A former rising star, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens now faces a felony charge and the GOP is spinning a wild tale.
After Gov. Eric Greitens was arrested Thursday and charged with a felony in connection to an unfolding blackmail scandal, the Missouri Republican Party needed a villain to blame.
On Friday they found one: billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
Not known as a player in Missouri politics, Soros has nonetheless — and inexplicably — been cast as the bad guy. The comically desperate ploy by the state GOP only adds to the sense of mayhem that now surrounds the scandal-plagued Greitens. It’s also emblematic of a state party that seems to be unraveling.
Last summer, the governor, a former rising star of Republican politics, admitted he had had an affair.
During the affair, it was alleged that Greitens took a picture of the woman without her consent while she was nude and blindfolded, and threatened to use the it to keep her from going public with their extramarital relationship.
On Thursday, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner’s office announced that a grand jury had indicted Greitens for felony invasion of privacy. He was arrested and arraigned Thursday in St. Louis. He was later released on his own recognizance.
How do you dig out of political hole like that? Apparently, you blame a liberal billionaire.
“Kim Gardner has received more than $200,000 from George Soros groups,” Sam Cooper, the executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, said in a statement Friday morning, calling the governor’s indictment “a political hit job.”
What’s the supposedly scandalous Soros connection? Gardner accepted campaign donations from a Soros-backed super PAC in 2016.
What Soros had to do with a St. Louis grand jury returning an indictment against Greitens isn’t quite clear.
Soros has long been a favorite villain of the GOP and conservative media. For years, he’s been depicted as an all-powerful source of evil in the world. And he’s often trotted out when the right-wing needs a bad guy. He’s also often attacked with anti-Semitic language and rhetoric.
In truth, Soros is a billionaire philanthropist who has given away more than $30 billion of his personal fortune to Open Society Foundations’ work around the world.
It’s unlikely that blaming Soros will do much to help Greitens keep his job in the state capitol.