Key players in the investigations of Missouri’s governor
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A look at some of the key players in the investigations of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens stemming from his 2015 extramarital affair with his St. Louis hairdresser:
Greitens, a Republican who turned 44 on Tuesday, is a Rhodes Scholar and former Navy SEAL officer who served tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. He founded The Mission Continues, a nonprofit that helps returning veterans.
His political leanings have changed over the years. He attended the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and Democrats tried unsuccessfully to recruit him to run for Congress in 2010. Instead, he became a Republican and won a bruising four-person gubernatorial primary in 2016, largely on a platform of moving Missouri away from what he called “corrupt career politicians,” special interests and lobbyists. He defeated Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster as part of a GOP landslide in Missouri in November 2016.
Greitens was popular among conservatives nationwide and began generating buzz as a potential future presidential candidate.
He admitted to the affair in January, just after delivering his State of the State speech. Greitens was indicted by a St. Louis grand jury in February on felony invasion of privacy for allegedly taking a nonconsensual photo of the woman while she was partially nude.
The woman involved in the affair is a divorced mother. She and her ex-husband split up after he learned about the affair.
Greitens met her in 2013 at the St. Louis salon where she worked. He was among her clients. Their affair began in March 2015.
During a 2015 conversation secretly recorded by her then-husband and in testimony to the special legislative committee investigating the governor released Wednesday, the woman said Greitens invited her into the basement of his home because he wanted to show her “how to do a proper pull-up.” She admitted to the committee that she had a crush on Greitens at the time.
She said he taped her hands to rings on an exercise devise and blindfolded her. She said that even with the blindfold she realized he took a photo of her.
According to the woman’s testimony to the committee, Greitens told her, “You’re not going to mention my name. Don’t even mention my name to anybody at all, because if you do, I’m going to take these pictures, and I’m going to put them everywhere I can. They are going to be everywhere, and then everyone will know what a little whore you are.”
She also testified Greitens slapped, shoved and grabbed her several times during the affair that lasted several months.
Greitens has blamed Democratic St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner for a politically motivated investigation that resulted in the grand jury indictment, calling her a “reckless liberal prosecutor.”
Gardner, 42, grew up in St. Louis and earned a law degree from St. Louis University. She worked as a prosecutor under her predecessor, Jennifer Joyce, from 2005 to 2010. She served in the Missouri House from 2013 to 2017.
When Joyce opted not to seek a fifth term in 2016, Gardner ran, pledging to restore trust in the criminal justice system in a region still stung by the events in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014.
Gardner defeated three other Democrats in the August primary, aided by $200,000 in late donations from a national super PAC partly funded by liberal billionaire George Soros. She was unopposed in the general election, becoming St. Louis’ first African-American circuit attorney. She oversees an office with about 60 attorneys.
THE HOUSE INVESTIGATOR
Republican state Rep. Jay Barnes, 38, was appointed to head the special legislative committee investigating the governor. The investigation was launched days after the criminal indictment in St. Louis. The committee’s report was released Wednesday and signed by all five Republicans and two Democrats on the panel.
The report describes the woman’s testimony as credible and notes that Greitens has so far declined to testify or provide documents to the committee.
Barnes, of Jefferson City, was elected to his first two-year term in 2010. He operates his own law firm, Barnes and Associates. He previously worked as general counsel to former Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, and served as policy counsel and speechwriter for former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, a Republican.
Greitens has put together an all-star roster of legal talent. His six attorneys include Edward L. Dowd Jr., who was appointed U.S. attorney for eastern Missouri by President Bill Clinton in 1993. Dowd also served as deputy special counsel in the investigation of the 1993 FBI raid of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.
Today, Dowd is a partner in the Dowd Bennett law firm. Three others from the firm are part of the Greitens team.
Jim Bennett has represented Anheuser-Busch, Monsanto and other major St. Louis corporations. Jim Martin previously served as acting U.S. attorney and also assisted in the Branch Davidian investigation. Michelle Nasser worked as a federal prosecutor in Chicago for 13 years.
The defense team also includes Jack Garvey, who served as a judge for nearly two decades before retiring from the bench in 2015; and Scott Rosenblum, widely considered one of Missouri’s most prolific defense attorneys. His online biography says he has tried more than 400 cases.