Attorney calls Eric Greitens subpoenas ‘a fishing expedition’ during Boone County hearing

Former governor seeks phone records of ex-wife Sheena Greitens, others to dispute allegations of spousal and child abuse

By: - April 26, 2022 12:33 pm

Associate Circuit Judge Leslie Schneider speaks during a Tuesday hearing on subpoenas seeking phone records in the child custody case of Sheena Greitens and former Gov. Eric Greitens (Elizabeth Underwood/Missouri Independent).

A Boone County judge will rule soon, perhaps by this week, whether former Gov. Eric Greitens will get access to his ex-wife Sheena Greitens’ telephone records as he attempts to prove his political enemies are behind explosive allegations of spousal and child abuse.

Associate Circuit Judge Leslie Schneider said at the end of a hearing Tuesday that she will not be able to issue a decision for a couple of days, but that she would do it “as soon as possible.”

Sheena Greitens, in a March 21 affidavit filed in the couple’s ongoing child custody case, accused her former husband of striking her and taking her phone and car keys in April 2018 and striking one of their children in 2019, causing a tooth to become infected and later removed surgically.

The allegations came as Eric Greitens was leading the polls for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. In response, Eric Greitens has accused his ex-wife of colluding with his foes to release the affidavit to damage his campaign, calling the allegations lies.

The phone records have nothing to do with the underlying issue, Helen Wade, attorney for Sheena Greitens, told Schneider.

“The conspiracy theory that Mr. Greitens has concocted is just that – it’s not real,” Wade said.

Attorney Gary Stamper, however, said seeking the phone records was the fastest way to determine whether Sheena Greitens worked with political opponents to deliver the March 21 affidavit to the Associated Press minutes after it was filed.

“I am interested in knowing who was talking to who at or near the time of the leak in an effort to confirm a sad suspicion,” Stamper said. “I hope I am wrong.”

Sheena Greitens wants to move the case to Texas, where she lives now with the couple’s two sons. The affidavit was filed to back up her request to move the case.

A hearing on that request is scheduled for May 27.

The two subpoenas at issue in Tuesday’s hearing — one sent to Verizon and one to AT&T — sought 57 days of call logs and text messages for phones owned by Sheena Greitens, her sister Catherine Linkul, former Greitens campaign manager Austin Chambers and one number that has not been identified with a particular person.

“These records have nothing to do with the question of where this case should be ultimately litigated,” Wade said.

The subpoenas also initially sought the phone records for former presidential advisor Karl Rove, but that request has been dropped after discussions with Rove’s attorney, Stamper said.

Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, was elected governor in 2016. He resigned on June 1, 2018, amid allegations of violent sexual misconduct and an investigation of his campaign finances.

Helen Wade, attorney for Sheena Greitens, questions Boone County Circuit Clerk Christy Blakemore during a hearing Tuesday in Sheena Greitens’ custody dispute with her ex-husband, former Gov. Eric Greitens (Elizabeth Underwood/Missouri Independent).

A Missouri House committee was considering whether to recommend his impeachment. As part of the deal for his resignation, a felony charger accusing him of stealing from a veterans charity was dropped. 

Sheena Greitens filed for divorce in 2020 in Boone County, where she worked at the time as a faculty member of the University of Missouri. She is seeking to  have ongoing issues over their children moved to Texas, where she is on the faculty of the University of Texas.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Wade told Schneider that Sheena Greitens speaks frequently to her sister and to Chambers, who she said is a close friend and who shares an apartment with her sister in Washington, D.C.

The only legitimate reason to see the phone records, Wade said, would be if Sheena Greitens denied something and Stamper wanted to prove she was lying. She has not denied speaking to Linkul and Chambers, Wade noted.

“This is a fishing expedition with a specific collateral purpose,” Wade said. “It is overboard and it is for the purpose of harassment. It is for intimidation.”

Stamper said he would accept appointment of a special master to review the 57 days of phone records being sought to determine if they contain evidence that support. The special master would look for specific numbers to determine if communication occurred, he said.

“If it’s not there,” Stamper said, “then my saddest suspicion is not true.”

Both Chambers and Linkul were represented and their attorneys, Kurt Schaefer and David Niemeier, respectively, who both urged Schneider to quash the subpoenas.

“As intriguing as all this this is, it has nothing to do with Mr. Chambers,” Schaefer said. “His phone records are collateral to this issue. We still believe that the subpoena for all his phone records, 57 days, is an abuse of process. There is no basis for it.”

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Rudi Keller
Rudi Keller

Rudi Keller covers the state budget and the legislature. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, he spent 22 of his 32 years in journalism covering Missouri government and politics for the Columbia Daily Tribune, where he won awards for spot news and investigative reporting.