House Greitens report will be released next week

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

The special House committee investigating Gov. Eric Greitens' legal situation "will issue a report next week," Chairman Jay Barnes said in a written statement Thursday afternoon.

And House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, added: "When the committee finalizes its report, we will release it to the public."

But which day next week isn't certain, yet.

Barnes, R-Jefferson City, said Thursday there was nothing to add after the Special Investigative Committee on Oversight ended a nearly three-hour meeting.

The committee's meeting scheduled for 8 a.m. today was canceled, but another meeting planned for 2 p.m. Monday remained on the House hearings schedule Thursday evening.

Richardson appointed the committee Feb. 27, after a St. Louis grand jury on Feb. 22 indicted the governor on a felony invasion of privacy charge for an incident in March 2015 in the basement of his St. Louis home that involved a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair.

On March 1, the House approved a six-page resolution authorizing the committee's work by a 154-0 vote.

The resolution told the panel to "conduct its investigation and report back to the House of Representatives within forty days of such committee being appointed," but also gave the seven-member committee the power to "approve extensions of such time limit for specified numbers of days."

The committee has not asked for an extension.

Barnes told reporters last week the 40 days ended this weekend, so Monday is the deadline. Others in the Capitol have said the 40 days didn't begin until the resolution was approved, making Tuesday the deadline.

Richardson didn't have his usual end-of-the-week meeting with reporters, but House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, said she was concerned Richardson had told her the report wouldn't be released Monday.

"We haven't been told why there is a delay," she said, "so I'm not really sure if there is a problem or what the situation is."

The comments followed this week's public release of a three-page, March 26 letter to the committee from three of Greitens' attorneys, asking the report be delayed until after the governor's May 14 trial on the felony charge.

That letter said Greitens could not appear before the committee until after the trial - and the panel's report won't be complete without him.

"Anything published by this Committee will no doubt influence the jury pool and the public about this case," the letter said, "and thus it is vital that the Committee's work reflect the full facts.

"That is why we respectfully request that the members of the Committee grant yourselves a brief extension of a few weeks so that you may complete a thorough and comprehensive investigation."

St. Louis Public Radio reported Thursday the committee received a second letter from now-retired St. Louis Circuit Judge Thomas Frawley, who also told the panel's members: "In my opinion, release of the Committee's report at this time or at any time prior to (the) conclusion of Governor Greitens' criminal trial will seriously jeopardize the right of Governor Greitens, as well as the State, to a fair and impartial jury."

But, McCann Beatty told reporters Thursday: "The reality is, the governor spent $50,000 on commercials. He's already out there tainting the jury."

There have been broadcast advertisements complaining liberals are working to stop Greitens' conservative agenda.

"So I don't see that our report coming out at this point does anything more than what he's already doing," McCann Beatty said.

The House committee includes five Republicans and two Democrats.

There are three lawyers - Barnes, Kevin Austin, R-Springfield, and Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis - and two former law officers among the seven members.

The committee's charge included investigating the circumstances surrounding the accusation Greitens took a photo of his mistress without her consent, but while she was at least partly nude, and made that picture available to a computer.

The governor has admitted to having the affair - which isn't a crime and occurred before he had launched his campaign to become governor - but has denied doing anything criminal.

He has not commented publicly on whether he took a picture.

But the House resolution did not limit the committee to investigating only the criminal allegations, and there are indications - although Barnes has confirmed none of them - the committee also may be investigating other issues, including his campaign's use of donor lists and emails from The Mission Continues, a charity helping veterans that Greitens, a former Navy Seal, founded in 2007.

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