Eric Greitens facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Greitens in 2017
|56th Governor of Missouri|
January 9, 2017 – June 1, 2018
|Preceded by||Jay Nixon|
|Succeeded by||Mike Parson|
Eric Robert Greitens
April 10, 1974
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
|Political party||Republican (since 2015)|
|Democratic (before 2015)|
(m. 2000; div. 2003)
(m. 2011; div. 2020)
|Education||Duke University (BA)
Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford (MPhil, DPhil)
|Civilian awards||President's Volunteer Service Award|
|Branch/service||United States Navy|
|Years of service||2001–2021|
|Unit|| U.S. Navy SEALs
U.S. Navy Reserve
War in Afghanistan
|Military awards|| Bronze Star
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Complete list of decorations
Born and raised in St. Louis, Greitens graduated from Duke University in 1996 and received a doctorate from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, as a Rhodes scholar in 2000. During his four tours of duty as a U.S. Navy SEAL officer, he rose to the rank of lieutenant commander, commanded a unit targeting al-Qaeda, and was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Later, after being a White House fellow, Greitens founded a nonprofit organization, The Mission Continues, to benefit veterans. In 2013, Time included him in its list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
A Democrat during his early life, Greitens announced in 2015 that he had become a Republican. He ran for governor of Missouri as a Republican in 2016. Greitens prevailed over three opponents in the Republican primary and then defeated Democratic Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster in the general election. He was Missouri's first Jewish governor. One of Greitens's signature accomplishments in office was signing Missouri's right-to-work law, which was later repealed by statewide referendum.
In February 2018, Greitens was charged with felony invasion of privacy and later with campaign-related offenses. He was indicted on felony charges of computer tampering in April 2018; all charges were dropped in May 2018. Greitens resigned from office on June 1, 2018, after the Missouri General Assembly commenced a special session to consider impeachment. ..... A bipartisan Special Investigative Committee in the Missouri state legislature found the woman "overall credible" and issued a report on the incident.
Greitens later unsuccessfully attempted a return to public office, running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring incumbent Roy Blunt in the 2022 election; he lost the Republican primary to Missouri Attorney General Eric S. Schmitt, who went on to become the senator-elect.
- Early life and education
- Navy career
- Subsequent career
- Switch to the Republican Party
- 2016 Missouri gubernatorial election
- Tenure and political positions
- 2022 U.S. Senate campaign
- Personal life
- Honors and awards
- See also
Early life and education
Greitens was born on April 10, 1974, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Becky and Rob Greitens. Greitens's mother was a special education teacher and his father was an accountant for the Missouri Department of Agriculture. His mother is Jewish and his father is Catholic, and Greitens was raised Jewish. He grew up as a Democrat. Greitens graduated from Parkway North High School in 1992.
After high school, Greitens majored in ethics, philosophy, and public policy at Duke University. He graduated in 1996 with an A.B. summa cum laude. Greitens won a Harry S. Truman Scholarship and was selected as a Rhodes scholar, which allowed him to pursue graduate studies at Oxford University. He was a member of Lady Margaret Hall and studied development studies, receiving a M.Phil. in 1998 and a Ph.D., for research on humanitarian organization efforts on behalf of children in war-torn countries, in 2000.
During his 2016 campaign for governor, Greitens said, "I have worked in Cambodia with kids who lost limbs to land mines and are survivors of polio. I've worked in Bolivia with children of the street. I've worked in one of Mother Teresa's homes for the destitute and dying." For six weeks as a college student, Greitens worked at two refugee camps, the Puntizela camp outside Pula, Croatia, and the Gasinci camp outside Osijek, Croatia. Both are described in his book. Refugee camps in Croatia were temporary homes for Bosnians crossing the border. Greitens also traveled to Rwanda and Zaire as a volunteer U.N. photographer.
