with liberal alliances−claims to have recently become a conservative and is running as a Republican for Missouri Governor

  • Greitens has raised big money−about $9 million−with most of it received from out-of-state, including $1 million from a California-based Venture Capitalist accused of allegedly exploiting a woman as a sex-slave during a 13-year relationship. Despite calls by his Republican primary opponents to return the $1 million contribution, Greitens has refused to do so.
  • As he projects power as a former Navy SEAL, other SEALs say he has misrepresented, falsified and exaggerated his military service, violating their Navy SEAL ethos and oath as “Silent Professionals.” See video below.
  • Missouri Right to Life endorsed his three Republican opponents−John Brunner, Catherine Hanaway and Peter Kinder−but did not endorse Greitens and is urging their supporters to not vote for him.
  • Greitens opposed a Religious Freedom Amendment that all of his Republican opponents supported.

If you’ve been listening to radio, watching TV or surfing the Internet, you may have heard or seen his commercials and videos projecting a show of power and strength as a former Navy SEAL. From TV commercial showing him working out in a gym and beating a punching bag to blowing up Tannerite with an M4 rifle to pictures and footage of his two years during which he served as a Navy SEAL, Eric Greitens is everywhere. 

As a St. Louis resident and former Rhodes Scholar, Navy SEAL, White House Fellow, author and founder of the non-profit, The Mission Continues−serving returning veterans−Greitens is a newcomer to the Missouri political scene and a fundraising juggernaut. He calls himself a “conservative outsider” on a mission to challenge career politicians, fight corruption and root out political insiders and lobbyists whom, he says, have been controlling Jefferson City for decades.

“I Was Raised as a Democrat”

Greitens, by his own admission, grew up a Democrat. In 2010, Greitens was courted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to run against U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R) for the open seat that was being vacated by retiring former Senator Kit Bond.

Greitens also attended the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He drove to Denver with former Missouri Governor Bob Holden (D). Patriots for America contends that in their Navy SEAL community there are many who see Greitens as a political opportunist. They quote Holden, Greiten’s friend, as saying he thought Greiten’s party switch was driven by Koster’s lock on the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2016. “To me, an Eric Greitens and a Donald Trump aren’t in the same party,” Holden said. “I think Eric made the calculation that the best way to become governor is to be the Republican nominee.”

In an op-ed published July 13th of last year at foxnews.com, Greitens wrote, “I am a conservative Republican, but I didn’t start out that way. I was raised as a Democrat.” While many conservative Republicans in Missouri have accepted Greiten’s party switch as sincere, others are wary of his recent history espousing liberal ideals. They point out that while Reagan­­−a former Democrat­−was a Republican almost 20 years before becoming President, Greiten’s record as a Democrat continued until just two years before he announced his candidacy as a Republican.

ProgressivesToday.com in a December 15th post about Greiten’s candidacy stated “from pushing the global warming agenda, praising the UN, meeting with the DCCC about running as a Democrat in 2010 and endorsing ultra-liberal Mayor Slay for St. Louis in 2013, some conservatives aren’t buying his recent political transformation into a ‘conservative outsider.’”

In his 2009 book, The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL, Greitens−who is Jewish−compares the Palestinian cause to the U.S. civil rights movement. Some observers think Greitens sees the Missouri governorship as a potential stepping stone to higher office. His positions on Israel−given his questionable comparison of the Palestinians’ plight to the U.S. civil rights movement−might become an issue, if he wins the primary, especially given the strong support of the Republican Party for Israel.

Big Money from Out-of-State Donors

Ten days out from the Republican primary, Greitens has raised about $9 million. On July 18th, the Greiten’s campaign reported to the MEC at mec.mo.gov the single largest campaign contribution in Missouri state political history. A Washington, DC based federal Super PAC gave the Greitens for Missouri candidate committee a $1,975,000 contribution.

Kevin McDermott of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on stltoday.com June 20th that the “SEALs for Truth, which was registered as a federal Super PAC in mid June, reported having no money on hand as of June 30th…Any money the committee receives after June 30th doesn’t have to be reported until the third-quarter report, due Oct. 15th,” long after the primary on August 2nd.

McDermott continues by saying, “In other words, the group received the $1.975 million during roughly two weeks between July 1 and Monday [July 18th] when it donated the cash to Greitens.”

The Post-Dispatch reported that “federal records list the name of the Treasurer, Nicholas Britt, for SEALs for Truth, with a Washington, D.C. post-office box, but a Creve Coeur phone number.”

Political pundits are speculating that even though Super PACs must operate independently of candidates, Greitens may be aware of who is behind the Super PAC and its donors. They also speculate the PAC name, SEALs for Truth, was to counter opposition to Greiten’s candidacy by so many in the Navy SEAL community. Navy SEAL, Robert O’Neill, who claims to have fired the shots that killed Osama bin Laden, appeared with Greitens on June 28th in support of his candidacy.

