In a sign that its inquiry into allegations of misconduct against Gov. Eric Greitens has escalated, the Missouri House hired a former state Supreme Court chief justice to assist in its investigation of the governor.
Edward "Chip" Robertson will serve as special counsel for the Special Investigative Committee on Oversight, which was created by House leaders in late February after a St. Louis grand jury indicted Greitens on one felony count of invasion of privacy. The charge stems from allegations that during an extramarital affair in 2015, he took a nude photo of a woman — while her hands were bound and she was blindfolded — and threatened to release it if she ever publicly discussed their relationship.
The committee’s investigation is the first step toward possible impeachment.
Robertson was appointed to the state Supreme Court in 1985 by then-Gov. John Ashcroft, a Republican, and was chief justice from 1991 to 1993. He served on the court in 1994, when Secretary of State Judith Moriarty, a Democrat, was impeached by the Missouri House and removed from office by the state Supreme Court.
He retired from the court in 1998.
Joining Robertson as special counsel for the House committee is attorney Mark Kempton of Sedalia, a former Pettis County prosecutor. The two attorneys are not being paid anything other than any out-of-pocket expenses they incur.
“Judge Robertson provides experience and knowledge to our committee as we continue to fairly and thoroughly investigate the facts," said state Rep. Jay Barnes, a Jefferson City Republican chairing the investigatory committee. "We welcome the expertise of Judge Robertson and Mark Kempton as the committee continues its work.”
The House committee was tasked with looking into allegations in the February grand jury indictment. It released a graphic 25-page report earlier this month in which Greitens was accused under oath by the woman of sexual coercion, physical violence and blackmail.
Greitens has admitted the affair but denied any criminal wrongdoing. He is set to go to trial on May 14.
Since the release of the report, the committee's investigation has broadened beyond the allegations surrounding his 2015 affair to include questions about how Greitens obtained and used a donor list belonging to a veterans charity to benefit his 2016 campaign.
St. Louis prosecutors charged Greitens last week with one felony charge of computer tampering for allegedly taking the charity’s donor list without permission.
Computer tampering, which is essentially electronic theft, is a class D felony. If convicted, the governor could face up to four years in prison.
Robertson is in private practice in Jefferson City. In 2011, Robertson defended Gov. Jay Nixon against a lawsuit alleging he overstepped his authority when he withheld money from various programs to pay for disaster aid.
Greitens made a rare appearance in the Missouri Capitol on Wednesday evening, lobbying lawmakers in their statehouse offices.
Approached by reporters, the governor refused to answer, or even acknowledge, questions.