Greitens matriculated at the United States Navy's Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida, in January 2001, graduating in May of that year as an ensign in the United States Navy Reserve. He then began Basic Underwater Demolitions/SEAL (BUD/S) training in Coronado, California, graduating with Class 237 in February 2002.
Greitens rose to be a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy Reserve. During his active duty career, he was deployed four times, to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and Southeast Asia. He was the commander of a joint special operations task unit, a Mark V Special Operations Craft detachment, and an al-Qaeda targeting cell.
In 2005, Greitens left full-time active duty to take a one-year White House fellowship. Appointed by President George W. Bush, Greitens developed a program to get architecture and engineering students involved in rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina. He remained a Navy reservist and led a program that recruited advisers for special military operations around the world. As a White House fellow, he also worked in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
After his fellowship, he volunteered for a six-month tour in Iraq that began in October 2006. ..... The attack was the seventh chlorine bombing in the Al Anbar province of Iraq by Al-Qaeda. Greitens was among about 15 who were wounded, and he received a Purple Heart after sustaining injuries from the bombing. He was also awarded the Bronze Star and Combat Action Ribbon.
Greitens has criticized the Veterans Administration, saying of its employees, "Even if you're only 40 percent disabled, they'll give you 100 percent disability in some cases" and "You have to think about the incentives of government workers. Guys in the VA don't get paid to help veterans lead productive lives. Their metrics are on how many people sign up for benefits." He feels such overuse strains the VA system and prevents vets from reintegrating into general society.
..... In the Philippines, his crew effectively shut down a transit site for a terrorist organization, according to an evaluation report.
In January 2019, Greitens (then in the Individual Ready Reserve) sought to be reinstated to the Navy's Selected Reserve. ....." But under pressure from Vice President Mike Pence, the Navy allowed Greitens to return, granting him a "red carpet" medical clearance. Upon his return, however, the Special Warfare Command denied Greitens reentry into the SEALs. He was instead a general unrestricted line officer, a classification for reservists tasked with office duties. After spending two years as an active member of the Navy Reserve, Greitens resigned his commission in the Navy Reserve on May 1, 2021, two months after he launched his U.S. Senate campaign.
Greitens taught public service at the Truman School of Public Affairs and was an adjunct professor of business ethics in the MBA program at the Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis.
After returning from Iraq, Greitens founded The Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization that places veterans with volunteer organizations to encourage public service, build community connections, and improve career skills.
In total, as CEO of The Mission Continues, Greitens received $700,000 in compensation from the nonprofit. He worked without pay in 2007 and 2008; was paid $150,000 from mid-2010 through 2011 after receiving a grant from the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation; and was paid $200,000 in each of the years 2011, 2012, and 2013. He stepped down as CEO in 2014 and left the board of the organization in 2015. Greitens's compensation as head of the nonprofit became an issue in his subsequent political campaigns. Experts on nonprofit compensation said that his salary as head of the nonprofit was higher than similarly situated activities, although not extravagant in light of the organization's mission, as well as Greitens's education and career background.
The Associated Press reported in March 2018 that Greitens had used the charity's email account to arrange political meetings about his gubernatorial campaign, which is prohibited by federal tax law. He was also accused of using the charity's list of donors to raise money for his campaign, a violation of campaign finance law. On December 28, 2018, The Kansas City Star reported that the Missouri attorney general had dropped the investigation against the nonprofit.
Greitens's military experience formed the basis for his career as a speaker at corporate events and as author of three books:
- Strength & Compassion: Photographs and Essays (2008): a collection of photographs and essays with a foreword by Rwandan humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina and an introduction by Bobby Muller, cofounder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Photographs by Greitens were displayed at an exhibition at the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum in December 2014. Strength and Compassion won the grand prize winner of the 2009 New York Book Festival.
- The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011): a memoir focusing on Greitens's humanitarian work and military experiences. The book ranked 10th on The New York Times bestseller list for hardcover nonfiction in May 2011. The next year, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt also released a young adult edition, The Warrior's Heart.
- Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015): The book is structured as a series of 23 letters that Greitens says he wrote to a fellow SEAL struggling with PTSD. In a June 2018 letter, Representative Jay Barnes, the Republican chair of the special state House committee that investigated allegations of misconduct against Greitens, said that the committee had evidence suggesting that Greitens "may have engaged in criminal fraud" related to a grant he received to write and promote the book. Barnes also said, "Though not criminal, other documents in the Committee's possession raise suspicions of literary fraud regarding Resilience." According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, an early manuscript of the book was arranged as a collection of "thoughts" rather than a compilation of letters to a veteran. Danny Laub, a former political aide to Greitens, testified that in 2015, he was paid from grant funds from the John Templeton Foundation, administered by Washington University in St. Louis, to promote the work while simultaneously setting up Greitens's gubernatorial campaign. A university investigation concluded, "Based on the materials available to us and within the scope of our review, we found nothing improper about the administration or use of the grant funds." But Barnes said that his committee had access to additional evidence the university lacked, and released a memorandum in 2018 "asserting that Greitens had misrepresented how much he worked on the book, used grant funds for political purposes and failed to fully disclose his income sources on conflict-of-interest forms filed with the university."
Greitens was a popular speaker before his political career. His second and third books displayed the SEALs insignia on their covers, and he charged as much as $75,000 for a speech in Asia. In 2016 an anonymous group charged in a YouTube video that he had exaggerated his record in books and television appears and was unduly benefiting from his time in the SEALs; Greitens responded by releasing his military records and publishing a video he uploaded to his channel with testimonials from SEALs and Marines with whom he had served.
Switch to the Republican Party
Greitens grew up as a Democrat. In 2015, he wrote a Fox News op-ed announcing that he had become a Republican. He said he had been raised in the tradition of Harry Truman and had even been recruited as a Democratic candidate for Congress, but was pushed rightward after seeing the Department of Veterans Affairs fail to help many of his brothers in arms. He recalled being angered at how the Democrats' only solution was to "spend more money" on the VA. "The problem is that most Democrats seem to think more money and bigger government are the solutions to virtually every single problem", he wrote. He said he believed Democrats no longer had the right ideas to stand up for the middle class.
2016 Missouri gubernatorial election
On September 26, 2015, Greitens announced his candidacy for governor of Missouri as a Republican. Shortly after a June 30, 2016, quarterly deadline for filing campaign contributions, he received the largest ever single contribution in a Missouri campaign, $1.975 million, which meant he did not have to reveal it until October, months after the primary. The source was a previously unknown Superpac, "SEALS for Truth". SEALS for Truth had received the money from the American Policy Coalition (APC), another Superpac, on the same day APC received the entire amount. Greitens had assured voters he intended to increase transparency while reducing corruption in state politics as a campaign focus. APC, about which there was almost no information online, was headed by Ohio lawyer David Langdon, who had incorporated it in Kentucky in 2015. ..... On March 12, 2017, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Kansas City Star editorial boards published a joint editorial criticizing Greitens for "secret fundraising and secret spending" and for tactics such as ordering that "[s]ecurity staffers block reporters from getting close to him". In 2018, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, announced the opening of an investigation of Greitens's 2016 campaign financing.
Greitens won the August 2 Republican primary with 236,250 votes (34.6%) to businessman John Brunner's 169,425 (24.8%), Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder's 141,498 (20.7%), and former Speaker Catherine Hanaway's 136,350 (19.9%). Democrat-turned-Republican Greitens faced Republican-turned-Democrat Chris Koster in the general election on November 8, 2016, and won with 51.3% of the vote to Koster's 45.4%.
On April 28, 2017, the Missouri Ethics Commission fined Greitens's campaign $1,000 for violating state campaign ethics rules regarding campaign disclosure. Greitens did not contest the fine.
