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After Eric Greitens’ return to the Navy, top brass launch changes in misconduct reviews

Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens delivers the keynote address at the St. Louis Area Police Chiefs Association 27th Annual Police Officer Memorial Prayer Breakfast on April 25, 2018, at the St. Charles Convention Center. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

The U.S. Navy is revising how it grapples with the types of alleged misconduct that helped pave the way for the ouster of Eric Greitens as Missouri’s governor.

In a report released to the Post-Dispatch on Monday, the Navy said the new review process will give naval brass more tools to address future situations “when our shipmates behave contrary to the core values of the Navy.”

“Our continuing drive towards a ‘Culture of Excellence’ requires that we maintain an unrelenting focus on demonstration of our signature behaviors, to engender trust and confidence within our ranks and with the American people,” wrote Vice Admiral John B. Nowell Jr.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the 1,130-word report’s results would have any effect on Greitens’ return to the service as a lieutenant commander earlier this year.

Greitens, 45, left the governor’s office in June 2018, calling an investigation by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner and a probe by a special House investigatory committee a “political witch hunt.”

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Gardner’s probe resulted in a grand jury accusing him of felony invasion of privacy for allegedly taking a nonconsensual cellphone photo of his partly clad lover.

The legislative inquiry, which was a precursor to a possible call for impeachment, found he had illicitly used the donor list of his former veterans charity, the Mission Continues, for political fundraising.

Although Gardner, a Democrat, dropped the charges against the self-described Republican outsider, his departure marked a jarring finish to the former Navy SEAL’s turbulent tenure.

Since hastily moving out of the governor’s mansion, Greitens has stayed largely out the spotlight. Earlier this year, he sought to return to military life.

But, in May, his reentry to the service prompted the chief of naval operations, Adm. John Richardson, to launch a review of how the service handles personnel cases involving personal misconduct allegations.

In other words, should Greitens have been let back into the service after the allegations against him came to light? And, if so, should his position have limits placed on it?

The results, outlined in the report completed Aug. 19, call for a new way to document misconduct or poor character in the record of an officer and a more standardized way to report punishment that is not meted out in a judicial setting.

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The new guidelines will provide “an accountability tool for instances in which misconduct merits official documentation, but punitive action is not feasible or appropriate under the circumstances,” the report notes.

The review also creates a new policy that requires commanders to submit a report after an investigation that finds a sailor did not commit misconduct in order to prevent a delay in a promotion.

The Navy also has revised the process it uses when a sailor leaves the service and is assessing how to handle reenlistments such as Greitens’.

“We will expand screening requirements to ensure an appropriate assessment of substantiated misconduct is included in the process for those seeking to transition from the Reserve to the Active Component or between Reserve Component categories,” the report notes.

Greitens could not be reached for comment Monday.

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© 2019 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch