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Judge grants Eric Greitens access to ex-wife’s phone records in custody case

Judge Leslie Schneider speaks into a microphone from the court bench.
Elizabeth Underwood
Missouri Independent
Judge Leslie Schneider calls the Greitens v. Greitens case on Tuesday, April 26, 2022 in the 13th Judicial Circuit of Missouri at the Boone County Court House in Columbia, Mo.

Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens will get to look at his ex-wife’s telephone records from the days before she filed explosive allegations of child and spousal abuse against the Republican Senate candidate.

In an order dated April 28, Associate Circuit Judge Leslie Schneider overruled Sheena Greitens’ motion to quash subpoenas for her phone logs and text messages. In the same order, Schneider denied Eric Greitens’ request for phone records for his former campaign manager, Austin Chambers, and Sheena Greitens’ sister, Catherine Linkul.

The order was posted Thursday on Casenet, the state’s online court record system, and did not include any information about Schneider’s reasoning for the decision. Schneider ruled two days after hearing oral arguments from Gary Stamper, Eric Greitens’ attorney; Helen Wade, Sheena Greitens’ attorney; Kurt Schaefer, attorney for Chambers; and David Niemeier, attorney for Linkul.

Eric Greitens is seeking phone records in an effort to prove Sheena Greitens conspired with his political enemies, including former presidential adviser Karl Rove and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to write the affidavit that contains the abuse allegations and to make sure they were well-publicized.

Eric Greitens addresses the media.
Madeline Carter
Missouri Independent
Eric Greitens addresses the media after filing to run in the Missouri Senate primary on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022 at the James C Kirkpatrick State Information Center in Jefferson City.

In sworn statements to the court, Sheena Greitens has said she did not discuss the affidavit with anyone except Wade prior to the date it was filed.

Stamper argued to Schneider that the phone records were 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.

Wade argued that the phone records have nothing to do with the underlying issue.

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

Sheena Greitens and Eric Greitens were divorced in 2020, two years after he resigned as governor as part of a deal to dismiss criminal charges. She is trying to move jurisdiction of their child custody arrangements to Texas, where she is on the faculty of the University of Texas, from Boone County, where she lived while working on the faculty of the University of Missouri.

Eric Greitens is attempting a political comeback in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

He has consistently led or been in a statistical tie with other major candidates in the 21-person contest. No public poll has been conducted since the week after Sheena Greitens’ affidavit became public on March 21.

The subpoenas, which sought information directly from Verizon and AT&T, sought the call logs and text messages for Sheena Greitens, Chambers, Linkul, Rove and one other unidentified person for the period Feb. 1 through March 22. The request for Rove’s records was dropped before Schneider conducted the April 26 hearing on motions to quash the subpoenas.

Dylan Johnson, campaign manager for Eric Greitens, issued a statement Thursday again accusing Sheena Greitens of lying in her affidavit and stating that medical and dental records for their two sons show no abuse had occurred.

“We expect that the facts will show, sadly, that she coordinated with Mitch McConnell’s lieutenants and Karl Rove to peddle these false allegations,” Johnson said in the statement emailed to The Independent. “Ultimately, we look forward to gaining access to their records as well.”

A statement issued by Stamper repeated arguments he has made in filings, that Sheena Greitens had a duty to disclose the allegations in her March 21 affidavit during the original divorce case.

Sheena Greitens, the former first lady of Missouri and an associate professor in the LBJ School Of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, teaches foreign policy with a focus on East Asia, authoritarian politics and American national security.
LBJ School Of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin
Sheena Greitens, the former first lady of Missouri.

“A neutral observer might conclude Mother’s admitted silence through the discord common to failing marriages while simultaneously concocting an advantageous strategy to circumvent a previously agreed upon court order suggests her motivation might be less than honorable,” read the statement, which was not attributed to anyone by name.

Wade did not respond to an email from The Independent seeking comment. Schaefer declined to comment on the decision.

The couple is scheduled to be in court on Tuesday for a hearing on Eric Greitens’ motion for an order to compel Sheena Greitens to comply with the visitation order issued along with their 2020 divorce decree. Wade has asked Schneider to move a hearing set for May 27 on Sheena Greitens’ motion to move the case to Texas to Tuesday.

While that motion does not state a reason for moving the hearing forward, in a March 31 filing Sheena Greitens said she was enduring daily attacks on social media from Eric Greitens and his allies. She was trying to refrain from public statements, she said, but she would find it hard to remain publicly silent until May 27.

“I would like to continue to restrict my comments on this to the courtroom, but it will be difficult to do so if we cannot resolve the question of where this case should be decided until May 27, because I expect I will have to go through two months of untrue public attacks on my character, motherhood and professionalism,” she said.

Stamper objected to adding the question of jurisdiction to the Tuesday hearing because of the lack of time to prepare. Stamper suggested instead that Schneider move arguments set for Tuesday to the May 27 hearing.

Missouri Independentis part of States Newsroom, a network of news outlets supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Missouri Independent maintains editorial independence. 

Rudi Keller covers the state budget, energy and state legislature as the Deputy Editor at The Missouri Independent.