There is an old adage that says “A bad penny always turns up.” Allow me to focus on one Missouri prodigal son whose name keeps turning up in state politics: Eric Greitens.

Our former disgraced governor has announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate to replace the retiring Roy Blunt, one in a growing field of candidates leading up to the 2022 Republican primary election next August.

Using Mr. Peabody’s WABAC Machine, let’s take a short look back to when, as governor, Greitens was the subject of allegations of sexual misconduct, blackmail and campaign finances violations. In June 2018, he resigned from the governorship, and many hoped that it would be the last we heard from him.

We were wrong.

The saga continued, and in 2020, Greitens was fined $178,000 by the Missouri Ethics Commission for two campaign finance ethics violations concerning the misuse of his gubernatorial campaign funds.

By March 2021, Greitens decided that he would be the perfect candidate for U.S. Senate representing the great state of Missouri. But it did not take long before a new scandal caught up with him. The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center recently filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission alleging that Greitens misappropriated $100,000 in campaign contributions from corporations and his gubernatorial campaign funds.

In a nutshell, federal law says money raised for a statewide office cannot be used to finance a federal campaign and that no more than $2,900 can be directly contributed for federal elections from any one entity. Although the election for U.S. Senate is a statewide vote, it is for a federal elected official.

Dylan Johnson, Greitens’ campaign manager, claims that George Soros, the 91-year-old Democratic donor, billionaire and philanthropist, was behind the attack on the former governor.

Johnson said, “No Gubernatorial campaign funds were used for the Senate campaign, and these ludicrous allegations from a radical, Soros-funded, left-wing D.C. activist group have no basis in reality.”

Because these allegations concern a federal campaign, the Federal Election Commission can sanction or fine a campaign and candidate for the misuse of funds. Unfortunately, Congress has declawed the FEC to the point that it may do no more than give the former governor a letter of warning.

Will Greitens pull out of the senatorial race? I doubt it, but ...

The question is who former President Trump will endorse in the primaries. Representatives Vicki Hartzler and Billy Long, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, the gun-wielding Mark McCloskey and four other unknowns are also vying for Trump’s approval and the senatorial candidacy.

Even if the golden hand does not touch Greitens, the former SEAL is trained to hold his ground.

The problem, as I see it, is that the Missouri electorate has a very short memory and must be reminded of Greitens’ wrongdoings. Even if he receives Trump’s endorsement, will he be forgiven by the Trumpers because “any friend of Trump is a friend of ours?” They did, after all, give The Donald a free pass on his own alleged campaign finance violations, his sexual misconduct, his degrading of women, his multiple affairs and marriages and his massive mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, too many believe that Trump was appointed by God to be president despite his wrongdoings, and the Missourian he endorses for Senate will become an archangel in the governance of this nation.

Greitens has already been seen with his weapons of choice in his new senatorial campaign commercials: a Gatling-style machine gun and an assault rifle, much like Saint Michael the Archangel and his sword.

OK, Democratic candidate Lucas Kunce is also seen with his assault rifle, but never fires it, in a mocking tribute to Greitens and McCloskey.

Missouri is the “Show-Me State,” but it will be curious to see if right-wing conservative Trump supporters push Greitens to prove his worth as a person and politician, or if they forgive him because of his political stance on abortion and religious freedom, and if he receives Trump’s endorsement.

I certainly hope he does not, but that leaves a cauldron of Republican politicians who have not shown their worth over the years or are in the race with no experience in the world of politics.

With that said, the Democratic lineup is not really that strong with its contenders, with no statewide names. They will also need a good, solid campaign focused on the issues and not just designed to defeat Donald Trump.

Greitens and Schmitt are the only statewide knowns in the Republican race, and it will be interesting to see how the cards are dealt for the August 2022 Republican primary elections.

David Rosman is an award- winning editor, writer and professional speaker. You can read more of David’s commentaries at columbiamissourian.com and InkandVoice.com.


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