Exclusive — Donor Confidante Says Karl Rove Had Prior Knowledge of Eric Greitens’s Ex-Wife’s Allegations Before Filing, Rove Denies

Jeff Roberson, Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo

GOP establishment consultant Karl Rove had prior knowledge of contents of a now-public filing that Sheena Greitens, the ex-wife of former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, filed in a dispute over the parenting structure for their two boys, a top confidante of GOP mega-donors told Breitbart News exclusively. Rove, in response, issued a statement to Breitbart News denying the donor confidante’s account of events.

In addition, a top ally of Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell employs Sheena Greitens’s sister at three different political consulting firms.

Rove, who was once the right-hand political consultant of former President George W. Bush and is now close with many top GOP donors, told a top confidante of GOP donors nearly two weeks before Sheena Greitens filed her complaint with a state court in Missouri that something like it was forthcoming, per that donor-connected Republican who spoke on the record with Breitbart News. In response, Rove denied making comments this person said he made.

This revelation gained additional significance because Sheena Greitens released a press statement on Tuesday evening which said, in part, that she did not discuss the contents of her affidavit before filing it in court with anyone other than her attorney—and only after she filed it did she tell close family members. But if that were true, then how could Karl Rove have known?

An attorney for Sheena Greitens has not replied to a detailed request for comment for this story.

Then there’s this: Sheena Greitens’ sister works for not one, but three different political consulting firms run by a top ally of Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell has a clear vested interest in seeing Eric Greitens’ U.S. Senate campaign fail, as Greitens has very prominently called for the removal of McConnell as the GOP leader in the U.S. Senate.

The timing of this filing is also significant in that it comes just as previous allegations against Greitens began to completely crumble. The former FBI agent, William Tisaby, who a George Soros-funded local prosecutor hired to investigate then-Gov. Greitens just this week cut a plea deal after facing seven felony counts including fabricating evidence and perjury. The actual prosecutor, Kim Gardner, faces an ethics complaint of her own and could possibly lose her law license or be disbarred at an upcoming April hearing for her alleged misconduct in the case. That comes after an ethics commission in Missouri cleared Greitens himself of wrongdoing previously, leading the front-running U.S. Senate candidate to claim he has “total exoneration” on the now discredited previous charges. So that all begs the question of why new allegations would surface now, who might be connected to or trying to politically benefit from them, and who may be using them to their advantage in the contentious primary that could set the tone for the future of the Republican Party nationally.

Eric Greitens, for his part, is not going down without a fight. “They are completely false allegations,” he said on a local radio program on Thursday morning. “And let’s point out that what a coincidence that on the very week, the very week when William Tisaby pleads guilty, on the very week when we are going to be fully exonerated and everyone is going to see this entire criminal conspiracy that Soros funded come crashing down, on that very week they release another series of terrible, false allegations. It isn’t just me saying that they’re false. Anyone with any common sense knows that they’re false. I’ll tell you what we know now, here’s what we know now. Last week, while I was on spring break with my boys for eight days, and we’re having a great time—we’re hiking and biking and climbing and playing—while that was happening, that document was being produced, notarized, and distributed to the press in Washington, DC. We also now know, a story should come out in the next 24 to 48 hours, showing exactly who the political operatives were who were working on that story and exactly who the political operatives were who it was handed to.”

Regardless of whether it actually was—and regardless of the veracity or not of the allegations— the hit felt coordinated to many political observers given how quickly the entire national media and several of Eric Greitens’s political opponents seized on the narrative to try to attack him and drive him from the race.

It is possible that other candidates in the U.S. Senate primary also had prior knowledge of the then-forthcoming Sheena Greitens filing as early as last Friday. On a talk radio show in Missouri on Tuesday, former State Sen. John Lamping said that last Friday at a Lincoln Day dinner one of the candidates told him things were about to get nasty for Greitens.

“It’s interesting, I had a chance on Friday night to speak to all of the candidates,” Lamping said on 97.1 Talk FM. “One of them—I asked them all how it’s going and you know what they thought of the campaign so far. One of them said to me ‘well, it’s about to get real, real soon.’”

