Greiten’s RINO video led to threats to family, lawyer says

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) – The family of Missouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens has been subjected to “serious threats” in the days since he was a violent campaign video declaring that he is hunting RINOs, or Republicans in Name Only, his ex-wife’s lawyer said in court on Thursday.

Attorney Helen Wade said during a court hearing in the former couple’s custody battle that Sheena Greitens has received written threats, noting that her email address is public because she is an employee of a public university.

“We live in a country where this kind of rhetoric has led to violence,” she said. “It is written: ‘Wouldn’t it be terrible if someone hunted and killed Eric Greitens and his entire family. Golly, that would be terrible.′ That’s one of them. The other one is so horrible I can’t read it aloud in court.”

The hearing was part of the case to decide whether custody of the couple’s two sons should be checked by a court in Missouri or in Texas, where Sheena Greitens and the boys now live. In an affidavit dated March as part of the case, Sheena Greitens accused her ex-husband of verbal and physical abuse

Greits, who? resigned as governor of Missouri in June 2018 after an extramarital affair sparked a criminal charge in St. Louis, has repeatedly called the abuse allegations false. He accused Sheena Greitens of collaborating with people he considers RINOs in an attempt to sabotage his Senate campaign.

The 38-second campaign ad that fell Monday shows Eric Greitens brandishing a shotgun. An armed tactical team breaks into a house and throws what appear to be flash grenades. Greitens comes in through the smoke and says, “Join the MAGA crew. Apply for a RINO hunting license. There is no limit on baggage, no limit on tagging and it does not expire until we save our country.”

Eric Greitens said the ad was intended to be humorous and not taken literally. He was not at the hearing.

“I’m disappointed Eric isn’t here today as we were hoping we could get him to make a statement clearly disapproving of the use of any form of violence against my client,” Wade said.

Eric Greitens’ attorney Gary Stamper said in court “it is unfair to suggest” that Greitens “wants to harm her”. Stamper later said in a statement that the two threats in a paper from Wade were not death threats, but he still denounced them.

In a telephone interview with The Associated Press after the hearing, Sheena Greitens said she was shocked by the video earlier this week.

“Eric and his attorney have spent the past three months trying to tie me into what they call a RINO conspiracy involving Karl Rove and Mitch McConnell,” Sheena Greitens said. “It is completely made up. It’s not true at all and Eric knows it’s not true.

“But to be repeatedly stuck with RINOs for three months in a bunch of public rhetoric from Eric, and then to see a video on Monday about locating RINOs and labeling and packing them, yes, I was concerned about my safety and the safety of my children.”

Sheena Greitens provided the AP with copies of email exchanges from 2018 in which she accused her then-husband of abuse. She said the emails are proof that despite Eric Greitens’ claims that the allegations in the March affidavit came out of nowhere to sabotage his campaign, he knew about them from the start.

A message requesting comment from Greitens’ campaign was not immediately returned.

Eric Greitens is one of 21 Republicans running for the Senate seat to be vacated by the incumbent Roy Blunt’s Retirement† Most polls have shown Greitens to be at or near the top of the field, though in close competition with U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler and Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

Some GOP leaders fear that if Greitens wins the August 2 primary, he will… could lose in November† With the Senate split evenly, the GOP cannot afford to lose what would otherwise be a safe seat.

Greitens is a former Navy SEAL officer and Rhodes Scholar who was largely unknown in politics before being elected governor in 2016. With an abundance of charisma, good looks and his military background, Greitens was seen by many as a future presidential candidate. He made no secret of his ambition and reserved the website.

His star seemed to fade as quickly as it rose. In January 2018, he admitted to having an extramarital affair with his hairdresser in St. Louis in 2015 and was charged a month later with an invasion of privacy accused of taking a compromising photo of the woman.

In a short time, a Missouri House committee began investigating campaign finance issues, and Greitens was facing a second felony in St. Louis related to campaign finance. Both charges were eventually dropped. At the risk of the charges being resubmitted, and still with possible impeachment, Greitens resigned in June 2018. Eric and Sheena Greitens divorced in 2020.

In the March affidavit, Sheena Greitens said her ex-husband displayed such “unstable and coercive behaviour” when his political career appeared to be collapsing in 2018 that steps were being taken to limit his access to firearms. She said in the interview that friends, security guards and others shared her concerns and tried to keep Eric Greitens away from his gun.

___ Salter reported from O’Fallon, Missouri.

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