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Greitens ‘RINO Hunting’ ad has led to threats to his ex-wife, attorney says

Gary Stamper (left) attorney for Eric Greitens speaks in court while Sheena Greitens (right) and her attorney Helen Wade (second from right) listen during a hearing on Thursday, June 23.
David Lieb
The Associated Press
Gary Stamper (left) attorney for Eric Greitens speaks in court while Sheena Greitens (right) and her attorney Helen Wade (second from right) listen during a hearing on Thursday, June 23.

The backlash to U.S. Senate candidate and former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ ad that depicts him brandishing a gun and going ‘RINO Hunting’ has affected his personal life in addition to his political one.

During a court hearing in Columbia on Thursday as a part of the child custody case between Greitens and his ex-wife, Sheena, her attorney Helen Wade said the ad has led to her client receiving death threats.

“She’s scared. This has not happened before,” Wade said.

The online ad encourages people to get a hunting permit for RINO’s, an acronym used against perceived moderate Republicans meaning “Republican in name only.”

While Eric Greitens has said the ad was supposed to be a humorous metaphor, Wade requested in court that he release a statement condemning any threats against Sheena Greitens that came as a result of the ad.

Since Eric Greitens was not in court, Wade said she was disappointed he would not be able to issue the statement in person.

“I believe Mr. Greitens has great power to ensure the safety of my client by simply stating openly and publicly that he absolutely denounces the use of any sort of violence, whether it be gun violence or otherwise against her,” Wade said.

Gary Stamper, an attorney for Eric Greitens, called it disingenuous for the opposing counsel to suggest that he would want harm to befall the mother of their children. Stamper also criticized the lack of notice on the request.

“If they want to have a press conference, they can have it on the courthouse steps,” Stamper said.

Wade cited two written examples of threats to Sheena Greitens, an email written to her and a tweet.

Judge Leslie Schneider said she wanted this part of the case to be resolved Thursday.

In a statement published after the hearing, Stamper said that after reviewing the two documents provided by the opposing counsel, he and Greitens did not see any evidence of death threats. Despite that assessment, they did denounce both.

The tweet, which was read aloud in court, threatened Eric Greitens as well as his family, saying in part, “Wouldn’t it be awful if someone hunted down and killed Eric Greitens and his entire family.”

It is the latest development in the case between the Greitens, who divorced in 2020. Sheena Greitens is petitioning to move the custody case to Texas, where she lives.

In a March affidavit, Greitens accused her ex-husband of physical and emotional abuse of her and their children.

Greitens has denied those allegations and has accused his ex-wife of conspiring against him with Republicans such as Karl Rove and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell to damage his political career.

Schneider did not rule on moving the case to Texas. The next court date is scheduled for July 15.

Follow Sarah Kellogg on Twitter: @sarahkkellogg

Copyright 2022 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Sarah Kellogg is a first year graduate student at the University of Missouri studying public affairs reporting. She spent her undergraduate days as a radio/television major and reported for KBIA. In addition to reporting shifts, Sarah also hosted KBIA’s weekly education show Exam, was an afternoon newscaster and worked on the True/False podcast. Growing up, Sarah listened to episodes of Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! with her parents during long car rides. It’s safe to say she was destined to end up in public radio.