Southeast Missouri State University student publication

A cry for corruption from someone who should know better

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Gov. Eric Greitens either doesn’t understand privacy laws, or he’s neglecting them to pit the people of Missouri against state legislators.

Whatever the case, we’ve got a problem.

In a statement before the House of Representatives Special Investigative Committee on Oversight released the findings in their ongoing investigation of his sex scandal, Greitens said he was sure the report would be filled with “more false, outlandish and salacious accusations” and the entire proceedings were an “absurd political witch-hunt.”

Greitens then went on to say the committee’s report was made behind closed doors with no media, citizens or personal representation allowed into the room.

In case you haven’t decoded his message yet, he’s going back to his campaign platform — government corruption. Except this time, he’s playing victim.

Other than the fact the committee reached out to Greitens a number of times for his personal testimony, Greitens is correct to say the special investigation operated under a closed meeting.

House Resolution 5565 was introduced by Rep. Jay Barnes (R-Cole Country) on Feb. 27, and passed with a unanimous vote March 1, marking the creation of the special committee. Within the resolution were a set of rules by which the special committee would have to abide by during the investigation. Of those rules, rule No. 2 addressed the guidelines for openness the committee had to abide by.

It read: “Any hearings shall be open to the public and press, except that the chair, in his or her discretion, may close all or a portion of such hearings to hear the testimony of certain witnesses or review evidence. At the conclusion of the investigation the committee shall prepare a transcript of the hearings, except that the chair, in his or her discretion, may order that the identity of certain witnesses, certain testimony, or certain evidence redacted, blurred, or obfuscated in a manner to protect the identity or privacy of any witness. The chair shall determine whether cameras or other audio or visual recording devices and ancillary lighting and electrical equipment shall be allowed at such hearings and to the extent and in the manner determined by the chair.”

Since day one, the woman involved in Greitens’ extramarital affair has remained anonymous. The names of all four witnesses who testified in the committee’s investigation were redacted from the report because of their wish to remain anonymous throughout the process. A wish that is well within their rights to request.

Because of this, the committee had to keep their hearings closed to abide by privacy laws currently set into place by state and federal law.

They didn’t have much of a choice.

If anything within the report is “one-sided tabloid-trash-gossip” as Greitens had claimed, it was to no fault but his own. Greitens not only waived his right to testify in committee, but he failed to respond to the committee’s request for production of documents — even though his attorney, Edward Dowd, said they would fully cooperate and welcome the bipartisan committee review.

Instead, Greitens has laid all his cards, and his speculated innocence, in the hands of the federal court case coming in a month. He said at that point, everyone will know he is innocent and realize how incredulous the entire house investigation is.

The house committee’s responsibility was not to draw conclusions, nor to determine the innocence or guilt of the governor, but to examine the facts. Even though they don’t determine the final say, the House of Representatives Special Investigative Committee is an equal branch of government to the criminal trial, and should be treated as such.

If Greitens isn’t going to take an internal congressional trial seriously, and share his testimony, that’s on him.

Instead, he decided to let the investigation commence without his say, and instead irresponsibly used the closed-session investigation as a peg to any community member that still believes in him that our state government is corrupt and abusing powers.

Not only has he set a horrible relationship with the Missouri Legislature, he has halted the progress of the second congressional session and refuses to step down. Because of his decisions, no other legislator will likely be considered and passed except the budget, which is mandated by state law. The House of Representatives is now focused on the impending trial, and making the decision on whether or not Greitens should continue governing.

Both sides of the aisle have called for immediate resignation, and if not, have discussed opening a special session to begin the impeachment processes.

We have a governor that allegedly abused, sexually assaulted and blackmailed a woman, and used the private investigation about him to pitch government corruption — I think I will side with the rest of the Legislature on this one.