JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Embattled Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has called off a statewide tour to promote a tax cut plan as he continues to face fallout from bombshell allegations that he threatened a former mistress with blackmail.
The tour, which was to include events this week in Springfield, Kansas City, St. Louis and Joplin, would have marked Greitens’ first public appearances since the initial report on the allegations late Wednesday. The Republican governor has acknowledged he participated in an extramarital affair but denied having made any threats.
Greitens appears poised to remain out of the public eye this week, however, as the controversy continues to swirl. Late Friday afternoon, the governor’s office contacted one of the companies set to be featured in the statewide tour and said the events were off.
“It’s not going to happen this week,” said Rick Pogue, director of operations at Venture Group Investments. “It may never happen. We just don’t know.”
Parker Briden, a spokesperson for the governor, confirmed to CNN that the tour “is being rescheduled.”
“The governor is committed to rolling out his plan to cut taxes for working families, and will lay out his principles for tax reform this week,” Briden said. Greitens unveiled plans to cut state taxes during his state of the state address, just hours before sexual misconduct allegations set his political plans reeling.
Pogue’s company was set to host Greitens at a manufacturing facility in St. Louis on Tuesday, and again Thursday at Arrowhead Building Supply in Springfield. In their call Friday to VGI, the governor’s office did not explain why those events would no longer move ahead as planned. But, Pogue laughed, “I think we know why.”
Greitens, who was considered by some national Republicans as a rising star in the party, is now facing a fight for his political life. St. Louis news outlet KMOV aired an audio recording last week of a husband and wife, now divorced, in which the woman disclosed her sexual relations with Greitens and his alleged threat to blackmail her with a nude photo if she named him in the affair. CNN later independently obtained and reviewed the full audio recording.
A lawyer for the woman released a statement last week saying “she is extremely distraught” and wants privacy.
The governor, meanwhile, has not been seen or heard from in public since an initial statement last week. Behind the scenes, he has been in damage-control mode, calling state lawmakers of both parties to apologize, CNN reported last week.
But political pressure has continued to build. In an editorial published this weekend, the Washington Missourian called on Greitens to step down. And some Republican lawmakers have also raised the prospect of resignation.
“At some point, if there’s not a way to squash this or get it off the radar and out of the system, obviously at some point, it’s going to be important for him to consider resignation,” State Sen. Gary Romine, a Republican, told CNN last week.