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Barnes files resolution launching House probe of Greitens

February 27, 2018 at 11:35 p.m. | Updated April 11, 2018 at 7:22 p.m.
FILE- In this May 23, 2017, file photo, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks outside the state Capitol in Jefferson City, Mo. Greitens is the latest of several U.S. governors who have been indicted on a wide variety of charges in the last century. He is the sixth governor indicted since 2000. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

State Rep. Jay Barnes on Tuesday filed a House Resolution authorizing the "Special Investigative Committee on Oversight" to investigate allegations against Gov. Eric Greitens and report back to the House of Representatives.

House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, named Barnes, R-Jefferson City, who is an attorney, to chair the committee, with state Rep. Don Phillips, R-Kimberling City, serving as vice chairman.

The committee was created to investigate allegations against Greitens, including the information contained in an indictment issued last week by a St. Louis grand jury.

That indictment charged the governor with felony invasion of privacy during an incident in March 2015 - when he was having an affair with a woman, was still a private citizen and before he had announced his campaign for the governor's office.

Depending on what the committee learns, it could recommend the House vote articles of impeachment against the governor.

If the House approved those articles - which requires at least 82 votes, a simple majority - the state Constitution requires the state Senate to elect a "a special commission of seven eminent jurists" to try the case.

Barnes' resolution directs the committee to report back to the House within 40 days of the committee being appointed - which would be in early April - but allows the committee to extend the time limit for a "specified numbers of days."

At a Monday news conference announcing the creation of the Special Investigative Committee on Oversight, Barnes told reporters, "We will produce a report, and we will make determinations based on where the facts lead us."

The resolution authorizes the chairman to schedule the committee's meetings "at such times and places as the chair deems necessary to conduct its duties."

The resolution includes a number of rules for the committee to follow, including:

Making hearings open to the public and press, except when the chair decides to close them "to hear the testimony of certain witnesses or review evidence."

Keeping witnesses and their attorneys out of the hearing room until they are called to testify. The same procedure generally is used in court trials.

Preparing a transcript of the hearings, with the possibility that some information - like the identity of some witnesses, testimony or evidence - is redacted.

The resolution allows the committee's chairman to decide whether the hearings can be recorded with video or audio equipment.

Allowing only the committee members - and any special counsel it appoints - to question witnesses.

Accepting testimony only from witnesses called by the committee, or allowed by the chairman after giving at least 24 hours' notice, in a written statement, "of the substance of the proposed testimony." This procedure will be different from the one followed by most legislative committees.

Requiring witnesses to take an oath: "Do you solemnly swear (of affirm) that the testimony you shall give in the hearing now pending before this committee shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?"

Waiving the legal system's formal rules of evidence, but allowing the committee to "compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of any paper or document," as well as enforcing obedience of its orders, preserving order and punishing "in a summary way contempt of and disobedience to its authority."

Issuing subpoenas through the House speaker's office, as allowed by state law, that have the same power as if they had been issued by a court.

Other committee members include state Reps. Jeanie Lauer, R-Blue Springs; Kevin Austin, R-Springfield; Shaun Rhoads, R-West Plains; Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis, who is the assistant House minority leader; and Tommie Pierson Jr., D-St. Louis.

Joe Gamm of the News Tribune provided information used in this article.


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