Government & Politics

Investigators questioning lawmakers about Greitens as part of criminal inquiry

Investigators working for the St. Louis circuit attorney have been talking to lawmakers about Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.
Investigators working for the St. Louis circuit attorney have been talking to lawmakers about Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens. AP

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner has dispatched investigators to the Missouri Capitol to ask lawmakers about Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ use of dark money and other topics as part of her probe into the Republican.

The investigators have reached out to multiple lawmakers, including Rep. Nate Walker, a Kirksville Republican and an early Greitens supporter. The interviews with lawmakers are a possible sign that the criminal inquiry into the governor may have broadened beyond allegations of sexual blackmail that first surfaced last month.

“They’re asking about a lot of things, ... dark money and different things like that,” Walker said in a phone call Wednesday evening.

During a little more than a year in office, Greitens has faced scrutiny for his reliance on dark money — contributions routed through nonprofits to hide the original source of the money.

Gardner, a former Democratic state lawmaker, began investigating the governor after the allegations about the 2015 affair were made public. Greitens has admitted to the affair but has denied the blackmail allegations.

Gardner’s office did not immediately say whether the decision to interview lawmakers meant that the investigation of the governor had expanded beyond the blackmail allegations.

Walker called the investigators very thorough and said that based on the questions he was asked it appears to be a “pretty broad investigation.”

Walker was one of the lawmakers who called on the governor to resign after allegations that he took a nude photograph of a woman without her consent in an effort to keep her from speaking about an extramarital affair.

“I pray for him,” Walker said of the governor. He repeatedly called on the governor to step down “for the betterment of the state,” saying that the scandal had become a “big distraction” in Jefferson City.

Walker identified the investigators as Jack Foley and William Tisaby. Both men appear to be private investigators with FBI experience based on their LinkedIn pages.

Foley did not answer questions when contacted by phone, saying he was in the middle of an interview. An hour later he referred all questions to Gardner’s office.

Gardner’s spokeswoman, Susan Ryan, confirmed in an email late Wednesday afternoon that the men are working on behalf of her office.

Gov. Eric Greitens has admitted he had an extramarital affair in 2015.

I can confirm that Jack Foley and William Tisaby are among the investigators working on the Greitens matter with the Circuit Attorney,” Ryan said. “I can’t speak beyond that as this is an open investigation.”

The scandal has already been a major hit to the governor’s political clout and has potentially torpedoed the prospect of an eventual run for president by a politician who had been seen as a rising star in the Republican Party until recently.

Another lawmaker, Democratic Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City, mentioned the investigators during a Senate debate Wednesday.

“There are two in the building. They came to my office. I was in a meeting, though, so I haven’t had a chance to talk to them,” she said.

Three other lawmakers also said they had been contacted but were not willing to give their names for the record.

The allegations surfaced shortly after the governor delivered his annual State of the State address. Audio from The Associated Press.

While talking to reporters last week, Greitens said he had not been contacted by law enforcement officials.

“We have answered all of those questions and you know that the answer is no. You know the answer is no because you have seen that question answered multiple times,” he said.

Jim Bennett, Greitens’ attorney, said Wednesday that the governor’s team is “aware the circuit attorney has announced an investigation and believe any fair investigation will result in a conclusion that Gov. Greitens has committed no wrongdoing.”

Jason Hancock: 573-634-3565, @J_Hancock

Bryan Lowry: 816-234-4077, @BryanLowry3