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House committee continues work in silence

House committee continues work in silence

Lawyers set to argue Greitens' request for restraining order against Hawley

April 25th, 2018 by Bob Watson in Local News

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.

State Rep. Jay Barnes told reporters Tuesday the Missouri House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight still is working on another report about its investigations into Gov. Eric Greitens' legal situations.

But he did not say when another report would be made public.

"There are reports in the works," Barnes said after the committee's latest closed meeting Tuesday afternoon.

The panel is set to meet again at 8 a.m. today.

In keeping with their practice of remaining quiet about their work, none of the committee's six other members answered reporters' questions after Tuesday's 95-minute meeting.

Two weeks ago, the committee released a 24-page report detailing the governor's 2015 affair with his hairdresser and allegations the then-future governor tied up and blindfolded the woman before ripping 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."

The committee also has been looking into The Mission Continues — the veterans charity Greitens helped found in 2007 and headed until mid-2014 — and allegations that he took donor and email lists from the charity without its permission and used that information to help raise funds for his 2016 governor's race.

Both of those incidents have led to felony criminal charges filed against the governor in St. Louis City.

The attorney general's office also has been investigating The Mission Continues since February, and at least some of the information it gathered was used in St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's decision to file the second charge — tampering with a computer — last Friday.

Again, Greitens has proclaimed his innocence and has said Missourians will know the truth after his May 14 trial on the invasion-of-privacy charge filed against him Feb. 22.

But, after the House committee released its report two weeks ago, Attorney General Josh Hawley added his voice to those of other Missouri politicians urging Greitens to resign.

That led to Greitens' asking the Cole County Circuit Court to restrain Hawley and the attorney general's office from continuing its current investigation or from launching other probes.

Circuit Judge Jon Beetem will hear arguments from both sides' attorneys Thursday morning.

Greitens' lawsuit, filed by St. Louis attorney Michelle Nasser, argued Hawley should be blocked from further investigations into Greitens because, "by calling for Gov. Greitens to resign, (Hawley) has predetermined the guilt of his own investigative target and his investigation now is clearly compromised.

"(Attorney General) Hawley's public statements demonstrate that he can no longer continue his investigation with impartiality. Indeed, the entire attorney general's office must be recused due to the appearance of impropriety cast when its official website contains a call for its investigative target to 'resign immediately' based on 'certainly impeachable' conduct."

Hawley's 17-page response, prepared by D. John Sauer, the attorney general's first assistant and solicitor, countered that Hawley's call for Greitens' impeachment or resignation was based only on the House report.

"The attorney general made no reference to the conduct of Mr. Greitens with respect to The Mission Continues or any other matter relating to the ongoing investigation of The Mission Continues," Sauer wrote.

He also said: "The Court should deny Mr. Greitens' request for a TRO and should dismiss this case with prejudice. Mr. Greitens contends that the attorney general must now recuse from his investigation because he has called for Mr. Greitens to resign over the unrelated allegations of egregious sexual misconduct and violence.

"Mr. Greitens' argument is frivolous, and his verified petition constitutes a vexatious attempt to interfere with the orderly pursuit of justice. The public interest overwhelmingly favors permitting his investigation to continue."