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Military ambush?: Ex-SEAL rips Greitens in radio show, doesn't mention opposing campaign role

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Former Navy SEAL (and former John Brunner campaign chief of staff) Paul Holzer, on McGraw Milhaven's radio show on KTRS, July 7, 2016.

ST. LOUIS • Ex-Navy SEAL Paul Holzer was savage in his assessment of fellow ex-SEAL Eric Greitens, now running for Missouri governor: He has used his service in the elite military unit as a gaudy campaign gimmick, Holzer claimed, a violation of the SEAL code of honor.

What Holzer didn’t say — not once in the 26 minutes he berated Greitens in a St. Louis radio interview Thursday with McGraw Milhaven on KTRS (AM 550) — is that Holzer was chief of staff last year for John Brunner, one of Greitens’ opponents in Missouri’s Republican gubernatorial primary.

The radio interview, which left the generally unflappable Milhaven red-faced because of the undisclosed conflict of interest of his guest, had all the hallmarks of a political black-ops mission, Greitens’ campaign later alleged.

Milhaven interviewed Holzer and another ex-SEAL, Drago Dzieran, about their involvement in an anonymous internet video earlier this year criticizing Greitens for allegedly exaggerating and publicizing his SEAL activities. They said the video was meant to rally fellow SEALs against politicizing their culture.

In the interview, Holzer presented himself as uninterested in the campaign itself, only in protecting the SEALs. No one mentioned Holzer’s former role as Brunner’s chief of staff from the startup of his campaign last spring through last fall.

Milhaven at one point pressed Holzer on whether he had any political motives. “When I see the ISIS bumper sticker, and the ads and things,” answered Holzer, referring to Greitens’ military-themed campaign materials, “and it’s just attributed to the SEAL brand, I’ve got to say something.”

In an interview later with the Post-Dispatch, Holzer said he didn’t believe he was obligated to disclose his former Brunner connection during the interview.

“I don’t think it’s relevant because I’m not discussing politics,” said Holzer.

Milhaven said Thursday that he wasn’t aware during the interview of Holzer’s former role in Brunner’s campaign. As to whether he’d been misled, Milhaven said: “I don’t know. I think it’s a legitimate question to ask.”

Brunner’s campaign denied any current ties to Holzer. “The veterans traveling Missouri raising serious questions about Eric Greitens have no connection to our campaign,” spokesman Mike Hafner said in a written statement.

Greitens spokesman Austin Chamber disputed that, calling Holzer “a Brunner operative” and alleging that Thursday’s interview proves Greitens’ long-standing allegation that Brunner was behind the original attack video. Greitens’ campaign earlier this year released his military records to rebut that video’s claims that he exaggerated his SEAL service.

Also seeking the GOP nomination are former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder. The primary is Aug. 2.

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