Chairman of House committee that investigated Greitens again calls for ethics commission action | KCUR

Chairman of House committee that investigated Greitens again calls for ethics commission action

Dec 31, 2018
Originally published on January 2, 2019 4:47 am

The Missouri House committee tasked with investigating former Gov. Eric Greitens’ conduct released its final report on Monday — and a renewed a call for action by the state ethics commission.

The Special Investigative Committee on Oversight final report includes previously released reports about Greitens’ conduct. It also includes more than 2,000 pages of transcripts and other documents. State Rep. Jay Barnes, who chaired the committee, said in a statement that “with today’s report, we have completed the tasks assigned to us.”

“When Eric Greitens resigned in May, the committee lost jurisdiction to investigate further. However, the Missouri Ethics Commission has the power to investigate and act,” Barnes, R-Jefferson City, said, referring to a complaint he helped file earlier this year. “I remain hopeful the commission will take appropriate action to enforce Missouri’s campaign finance laws against Eric Greitens and those with whom he conspired to evade reporting requirements and voter-enacted campaign finance limits.”

The ethics commission does not comment on whether any investigation is pending.

Catherine Hanaway, who represents Greitens’ campaign committee and politically-active nonprofit, said the call for ethics commission action was a “rehash of the complaint he made in June.”

“I think the allegations he makes with respect to campaign finance law simply misapply the law to the facts,” Hanaway said.

The committee was established this year after news of Greitens’ marital infidelity became public. He was accused of a multitude of offenses, including invasion of privacy and using his former charity’s fundraising list for political purposes. Both of those criminal cases were dismissed.

Greitens was facing near certain impeachment in the Missouri House when he stepped down in early June. Lt. Gov. Mike Parson then assumed the governorship.

One new piece of information concerns the potential release of documents that the committee obtained.

In a letter near the beginning of the final report, Barnes wrote “the overwhelming majority of documents received by the committee, were, upon review, deemed not relevant to the committee’s investigation or were not used in any findings reached by the committee.” He went on to say that “all documents received by the committee that were not used with a witness or as an exhibit are closed records.”

Later in the report, there’s correspondence from Barnes to a number of attorneys representing various people involved in the Greitens scandal. He told them that the committee had received a number of open records requests related to the investigation. A representative from St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office and Hanaway wrote back, asking Barnes not to release certain documents.

In a letter to Barnes, special assistant circuit attorney Rachel Smith said government records related to Greitens’ criminal case were not subject to open records laws. Gardner spokeswoman Susan Ryan said that "it appears the House honored our agreement."

Hanaway said Monday she had no objection to the documents that were released. She said that the thousands of pages of documents that were produced “continued to belong to our client, even though we provided them to the committee to assist in its investigation.”

“And we reached agreement with counsel for the committee that if a particular witness or in a finding of the committee they wanted to point to a particular document they could use those for those purposes,” Hanaway said. “I think everything that was produced is consistent with that agreement.”

Legislative emails became open records once an amendment, known as Clean Missouri, went into effect. St. Louis Public Radio placed open records requests to both Barnes and another committee member, state Rep. Gina Mitten.

Barnes’ legislative aide Ryan Clearwater said on Dec. 10 that we have “begun the process of evaluation so that we may fashion an appropriate response.”

Mitten, D-Richmond Heights, produced emails and documents responsive to the request on the same day. Included in the emails that Mitten sent to St. Louis Public Radio were correspondence from Hanaway and Greitens' attorney Ed Dowd to committee members. Dowd was requesting specific people testify before the committee, while Hanaway was summarizing how she felt her clients cooperated during the investigation.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

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