Lamping continued by saying he thinks every other candidate against Greitens was aware this was coming. “There’s no coincidence this was released yesterday at 10 o’clock Monday morning—I think all the campaigns were made aware of this coming out,” Lamping said. “You saw a pretty well-coordinated effort. Vicky [Hartzler] did a video pretty much right away in response to this news. This is ‘welcome to the campaign season, we’re four months out.’ Sadly, we’re probably not going to talk too much about issues but we’re going to focus on very personal issues like this.”

Not only did Rove have prior knowledge of the forthcoming accusations, the donor confidante said, but he offered that if the confidante would travel to Texas, Rove could set it up so the confidante could hear directly from her.

The confidante, Steve Hantler, confirmed the account on the record to Breitbart News when asked about it on Tuesday. Hantler is a well-known figure behind the scenes in the GOP donor community, and his credibility is clear. He rarely speaks on record with news outlets but is frequently involved in helping top conservative candidates and causes as well as serving as a go-between with GOP donors and candidates and groups.

Between 10 and 14 days before Sheena Greitens filed her complaint with the Boone County court in Missouri, Rove was on a call with Hantler in which Hantler says Rove explicitly stated that Eric Greitens’s ex-wife “is going to,” before the primary election, “make a statement or release something.”

Hantler has known Rove for decades—dating back to the 1990s—and describes Rove a close friend. He spoke to Breitbart News about this after the story came out earlier this week. He also told Greitens’ campaign for U.S. Senate about the call with Rove contemporaneously and before the filing was made, sources familiar with the matter told Breitbart News.

Hantler said in response to Rove during this phone call that he would call Sheena and ask her if it is true, and Rove replied “well, she won’t talk to you.”

“But, if you want to talk to her, I can set it up—fly down to Austin and the two of you will be able to talk,” Rove said, according to Hantler.

Rove does not deny that the call in question took place, but he does deny Hantler’s account of the call. In a written statement to Breitbart News, Rove said he did not have prior knowledge of the Sheena Greitens filing—and claimed that the account from Hantler, who is a supporter of Eric Greitens, should not be believed. Rove also argues it is “patently absurd” he would set up a meeting between Sheena Greitens and Hantler given Hantler’s political support for her ex-husband.

“Steve Hantler remains one of Eric Greitens’ biggest boosters even after the sex abuse scandal that Greitens admitted to, which explains why he wants to distract attention from these horrific new revelations,” Rove said. “It also explains why it’s patently absurd that I’d have proposed a meeting between him and Sheena Greitens, even if it were in my power to arrange it. While I didn’t know about Sheena Greitens’ statement until after it was filed with the court, I have told Steve and others for months that there was a lot of troubling information out there about Eric Greitens, and not just his sexual habits and home life.”

After Rove denied this happened, Breitbart News reached back out to Hantler, who reconfirmed his accounting of events and said he is “absolutely certain” that Rove made this offer. Hantler said that he has a “vivid recollection” that Rove made this offer because Hantler found it “odd” that Rove would suggest a meeting in Austin, Texas, instead of Missouri, where Hantler said he thought Sheena Greitens lived. Hantler subsequently learned that Sheena moved to Austin and then he said it made to sense to him.

After she and Eric divorced, Sheena Greitens moved to Austin, Texas—where Rove coincidentally also lives—as she is an associate professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Rove also teaches there and sources familiar with the matter say the two of them have interacted during the past year plus at the school and in other capacities.

Despite living in Austin, Texas, Sheena Greitens also apparently spent the week leading up to the filing of the document in Washington, DC, where her sister lives and works. The actual affidavit was, interestingly, notarized in the nation’s capital, not in the Texas capital. During this timeframe, for what it’s worth, Eric Greitens actually had their kids with him for over a week for spring break as part of the custody sharing agreement that Eric and Sheena had previously made. Eric Greitens made this point to back up his case on that local radio interview on Thursday morning where he said his ex-wife’s new allegations were “provably false” because he said they are “co-parents” and have had a years-long agreement to that effect.