Dirty Money from Alleged Sex Offender

Greitens received a $1 million campaign contribution from Silicon Valley California-based venture capitalist, Michael Goguen. As widely covered in the national media, he is the defendant in a $40 million civil lawsuit that was filed by plaintiff, Amber Baptiste, in March.

Goguen−Greiten’s million-dollar-donor−is accused by Baptiste of alleged breach of contract. In the lawsuit, she further alleged Goguen agreed to pay her $40 million as compensation for years of sexual and physical abuse over a 13-year period and to ensure she would not sue him.

Baptiste−a former exotic dancer−also claimed to have been sexually trafficked before meeting Goguen. Alleging that Goguen promised to rescue her, she claimed their relationship became increasingly non-consensual and physically and sexually abusive over a 13-year period.

Goguen’s accuser, Miss Baptiste, also alleges that Goguen has only paid her $10 million in breach of a $40 contract she claims he signed. Baptiste’s allegations against Goguen led to headlines nationwide last March identifying her as an alleged “sex-slave.” Baptiste also claimed Goguen allegedly transmitted the human papillomavirus (HPV) to her and that he also allegedly caused her to suffer an anal rupture injury, which required medical treatment.

Former presidential candidate, John Kasich, who received a $250,000 contribution from Goguen in March, returned the contribution within hours of the story breaking. Greitens, however, has refused to return his $1 million contribution he received from Goguen, saying he did not want to “pre-judge the outcome of the lawsuit.”

During a gubernatorial debate televised throughout the State on July 12th, Greitens accused Brunner of being behind the Patriots for America website at ericgrietens.com. Greitens told Brunner “take responsibility for what you did.” The developer of the Patriots for America website is a contractor for the Brunner campaign, which his campaign has admitted. Brunner, a former Marine, fired back during the debate by saying, “I had nothing to do with that Navy SEAL video.” In what seems to be an interesting double standard, the Greitens campaign is denying and not taking responsibility for what the LG PAC (see below) appears to be doing to the Brunner campaign.

Brunner also ended his closing statement at the debate by responding to Greitens, saying, “I refuse to be lectured by a guy who took one-million-dollars from the owner of a teenage sex slave. Eric, is there anyone you won’t take money from? Have you no shame?”

Goguen’s million-dollar contribution is not the only campaign donation to the Greitens campaign under conservative scrutiny. Numerous news outlets have documented that Greitens received $75,000 from the Pritzker family. Penny Pritzker is the current U.S.Secretary of Commerce in the Obama Administration.

Jennifer Pritzker, called the “world’s first openly transgender billionaire,” gave Greitens $50,000. On July 14th, the Greitens campaign reported it received $200,000 from Las Vegas casino billionaire, Sheldon Adelson.

Navy SEALs Oppose Greitens Candidacy

A group of 16 former Navy SEALs—made up of some who claimed to have served with Greitens—developed and reportedly contributed to a website named Patriots for America. Its Internet address is ericgrietens.com, a misspell of Greiten’s last name with the “i” before the “e.” Greiten’s official campaign website is ericgreitens.com with the “e” before the “i.”

The Patriots for America’s mobile website homepage states “THIS AUGUST, ANYONE BUT GREITENS” and features a YouTube video titled, Eric Greitens: The Heart and the Myth. The video questions the veracity and truthfulness of some portions of Greiten’s accounts of his military service. Greitens countered by releasing a video of his own posted on his campaign website at ericgreitens.com.

Greitens has repeatedly pressed Brunner for the Patriots for America website being backed by the Brunner campaign, while denying the LG PACs involvement with his campaign (see below). At the same time, the political operative and former Navy SEAL behind the ericgrietens.com website has been vocal, along with many other former Navy SEALs, challenging Greiten’s candidacy.

Patriots for America is comprised of veterans from three different branches of service and was shocked to discover that the web of lies told by Eric Greitens reaches beyond his flip flopping political positions to a falsified and exaggerated military past.”

Navy SEAL within the group say they oppose Greiten’s candidacy, in part, because he violated their oath as “silent professionals.” They explain that their ethos or creed is to not exploit their service for personal or political gain.

According to the Patriots for America website at ericgrietens.com, quoting Politico, “Democrats remember Greitens supporting a House majority that was developing Obamacare.” New York Congressman Steve Israel, who was the DCCC’s recruiting chairman for the 2010 election cycle, said of Greitens, “He was totally in line with Democratic values.”

Missouri Right to Life Says “NO!” to Greitens

Greiten’s campaign has issued a statement that Missouri should “promote life, protect innocent life and defend life.” He also said, “I am opposed to embryonic stem cell research.” Yet, on July 13th, Greiten’s received a $100,000 campaign contribution from Julian Robertson, a New York-based hedge fund manager who has been a major supporter of embryonic stem cell research.

