Missouri Gov. Greitens’ lawyers: House inquiry could taint jury

Missouri Republican Governor-elect Eric Greitens delivers a victory speech Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in Chesterfield, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Curry)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Attorneys for Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ say state lawmakers’ investigation into the Republican governor could taint a jury pool in his upcoming trial over allegations that he took a nonconsensual photo of a partially nude woman with whom he had an extramarital affair.

Attorneys for Greitens sent a letter to the House investigatory committee asking it to wait to release a report on the investigation until after the May criminal trial. The report is expected to be released Monday.

Asked whether the committee would delay the release, its chairman, Republican Rep. Jay Barnes, on Wednesday simply said, “No.”

The letter, which an attorney for Greitens provided to The Associated Press on Wednesday, was dated March 26. His attorneys said it was “unreasonable” to ask Greitens to testify to the committee before his trial.

Both the House investigation and trial center on an extramarital affair that Greitens recently admitted to having in 2015, before he took office. A St. Louis grand jury indicted Greitens in February on a felony invasion-of-privacy charge over the photo allegations. Greitens has denied any criminal wrongdoing.

In the letter to the House committee, Greitens’ attorneys wrote that releasing the House investigatory report before the trial “will cause pretrial publicity that interferes with the fairness and due process of the Circuit Court trial and unduly influences the jury pool.”

The attorneys — who include Greitens’ personal lawyer Edward Dowd; office general counsel Lucinda Luetkemeyer; and Washington, D.C. attorney Ross Garber, who has represented three governors elsewhere who faced impeachment proceedings — also wrote that Greitens will not testify before the committee while he faces criminal charges. The letter lists Garber as also representing the governor’s office.

The lawyers wrote that while Greitens is willing to speak to lawmakers on the panel, testifying to the committee before the trial would “violate his right to a fair trial.” Greitens did not respond to an AP question Wednesday about whether he would testify.

The attorneys also argued that the committee could review evidence from the trial if it decides to hold off, and said moving forward as planned would “disseminate incomplete, false and misleading information that will cause damage to entirely innocent people, some of whom are families and children.”

The committee has given Greitens “the opportunity to testify, and remains open to receiving further information as it continues its work,” Barnes and GOP Rep. Don Phillips, the vice chairman, said in a joint statement Tuesday.

Garber, who previously represented embattled governors Robert Bentley of Alabama, Mark Sanford of South Carolina and John Rowland of Connecticut, is being paid by the state. He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he is charging half his normal rate and was hired to deal with legal questions as the Legislature investigates the executive branch.

The hiring of an outside attorney would typically involve the Missouri attorney general’s office, but Loree Anne Paradise, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Josh Hawley, told the Post-Dispatch that no request to hire Garber was made or authorized.