Tenure and political positions
Greitens identifies himself as a conservative outsider, and is a member of the Republican Party. He has called himself a "Make America Great Again" candidate, and has often voiced opposition to leading Republicans such as Mitch McConnell for being insufficiently conservative. He has opposed federal matching grants for state projects, saying they "unbalance" state budgets, and has voiced support for block grants instead.
Greitens took office as governor on January 9, 2017. His initial Cabinet was:
|Cabinet Position||Name||Appointment Date|
|Administrator of the Office of Administration||Sarah Steelman||January 6, 2017|
|Director of the Department of Agriculture||Chris Chinn||December 27, 2017|
|Director of the Department of Corrections||Anne Precythe||December 21, 2016|
|Director of the Department of Natural Resources||Carol Comer||January 18, 2017|
|Director of the Department of Public Safety||Charles Juden||January 2, 2017|
|Director of the Department of Revenue||Joel Walters||February 14, 2017|
|Director of the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions, and Professional Registration||Chlora Lindely-Myers||February 14, 2017|
|Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services||Randall W. Williams||February 9, 2017|
|Director of the Department of Economic Development||Rob Dixon||June 2, 2017|
|Director of the Department of Social Services||Steve Corsi||May 19, 2017|
|Director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations||Anna Hui||March 30, 2017|
Greitens has supported public infrastructure investment as a tool for economic development and to reduce unemployment. As governor, he introduced a $25 million "Jobs and Infrastructure Fund" to state-sponsor construction of communications, utilities, transportation and other infrastructure at the request of private companies looking to expand into Missouri. He initially opposed public funding or tax credits for construction of the Centene Stadium in St. Louis on land owned by the Missouri Department of Transportation, but later said he was "willing to work with" investors.
Greitens opposed the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, calling it "irresponsible socialist legislation". He has voiced support for continuing construction of the Keystone Pipeline.
Economic, labor, and regulatory issues
In February 2017, Greitens signed a bill making Missouri the 28th right-to-work state. In response, unions that opposed the law filed a referendum to overturn it, and on August 7, 2018, Missouri voters voted to overturn it.
The Greitens administration sided with agriculture industry in opposing the Obama administration's proposed "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) rule.
Greitens supported the Missouri Steel Mill Bill, legislation that allowed utility regulators to approve lower electricity rates for industrial companies using large amounts of energy. The legislation was drafted in response to the March 2016 Noranda smelter closure. During the final weeks of the regular 2017 legislative session, the Missouri House of Representatives passed an amendment by State Representative Don Rone Jr. designed to help bring industrial jobs to the state. The bill met with opposition in the Senate led by Senator Doug Libla and failed. Greitens called a special legislative session in May 2017, bringing the Missouri General Assembly back to the Capitol to pass the legislation one week after its regular session adjourned. After calling the session, he held rallies urging lawmakers to approve the bill. Ultimately, the General Assembly passed the legislation and Greitens signed it into law on June 16, 2017. After the special session, Magnitude 7 Metals LLC announced that the firm would restart two of the plant's three production lines. After the announcement, Greitens accepted an invitation to meet with President Donald Trump at the White House to discuss jobs.
In 2018, Greitens proposed a package of $800 million in state tax cuts. He specifically proposed a 10% reduction in the top individual state income tax rate (reducing it from 5.9% to 5.3%) and a reduction in the state corporate income tax rate by almost one-third, from 6.25% to 4.25%, which would give Missouri the nation's second-lowest corporate rate. Greitens also proposed the creation of a non-refundable state tax credit for low-income workers, and applying the Missouri sales tax to online purchases for the first time.
Greitens staunchly opposed proposals to accept the Medicaid expansion in Missouri under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The proposals would have expanded health insurance coverage eligibility to about 300,000 Missourians. Greitens also called for the ACA to be repealed and replaced.
