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Special House Committee investigating Greitens meets at Capitol

March 29, 2018 at 10:35 p.m. | Updated April 11, 2018 at 6:54 p.m.
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks during an interview in his office at the Missouri Capitol Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Jefferson City, Mo. Greitens discussed having an extramarital affair in 2015 before taking office. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

For the first time since they began holding closed meetings March 7, members of the House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight met at the Capitol on Thursday morning, instead of the Jefferson City Police Station's classroom.

But Chairman Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, told reporters after the two-hour closed meeting that there were "no updates" on the seven-member committee's work studying Gov. Eric Greitens' legal situation.

Barnes said Thursday's meeting was held at the Capitol "for convenience."

The committee scheduled its next meeting for noon Monday - back at the police station.

Under the March 1 resolution authorizing the panel's operations, it faces an April 10 deadline to complete its work and submit a report to House Speaker Todd Richardson.

Barnes wouldn't say Thursday if the committee has begun working on that report. But he told reporters earlier this week that the committee still was "on track."

He has not said if committee members want to go longer than the 40 days they were authorized.

The special rules covering the committee's operations give the panel authority to extend its deadline, if members think that's needed.

Thursday morning's meeting was held in the House Human Resources and Accounting office in the Capitol's basement, between the Chez Monet cafe and the restrooms.

The office remained open for business, and reporters saw a number of people go in and out of the main door.

But the door into the office is covered with a patterned plastic sheet that lets light through the door, but makes it virtually impossible to identify someone on the other side of the door.

The committee met in a conference room at the back of the reception area, and that door was closed to anyone entering the office.

The committee's five previous meetings had been at the police station, where the doors and windows to the Handley Way classroom entrance area were covered with black plastic, so that reporters and others waiting along Handley Way couldn't see who was entering or leaving the hearings.

At the police station, potential witnesses could be driven into the garage and then escorted through the inside of the building to the classroom, and their identities could remain secret.

House staffers said there is a back way into the Human Resources suite of offices that could not be seen from the hallway outside the main door, so any witnesses who were involved in Thursday's hearing also wouldn't be seen by the general public.

Barnes has said from the outset that the committee wouldn't reveal witnesses' identities until it releases its report and - even then - the names of some witnesses may be redacted.

Richardson created the committee after a St. Louis grand jury indicted Greitens on Feb. 22, charging the governor with felony invasion of privacy for taking a picture of a woman in March 2015, without her consent - and when she was at least partially nude - in such a way that the picture could be seen on a computer.

That woman, said to be Greitens' hairdresser with whom he was having an extramarital affair, never has been identified publicly.

Her now ex-husband has said she confessed the affair to him shortly after it happened, but he didn't confirm it publicly until recently.

And it didn't become a news story until St. Louis TV station KMOV reported it Jan. 10, about an hour after Greitens finished delivering his second State of the State address.

The ex-husband also hasn't been named.

His attorney - Albert Watkins of St. Louis - told reporters the ex-husband was meeting with the committee on March 9.

But Barnes and the committee members haven't identified anyone they've called to testify.

So it's not known whether Greitens was subpoenaed or if he appeared before the committee - which includes three attorneys and two former law officers among its seven members.

Greitens faces a May 14 jury trial in St. Louis on the indictment.

Some have said the House committee's work could lead to the House voting to impeach the governor - but, so far, Barnes has said only that his committee is determining what the facts are in the St. Louis case and, possibly, in other allegations involving campaign finances and the use of a smart phone application that destroys messages once they've been read.


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