Former House Speaker and U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said late Thursday afternoon that state Rep. Jay Barnes "has made himself a material witness" in the House investigation into Gov. Eric Greitens' legal situation and whether the full House should impeach the governor and seek to remove him from office.
But former Supreme Court Judge Edward D. "Chip" Robertson, who serves as the committee's special counsel, said it was "surprising and disappointing" that Hanaway "issued a statement attacking the Special Investigative Committee on Oversight and Chairman Jay Barnes."
During Thursday's committee meeting, Barnes, R-Jefferson City, said he'd contacted the FBI after the committee's March interview with a former representative of Greitens' campaign organization.
On Wednesday, Barnes acknowledged he had received from Scott Faughn a copy of the recordings secretly made by the ex-husband of a woman who confessed to having an affair with Greitens in March 2015.
Faughn received those copies in January, more than a month before a St. Louis grand jury indicted Greitens for felony invasion of privacy related to the then-future governor's encounter with the woman.
Hanaway — who represents Greitens' campaign as well as the group A New Missouri, which was formed to support the governor and his initiatives — noted Barnes had not disclosed the information before this week's hearings. She said: "Now, in a desperate attempt to divert attention from these omissions, Chairman Barnes revealed that he's been speaking with the FBI about what he believes are the facts of this case well before his 'fact-finding' committee reached its conclusion.
"And yet, Chairman Barnes — entrusted with the sacred responsibility of finding facts, not prosecuting a case — shared information with law enforcement before a full review of the matter."
Robertson noted the committee "is charged with investigating whether Eric Greitens should be subject to discipline for his acts toward" the woman and, "among other things, campaign finance violations. Now, in an obviously desperate attempt to divert attention away from that investigation and the work of the Committee, the former speaker wants to impugn the integrity of the committee and the chairman, who are some of the most respected members of the General Assembly."
Hanaway said the committee's other members are "apparently in search of the truth," but she wondered if Barnes has "key information that can clear up the conflicting timelines and testimony of witnesses Faughn and Watkins," or if he has "withheld other information from the record, his fellow committee members, and the public."
Robertson said: "Rather than thanking Chairman Barnes for not using his possession of the (recording) to attack Mr. Greitens, he is now being accused of keeping quiet about (it).
"Rather than expressing appreciation for Chairman Barnes for permitting his fellow Committee Members to make up their own minds in this matter as the evidence unfolded, the Chairman is being accused of withholding evidence that might have unduly influenced them in their own assessment of the sordid situation early in the process."
Hanaway said House Speaker Todd Richardson and other House members "are relying on (Barnes) to get to the truth and the facts before they take the most important vote of their careers. They cannot afford to get this wrong."
Robertson said: "What cannot be denied is that Eric Greitens has yet to make any statement under oath denying any aspect of (the woman's) testimony or any other evidence outlined in the Committees' reports.
"Ms. Hanaway surely knows that her coordinated efforts with Greitens' criminal defense counsel raise the specter that she, not the Committee, is at the heart of a conspiracy to hide the truth."