“We have a joint custody plan,” Eric Greitens said. “In that plan, the boys spend the majority of their time with me—they’re with me all summer, they’re with me all Thanksgiving, they’re with me all spring break, and they’re with me every holiday weekend—Memorial Day weekend, Columbus Day weekend, President’s Day, every holiday weekend. That’s in addition to the time that I spend with them in Texas on school days. Now, ask yourself and ask all of your listeners, use your own judgment, if any of this were remotely true—if there was even a shred of truth to it—would my ex-wife and the mediator and the court all have decided that the best thing for those boys, my beautiful boys, is to spend the majority of their free time with their dad? It makes no sense.”

In addition to all of the above, there is another interesting fact about this whole development: Sheena’s sister Catherine Linkul now has a plum gig for a political consulting firm run by a close ally of Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell. Linkul is the vice president of strategy for P2 Pathway Public Affairs. That firm is run by a man named Phil Cox, who currently serves on the board of McConnell’s Super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund. Cox has other deep ties to McConnell including having been regularly quoted by media outlets backing up the Senate GOP leader.

Linkul also, according to her LinkedIn page, has since 2018 served as Vice President of two other political firms—GuidePost Strategies and 50 State. Both of those firms, according to their websites, are also run by Cox—and the GuidePost Strategies website boasts of his closeness to McConnell. Before linking up with McConnell’s allies, Linkul previously worked on Greitens’s successful 2016 gubernatorial campaign—aiding her sister’s then-husband in winning the governor’s mansion in the first place.

Linkul has not replied to a request for comment.

In many ways, this storyline seems eerily similar to allegations the ex-wife of now former U.S. Senate candidate in Pennsylvania Sean Parnell made against him—which led to him losing custody of his kids and dropping out of the Senate race late last year. That of course raises questions as to how these allegations came out, who knew about them ahead of time, and whether there is a political motive behind them or not. Answers to those questions may go a long way in determining the veracity of the allegations themselves.

It is no secret that Greitens had faced a litany of nasty allegations which led to his downfall as governor. But an official ethics review board in Missouri found no wrongdoing by him and the former FBI agent tasked by local prosecutors with investigating him has now pled guilty after facing charges of evidence tampering and perjury for misconduct in the Greitens case. Greitens has ridden what he calls a “total exoneration,” combined with a political environment favorable to outsiders like himself and former President Donald Trump, to the top of the polls in the U.S. Senate primary in Missouri this cycle.

Trump and Greitens, though having a bit of a rocky relationship at the beginning of this cycle, had been getting closer—so much so that many expected Trump to actually endorse Greitens ahead of the August primary. These fresh allegations from Sheena Greitens almost certainly nix any chance of that, and sources familiar with the matter say that Trump has told people he is not happy with this development. However, Greitens—whose lead had factored into it an understanding from the electorate that he did weather these previous scandals—may very well survive in the Show-Me State primary. Missouri has a reputation for rough-and-tumble politics, more so than other states, and even with his history the rest of the field has struggled to gain traction against him. Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) keep splitting the vote and dividing up key endorsements like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for Schmitt and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) for Hartzler. Neither endorsement seemed to move the needle, and Greitens has remained in the lead with the rest of the field divided.

Trump, who has not endorsed, even issued a statement earlier this week while making clear he is not endorsing him asking Missouri voters if they have considered Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) in the primary. “Have the great people of Missouri been considering the big, loud, and proud personality of Congressman Billy Long for the Senate?” Trump said. “Do they appreciate what they have in him, a warrior and the first major political leader to say, ‘You better get on the Trump Train, it’s leaving the station.’ That was before I even announced I was running for President. This is not an Endorsement, but I’m just askin’?” Long has struggled in polling remaining down well behind Greitens, Schmitt, and Hartzler in the divided field.

Greitens having made opposition to reelecting McConnell a centerpiece of his campaign—Hartzler and Schmitt have struggled with non-answers to the McConnell support question—has made GOP establishment types like McConnell himself and Rove particularly desperate to try to stop Greitens from winning the GOP nomination.

Rove’s connections to this whole storyline directly connect McConnell to it as well given their deep and years-long relationship. Rove’s protege Scott Jennings in 2013 launched a pro-McConnell Super PAC called “Kentuckians For Strong Leadership” to back McConnell in the 2014 U.S. Senate race. In 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a McConnell-allied nonprofit called One Nation received millions of dollars in donations from a Rove-linked group called Crossroads GPS.


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