On July 22nd Missouri Right to Life sent their ad appearing in this issue of the Metro Voice to their supporters, emphatically urging those on their statewide distribution list to not vote for Greitens. MRL’s Legislative Liaison, Susan Klein, told the Metro Voice that Greitens did not respond to their candidate survey or repeated requests to meet before MRL’s deadline for their PAC to make endorsements. Brunner, Hanaway and Kinder all received endorsements from the Missouri Right to Life PAC. Greitens did not.

Opposed Religious Freedom Amendment

Greitens was also the only Republican candidate for Governor to come out in opposition to Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 39, a proposed amendment to the State Constitution. Kinder, Hanaway and Brunner all went on the record in support of it. The amendment passed the Senate after a 39-hour filibuster by Democrats, but failed in a House committee. It would have prohibited the state from imposing penalties on a religious organization whose officials act in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief concerning same sex marriage, which includes the refusal to perform a same sex marriage ceremony.

The measure would have also protected businesses from penalty that decline to provide goods of expressional or artistic creation for a wedding ceremony. Supporters of HJR 39 cited businesses that have been fined by state agencies in other states in excess of $100,000 for refusing to provide services for same sex marriages. Opponents feared HJR 39, if enacted, would become a license for discrimination against the LGBT community.

“Mysterious LG PAC” Money Controversy

More than a million-dollars is said to have been raised and spent by a Kansas-based and federally-registered Political Action Committee (PAC) called LG PAC. That PAC has allegedly funded attack ads against Greiten’s conservative primary opponents, John Brunner and Catherine Hanaway. So far, Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder has escaped attacks from the LG PAC.

In a story aired on June 21st on KMBC 9 News by political reporter, Michael Mahoney, Greitens said “I do not know Hank Monsees. My campaign has nothing to do with Hank or anyone associated with Hank.”

So, who is Hank Monsees? Richard “Hank” Monsees is a long-time registered lobbyist in the State of Missouri and is listed as the Treasurer of the LG PAC. Because it is a federally-registered PAC, they are not required to disclose their donors, unlike requirements of the Missouri Ethics Commission (MEC) for in-state candidate committees and PACs.

While the LG PAC has appeared to be aligned with the Greitens campaign, such PACs are required by law to operate independently of the candidate they are supporting. Any communication or coordination between PACs executing independent expenditures in support of a candidate is forbidden by federal election laws.

As Mahoney’s report pointed out after a Greitens campaign event, “one photo at the May 19th event shows Monsees and Greitens talking. Another photo from the same event shows Monsees with a phone to his ear,” sitting at a campaign phone bank.

Monsees said, “I may have played with the phones or something, but I made no calls,” according to a statement released to KMBC 9 News. In a June 20th story posted at kansascity.com by Kansas City Star political reporter, Dave Helling, the LG PAC released a statement stating the “LG PAC is not supporting any candidate for Governor” and “As conservative Republicans, LG PAC’s singular focus is helping to ensure that we elect a conservative that can win in November.” Monsees added, “I have spent most of my adult life involved in Missouri Republican politics and meeting various candidates at events.”

Despite denials from Greitens that he even knows Monsees or his campaign has anything to do with Hank−which pictures of the two together appear to contradict−a June 18th story by themissouritimes.com paints a different picture.

The Missouri Times stated at themissouritimes.com that “as the mysterious LG PAC prepares to make another million-dollar media buy, more information about the group that’s so far released only one TV spot, an attack ad on John Brunner, has started to surface.”

Political observers have noted Greiten’s apparent hypocrisy. He has repeatedly pressed Brunner to take responsibility for the activities of the former Navy SEALs behind the Patriots for America website at ericgrietens.com. At the same time, Greitens has denied even knowing Hank Monsees or about the activities of the LG PAC when, which has been clearly contradicted.

Republican Rambo or Democrat Imposter?

One longtime conservative Republican, speaking on condition of anonymity, labeled Greitens a “fake” and “fraud” in his candidacy. “Greitens is politically a ambitious imposter, exploiting his honorable military service and is falsely masquerading as a conservative to try and steal the Republican primary from real conservative candidates.”

With 10 days left before the primary, Greitens has come from behind to take the lead, according to the most recent poll by Remington Research Group conducted on July 7th and 8th. He will be hard pressed to hold that lead among Republican primary voters without the endorsement of Missouri Right to Life. He also has liberal baggage to carry from his recent political past, including being the lone Republican candidate for Governor to oppose the proposed Religious Freedom Amendment. Some of the liberals and litigated in his donor base may also dissuade Republican primary voters from supporting his candidacy on August 2nd.

An astute and longtime insider in Missouri politics wryly observed the irony, that “if Greitens wins the primary, the race for Governor will be a Republican who used to be a Democrat (Greitens) facing a Democrat who used to be a Republican (Koster).”

–John Wright is a free-lance writer and analyst and is a contributor to the Metro Voice. He is not affiliated with any candidate, candidate committee, political action committee or super PAC.