Government & Politics

Greitens’ team can’t depose former Democratic chair; investigator takes Fifth

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens defended himself on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, shortly before a House investigative committee released a report about his conduct during a 2015 affair.
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens defended himself on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, shortly before a House investigative committee released a report about his conduct during a 2015 affair. kmyers@kcstar.com

Gov. Eric Greitens’ legal team cannot depose the former chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party ahead of the governor's felony trial, a St. Louis judge ruled Thursday.

Roy Temple, the former state Democratic chairman and longtime strategist, has been an outspoken critic of Greitens, who will go to trial in May on a charge of felony invasion of privacy. The case is based on an allegation that Greitens tried to keep a woman from speaking about an extramarital affair by photographing her without her consent while she was partly nude and bound.

Greitens’ attorneys sought to depose Temple in the case, but Judge Rex Burlison rejected the request. Temple’s attorney, Joe Bednar, said Temple was not in the basement when the affair happened and has no knowledge of payments to Al Watkins, the attorney for the woman's ex-husband.

“From the very beginning of this matter, the governor has attempted to somehow make this my fault,” Temple said when reached by phone.

“I think the governor as a PR strategy wants to spend a lot of time talking about how he got caught and does not want to talk about what he did or didn’t do in the basement of his family home.”

The governor has repeatedly asserted that he is a victim of a smear campaign after the ex-husband of his alleged victim shared an audio of her talking about the allegations with the media.

Watkins, who released a recording of the woman talking about Greitens, revealed this week that he had received $100,000 in anonymous cash payments before the allegations against the governor became public.

Temple has previously said he has no knowledge of payments to cover the ex-husband's legal bills.

Temple filed a complaint in March against Greitens with the Missouri Ethics Commission, alleging that the Republican governor lied about how his campaign obtained a donor list from his charity, The Mission Continues. The complaint is pending.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who is overseeing the invasion-of-privacy case against Greitens, filed unrelated felony computer-tampering charges related to the list against Greitens this month after an investigation by Attorney General Josh Hawley.

“I think their attempt to depose me was an attempt to harass me and silence me as a critic,” Temple said.

The judge also ruled Thursday that a deposition must continue for investigator William Don Tisaby, who was hired by Gardner's office. Greitens’ attorneys have accused Tisaby of committing perjury in a previous deposition.

Tisaby hired Jermaine Wooten as his attorney in a 7 a.m. phone call Thursday. Wooten asked the judge for more time because he had not had time to familiarize himself with the case.

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Burlison denied Wooten’s request, and the deposition was expected to continue Thursday morning.

“I can’t allow the case to be directed by someone at the last minute hiring an attorney,” Burlison said.

Tisaby invoked his Fifth Amendment rights during deposition, declining to answer at least 50 questions from the defense. Wooten said Tisaby intends to invoke Fifth Amendment rights across the board.

Scott Rosenblum, a member of Greitens' team, said Tisaby's "involvement has affected everything in this case."

Burlison allowed for an additional 15 minutes of deposition for the defense to establish a record that Tisaby also will invoke the Fifth Amendment on the second felony case.

The governor’s jury trial on the invasion-of-privacy indictment is scheduled to begin May 14, with a deadline for discovery of May 1.

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