Five things to know about the Greitens scandal
The St. Louis circuit attorney’s office released a list of evidence Tuesday in its indictment of Gov. Eric Greitens for felony invasion of privacy, including a photo of the alleged victim.
But Greitens' attorneys say the photo is “a publicly-posted professional headshot” and is not the alleged photo that is at the heart of the allegations against the governor.
Greitens is accused of threatening to release a nude photograph of a woman with whom he had an affair in 2015, taken while she was blindfolded and her hands were bound, unless she remained silent.
The governor has admitted to the affair but has vehemently denied the blackmail allegations. Thus far he has refused to say explicitly whether a photo was ever taken.
In a letter to Greitens’ attorneys Tuesday, the circuit attorney listed 13 pieces of evidence. Included on that list was “picture of K.S.”
The woman’s identity has not been revealed publicly, but she is referred to as “K.S.” in the indictment.
A spokeswoman for the circuit attorney could not comment on the contents of the photo. But Ed Dowd, a member of Greitens legal team, said in a statement that the photo referenced in the circuit attorney’s letter is not a nude photo, but rather a professional headshot.
“Given the public circumstances,” Dowd said, “this was exceptionally misleading.”
Susan Ryan, a spokeswoman for Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, said that "the defense asked us to turn over photos and other materials, so we turned over this photo at the request of the defense. "
Other pieces of evidence referenced in the letter include tape recordings of the woman confessing the affair to her husband and emails exchanged between Greitens and the woman.
At a hearing on Tuesday, Greitens' attorneys questioned why Gardner's office hired a private company to perform the investigation that led to his indictment, rather than relying on St. Louis police.
Gardner paid Enterra LLC, a Michigan-based investigative company, a $10,000 retainer to conduct the investigation into Greitens, according to an open records request.
Greitens' attorneys filed a motion Tuesday seeking to preserve all investigative materials produced by Enterra. That filing stated that "unlike any other case there are no police reports to produce in discovery" and contended that the $250 per hour cost of the firm was eight times the pay of a St. Louis police officer.
Greitens’ team also questioned whether the out-of-state firm is authorized to operate in Missouri.
“Defense counsel has been unable to, as of this date, identify any steps Enterra has taken to obtain proper licensure to act as a private investigator in Missouri,” the filing from the governor’s team stated.
Greitens’ team has repeatedly criticized the decision to hire outside investigators, but Gardner’s spokeswoman said it was the only option after initial requests were made to local police and the FBI.
“It was important for Kim to conduct an independent investigation, and hiring outside investigators with FBI cyber crime and financial experience was important to her,” Ryan said.
“In addition, we had asked if the St Louis Metropolitan police department (would investigate) and they said it was not in their purview because it was public corruption and they don't cover that so we should go to the FBI,” Ryan said. “We asked the FBI and the U.S. attorney and they said it was not in their jurisdiction. … It is not unusual at the circuit attorney's office to hire outside experts to assist in investigations.”
The firm is charging the circuit attorney's office $250 per hour for each person working on the case, which will initially be billed against the retainer.
Documents provided by the circuit attorney's office show that it was billed for 23.5 hours in January. Her office is covering travel expenses for the investigators.
“It's probably not too different from what it would cost the Police Department to do it. And this would not cost taxpayers any additional funds. We would not be going over our budget to do this investigation,” Ryan said.
Also Tuesday, a resolution kick-starting the Missouri House investigation into the allegations against Greitens was filed, a move that is the first step towards possible impeachment.
Members of the committee investigating Greitens were announced Monday afternoon.
The resolution officially creates the “Special Investigative Committee on Oversight.” The committee will conduct its investigation and report back to the House within 40 days.
The committee could hire a private investigator and will be allowed to close testimony to the public to protect witnesses.