..... In 2018, he issued an executive order to create a prescription drug monitoring program, directing the Department of Health and Senior Services to build a database to help identify suspicious patterns of prescriptions of controlled substances, including opioids. Greitens was widely praised for calling attention to the epidemic, but received some criticism from state legislators who considered the order an abuse of executive power. Three months after the order was issued, no prescription monitoring program was functionally operating, leaving Missouri de facto the only state without one. The program was later recodified by the Missouri Senate and signed into law by Governor Mike Parson in 2021.
Greitens administration officials sent notices to 8,000 doctors who were not following best practices for prescribing opioids within the state's Medicaid program, instructing them to change their prescribing patterns and consider referring people on long-term opioids to addiction programs. ....."
Low-income housing tax credits
In 2017 the Missouri Housing Development Commission voted 8 to 2 to zero out the state's low-income housing tax credit for 2018. Greitens phoned into the meeting and voted to zero out the tax credits while Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson voted to keep them. Greitens wrote, "special interests abused low income housing tax breaks to make themselves rich."
After Greitens's appointments to the commission and the 2017 vote, Missouri did not issue $140 million in state low-income housing tax credits. The low-income housing tax credit program was cut from over $1.3 billion over the previous decade to zero. Greitens accused the low-income housing industry of conspiring to upend his political career though legal troubles and the threat of impeachment.
Missouri National Guard
In 2017, Trump appointed Greitens to the Council of Governors, an advisory group of governors dealing with issues such as national defense, the national guard and defense support to local authorities.
In 2017, Greitens announced the Missouri Army National Guard would add nearly 800 soldiers by 2019.
In February 2018, Greitens announced that members of the Missouri National Guard would train with the Israeli Home Front Command. Missouri is one of four states—along with Colorado, Illinois and Massachusetts—to train with the command, a branch of the Israel Defense Forces that focuses on civilian protection during a war or crisis.
In April 2018, Greitens signed into law legislation allowing those in the Missouri National Guard and the armed forces reserves to deduct their military income from their state taxes.
Greitens's first two executive orders banned employees in the executive branch from accepting gifts from lobbyists and froze all new regulations through February 2017. In November 2018, a statewide referendum put heavy restrictions on lobbyist gifts, virtually banning them.
In February 2017, 170 gravestones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Jewish Cemetery in University City, Missouri, were toppled and overturned. Greitens and Vice President Mike Pence participated in the cleanup effort.
Greitens appointed Jackson County Circuit Judge W. Brent Powell to the Missouri Supreme Court in April 2017.
As governor, Greitens signed tort reform measures.
In June 2017, Greitens signed Missouri's first Foster Care Bill of Rights, which outlined specific measures designed to improve the safety and quality of life of children in Missouri's foster care system. As first lady, Sheena Greitens focused on efforts to improve the lives of foster children and foster parents. The Greitens administration waived the $15 fee for foster children to obtain copies of their birth certificates; made appointments to child protection boards, many of which had previously been able to function due to lack of a quorum; and joined the National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise, an interstate compact to facilitate adoption and fostering across state lines.
As he took office, Greitens signed an executive order banning state employees in his administration from accepting or soliciting gifts from lobbyists. The order also banned employees in the governor's office from lobbying the executive branch while Greitens was in office. The order was later loosened by Governor Mike Parson, who allowed gifts to members of the executive branch. As lieutenant governor, Parson received meals and gifts from lobbyists worth $2,752 in his first six months in office, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
In 2017, Greitens criticized fellow Republicans Denny Hoskins and Paul Wieland on social media. Hoskins and Wieland were the two Republican senators who voted to allow raises in legislative pay to take effect. (Six other senators cast no vote on the matter.) Greitens had personally pressured lawmakers to vote down the raise. Hoskins and Wieland described their meetings with Greitens as tense, with Wieland in particular characterizing the meetings as intimidation and saying that he felt insulted.
