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, Confide app lawsuit and other issues, click here.
A war of words — or, at least, a lawyers' skirmish — erupted Monday in the ongoing work of the House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight.
For the first time in more than two months, the committee scheduled an open-to-the-public meeting for noon Monday — then cancelled it at the beginning of the session.
Chairman Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, said the committee was considering its options after former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway didn't provide the committee with as much information as she had promised.
On May 2, the committee issued a 22-page report on its research into allegations that Gov. Eric Greitens tampered with a computer by taking donor and email lists from The Mission Continues — the veterans service charity he helped found in 2007 — without the charity's permission, and used the information to raise approximately $2 million during the early stages of his eventually successful race for the governorship.
Hanaway, who also is a former U.S. Attorney for Eastern Missouri, also ran for governor and lost to Greitens in the August 2016 primary, but currently represents the governor's campaign organization.
Greitens claims victory as charge droppedRead more
"Upon the release of our (May 2) report, Catherine Hanaway promised that her clients could cooperate with subpoenas for production of documents and testimony to this committee," Barnes said during the brief meeting. "This committee took her up on that promise.
"Speaker (Todd) Richardson and the committee issued subpoenas for 'Greitens for Missouri,' 'A New Missouri' and Austin Chambers," Greitens' former campaign director and adviser who now runs "A New Missouri," the nonprofit organization that uses money from donors who don't have to be identified.
However, Barnes added: "After having promised to be fully open and fully transparent, Hanaway responded by providing some documents that were responsive to our subpoena (and) objected to other, large categories of documents."
After the meeting, Hanaway said in a statement: "It's disappointing that Chairman Barnes has decided to play politics during this secret investigation.
"His comments are intentionally misleading. Since the time my clients received requests for documents, we have cooperated with the committee counsel and put in a good faith effort to give them the information requested.
"In fact, we have provided more than 14,000 documents related to the committee's request."
She said her staff continues "to go through the burdensome process of gathering and organizing thousands of additional documents for review by the committee — and of course, my clients will assert the same rights any party would have to object to requests that aren't relevant to the committee's investigation."
Barnes said the seven-member committee and its staff were "in the process of reviewing the documents that were provided to this committee — of which there was a substantial number — and we are considering our options on which path to take to enforce the Legislature and this committee's subpoena power."
When his committee determines what it will do next, Barnes said, "We will provide an update."
As of Monday afternoon, the committee had two more open meetings scheduled at 8 a.m. today and Wednesday.
Barnes said the decision to cancel Monday's meeting didn't affect the other meetings, and decisions about future meetings will be made on a day-to-day basis.
Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, created the committee in late February, just days after a St. Louis grand jury indicted Gov. Eric Greitens on a felony invasion-of-privacy charge, for an incident in the basement of the Greitens' family home in March 2015 — before the governor officially launched his statewide campaign for the office.
That charge was dropped Monday afternoon, just a day before Greitens' trial on the charge was to begin.
However, the committee was instructed to find facts about the governor's legal situation, and he still faces a second criminal charge, also filed in St. Louis, on The Mission Continues' email and donor lists.
That trial was not yet scheduled.
There have been numerous calls for Greitens to resign or face impeachment, and Richardson also charged the special committee with determining whether the House should impeach the governor.
The Missouri Constitution says: "All elective executive officials of the state" — which includes the governor — "and judges of the supreme court, courts of appeals and circuit courts shall be liable to impeachment for crimes, misconduct, habitual drunkenness, willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency, or any offense involving moral turpitude or oppression in office."
If the committee recommends impeachment, their recommendation would include what charges to lodge against the governor.
If the House approves articles of impeachment, the Constitution requires the Missouri Senate to elect seven judges who currently are serving on the state's circuit and appeals courts, to serve on a special commission that would hold the trial on the impeachment charges.
And at least five of those seven judges would have to agree to convict Greitens before he could be removed from office.
The House and Senate have called themselves back for a no-more-than 30-day special session, to begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday, to consider the possibility of impeachment.
Late Monday night, Richardson, House Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr and House Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo issued a statement regarding the dismissal of the felony charge.
"The legislature is a separate and a co-equal branch of government with a separate responsibility entrusted to it by our Constitution. We owe it to Missourians to have a fair and thorough investigation of the facts.
"To date the committee's work has not only provided two reports on the facts to the General Assembly but, more importantly, it has also exposed additional concerns relating to the governor's conduct. This is why we remain committed to that process and await any recommendations it has for the House.
"Without the pending trial this week, it allows the Governor to take advantage of our open offer to share his side of the facts."
And Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, and Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, added in a separate statement: "The members of the House committee have discovered a disturbing pattern of allegations, most of which are completely separate from the case dismissed today. We now hope the governor and his staff are more forthcoming with the facts, and they decide to appear before the special investigative committee.
"The governor has lost the moral authority and the ability to lead the state going forward, and we reaffirm our call that he resign immediately."