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Special House committee keeps working

Special House committee keeps working

April 24th, 2018 by Bob Watson in Local News

Rep. Jay Barnes, chairman of the Special Investigative Committee on Oversight, addresses members of the committee and press Tuesday, March 6, 2018.

Photo by Tim Bommel/Mo. House of Reps.

The Missouri House special committee looking into Gov. Eric Greitens' legal situation may be releasing a second report this week.

Previous coverage of Greitens investigations

The News Tribune has been following the investigations into Gov. Eric Greitens for months as they have developed. For a full look at coverage of the House committee's investigation, St. Louis case and other related issues, click here.

Committee Co-Chairman Don Phillips, R-Kimberling City, told constituents in a weekend newsletter: "We expect to release a supplement to the original report this coming week."

And, when asked after the committee's 30-minute closed session Monday afternoon if there would be a report issued this week, Chairman Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, asked reporters if they had a "Magic 8-Ball" and then quoted one of that toy's answers: "Chances are decent."

Two weeks ago, the committee issued a 24-page report detailing an affair Greitens had in 2015 with his hairdresser — including allegations the then-future governor tied the woman to exercise bars in the basement of his St. Louis home, ripped off some of the clothes he had given her to wear, took her picture without her permission and convinced her to have oral sex with him.

The governor has admitted to the affair but denied the other allegations, calling them "falsehoods and lies."

A St. Louis grand jury indicted Greitens with invasion of privacy for that incident — a Class D felony that, if he's convicted, could result in a prison sentence of up to four years.

Last week, the St. Louis circuit attorney — the city's equivalent of the prosecuting attorney throughout the rest of the state — filed a second felony charge of tampering with a computer, for taking donor and email lists from The Mission Continues charity Greitens founded in 2007, then using that information to raise funds for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign.

Greitens on Friday accused Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner of continuing to play politics with the separate charges.

"She is wasting thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars to do all of this," he said in a Facebook post. "Her original case is falling apart — so today (Friday), she's brought a new one. By now, everyone knows what this is: this prosecutor will use any charge she can to smear me.

"Thank goodness for the Constitution and our court system. In the United States of America, you're innocent until proven guilty. In the United States of America, you get your day in court.

"And when I have my day in court, I will clear my name. People will know the truth."

However, the new charge, based at least in part on information provided by Attorney General Josh Hawley's office following its investigation of the governor's possible use of The Mission Continues lists, brought renewed calls for Greitens to resign — which he has said he will not do — or to be impeached by the House.

House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, two weeks ago charged the committee — officially the Special Investigative Committee on Oversight — with making a recommendation on whether the House should impeach the governor.

And some lawmakers have said that work should be done while the Legislature is still in session, rather than waiting for lawmakers to call themselves back into a special session after the current General Assembly ends May 18.

Barnes and other committee members won't comment on their work in that area — nor would they say what their next report might contain.

After Monday's meeting, Barnes said: "Just hold on."

The committee is scheduled to meet again at noon today and 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem has scheduled a hearing for 10 a.m. Thursday on Greitens' lawsuit, filed a week ago, asking the courts to prohibit Hawley and his office from being involved in any future investigations of the governor — after Hawley added his call for the governor to resign after the release of the first House committee report.