Greitens approved a plan to cut more than two dozen state boards and commissions, in line with a 2017 Boards and Commissions Task Force report that outlined ways to eliminate 439 gubernatorial appointments and to eliminate or merge numerous state boards and commissions. He ordered the sale of 30 cars from the state's Office of Administration General Services fleet and the sale of one of the state's two state-owned passenger planes. Greitens released $4 million in biodiesel facility subsidies, which was originally withheld because of concerns about a prospective state budget shortfall.
Greitens ended a longstanding state policy against using tax dollars to aid religious groups. His decision came a week before the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer. The lawsuit challenged a 2012 decision by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to deny the Columbia church a grant to replace the gravel on its playground with softer, safer material. Greitens instructed the Department of Natural Resources to allow religious organizations to apply for and be eligible to receive those grants.
2022 U.S. Senate campaign
In 2020, Greitens announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination in the 2022 United States Senate election in Missouri to succeed the retiring Roy Blunt. Greitens was endorsed by former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, and Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, the latter joining his campaign as a national chair. ..... Notable Republican opponents of Greitens's candidacy included Karl Rove, Johnny DeStefano, and Senator Rick Scott, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. After Greitens's wife filed an affidavit against him in March 2022 accusing him of physical abuse, Senator Josh Hawley (who endorsed another candidate, Vicky Hartzler, the previous month) called upon Greitens to drop out.
Republican megadonor Richard Uihlein funded a pro-Greitens super PAC ("Team PAC"), contributing $2.5 million to it. Other Republican megadonors, including Rex Sinquefield and August Busch, aligned against Greitens. A Republican-funded anti-Greitens super PAC ("Show Me Values PAC") was created in June 2022 and ran $6.2 million in ads through late July 2022.
Like other Republican Senate candidates in 2022, Greitens promoted the "Great Replacement" conspiracy theory, a far-right notion that gained currency within the Republican Party; he also accused Joe Biden of adopting policies that "are an assault on the entire idea of America." In June 2022, Greitens released a violent campaign advertisement showing him bursting into a house, wielding a shotgun and flanked by men dressed in full military gear carrying assault rifles. In the ad, Greitens declared: "Join the MAGA crew. Get a RINO hunting permit. There's no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn't expire until we save our country." ("RINO" stands for "Republican in name only"). The ad was widely criticized, removed from Facebook, and given a warning label on Twitter. Some Republicans, such as Missouri Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden and U.S. Representatives Barbara Comstock and Adam Kinzinger, condemned the ad. Greitens's campaign denied that the ad condones violence.
As a candidate, Greitens sought the endorsement of Donald Trump. Trump initially made no endorsement, instead praising Billy Long. Republican officials, including Scott, waged a campaign to persuade Trump not to endorse Greitens. On the eve of the primary election, Trump issued a statement endorsing "ERIC" in the primary, leaving it unclear whether he was endorsing Eric Greitens and Eric Schmitt, both of whom laid claim to the endorsement. In the primary election, Greitens was defeated, coming in third place; Schmitt won with 45.7% of the vote; Hartzler received 22.1%, Greitens 18.9%, and Long 5%. Greitens carried a few Bootheel counties, but no other region of the state.
Greitens's marriage to his first wife, Rebecca Wright, ended in divorce in 2003.
Greitens was married to Sheena Elise Chestnut from 2011 to 2020. They have two sons.
In 2013, Greitens made a cameo appearance, along with other post–9/11 military veterans, in the science fiction film Star Trek Into Darkness. He is featured in Joe Klein's book Charlie Mike: A True Story of Heroes Who Brought Their Mission Home.
Missouri's first Jewish governor, Greitens attends the Reform B'nai El synagogue.
As a candidate and as governor, Greitens often publicly touted his fitness and publicized physical feats. He was a boxer in college and has a black belt in taekwondo.
Honors and awards
Greitens was also named the 2010 Reader of the Year by Outside magazine.
In Spanish: Eric Greitens para niños
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