KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Navy appeared reluctant to reinstate former Navy SEAL and Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens in 2019 until Vice President Mike Pence’s office appeared to intervene, according to newly released documents.
Greitens resigned as governor in 2018 amid several scandals, including campaign misconduct allegations and accusations that he took a compromising photo of a woman without her consent during a 2015 extramarital affair.
Navy officials subsequently expressed reservations about Greitens rejoining the military in emails the Kansas City Star obtained.
“I would be disinclined to grant a major misconduct waiver for anyone with an indictment such as his based on what we know now,” Rear Adm. Brendan McLane, then-commander of Navy Recruiting Command, wrote in an email dated Jan. 11, 2019.
McLane’s objections were dismissed after the vice president’s office appeared to show interest in the matter. Pence’s office denied any involvement in Greitens’reinstatement.
“Vice President Pence did not, nor did he authorize any staff to, intervene on behalf of Mr. Greitens,” Pence’s spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a text message sent Sunday night to The Associated Press.
In a summary of a Jan. 30, 2019, call with Greitens, McLane said the former governor told him Pence “had asked him to come work for him on a project and suggested he do it in a Navy capacity.”
McLane notified Navy leadership the same day that he would begin the reinstatement of Greitens.
“Long story short, VPOTUS wants(redacted) to come work for him in D.C. but in a military capacity,” McLane’s executive assistant, whose name was also redacted, wrote on Feb. 13. “The whole chain of command from SECDEF on down are supportive of him coming in so we’re just trying to make this as painless and quick as possible.”
Greitens’ spokesman Dylan Johnson told The Star that the former governor was “fully exonerated, and is proud to continue to serve in the Navy Reserve.”
Greitens was a rising Republican star after his 2016 election — a charismatic former Navy SEAL officer and Rhodes Scholar with presidential ambitions.
But in February 2018, he was indicted on an invasion-of-privacy charge in St. Louis for allegedly taking a compromising photo of a woman with whom he was having an affair.
Soon after, a Missouri House committee began investigating campaign finance issues, and Greitens faced a second felony charge in St. Louis accusing him of providing his political fundraiser with the donor list from a veterans charity he founded.
The invasion of privacy charge was dropped. A few weeks later, in June 2018, Greitens resigned and the fundraising charge was dropped. The former lieutenant governor, Mike Parson, became governor and is running for a full term this year.
The Missouri Ethics Commission ruled in February that Greitens’ campaign broke the law by not reporting it cooperated with a political action committee in 2016, but officials said they didn’t find evidence that Greitens himself did anything wrong.
After that, Greitens re-emerged after nearly two years out of the public eye, handing out masks to first responders in St. Louis and Kansas City during the coronavirus outbreak. It has fueled speculation that he will seek office again.
In a recent interview with a Cape Girardeau television station, Greitens criticized Parson and said he is “certainly open to potentially serving again in office here in Missouri.”