Key figures in the Greitens saga
Gov. Eric Greitens is finally getting his day in court.
And by Friday evening, Missouri lawmakers could be starting the process of removing him from office.
Greitens goes to trial in St. Louis this week on a felony count of invasion of privacy stemming from allegations that he took a nude photo of a woman without her consent.
Also hanging over the governor’s head:
▪ He’s charged with a second felony in St. Louis related to accusations that he stole and misused a list of donors belonging to The Mission Continues, a veterans charity he founded in 2007.
▪ Attorney General Josh Hawley alleges that Greitens knowingly filed false campaign finance disclosure reports to the Missouri Ethics Commission, a Class A misdemeanor.
▪ Hawley’s office is also investigating whether Greitens’ refusal to turn over documents related to his social media use violated Missouri’s open records law.
▪ A lawsuit in Cole County accuses the governor and his staff of using a self-destructing text message app to circumvent the state’s open records law.
▪ Washington University and the John Templeton Foundation are both investigating whether Greitens violated an agreement by allegedly using an academic grant to pay his political staff as he was planning his campaign for governor.
▪ Missouri lawmakers continue their inquiry into the many accusations of wrongdoing facing the governor, a process that could result in impeachment.
With so many scandals and accusations swirling around Greitens, and with the St. Louis trial set to begin, here’s a rundown of key figures in the ongoing saga that’s overtaken Missouri politics.
Eric Greitens: A former Navy SEAL, Rhodes Scholar and Missouri’s 56th governor, Greitens was widely considered a rising star in the Republican Party with a real shot at the White House some day. Now he’s fighting to stave off impeachment and jail time. Throughout it all, Greitens has maintained his innocence and vowed to fight off all charges and remain in office.
Mark Bobak: A former chief legal officer for Anheuser-Busch, Bobak is one of Greitens' most trusted advisers. While he has no formal role in either Greitens’ campaign or official office, he has enormous influence behind the scenes. Bobak helped connect Greitens to his defense attorneys and has been seen leaving the St. Louis courtroom in the run-up to Greitens’ criminal trial.
Austin Chambers: Chambers, a 22-year-old Georgia native, is Greitens’ top political adviser. He runs the governor’s nonprofit, A New Missouri Inc., and is the protégé of Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. Chambers is accused of tricking a former campaign manager into taking the fall for the way the Greitens campaign obtained the donor list of The Mission Continues, a charity Greitens started in 2007. Chambers vehemently denies the allegation.
Rex Burlison: A former member of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's staff, Burlison was appointed by Nixon to serve as circuit judge for the 22nd Circuit in 2011. He briefly served as an associated circuit judge in 2000 and as an alderman for the city of Cottleville from 1999 to 2000. He presided over a 2014 gender discrimination case against Anheuser-Busch in which James Bennett, one of Greitens’ attorneys, represented the beer company, and Mark Bobak was called to testify. A jury ultimately sided with Anheuser-Busch.
Edward Dowd, James Bennett and Jim Martin: The St. Louis-based Dowd Bennett law firm is defending Greitens against both of the felony charges he faces. The firm has represented some of the country’s biggest companies, including Walmart, Monsanto and Anheuser-Busch. Dowd and Martin are former U.S. attorneys, while Bennett is a former law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. All three are partners in the firm.
Scott Rosenblum: A high-profile St. Louis criminal defense attorney, Rosenblum has represented dozens of professional athletes and celebrities over his long career. In 1999, he represented a male stripper prosecuted for invasion of privacy for secretly videotaping women having sex with him and later showing those tapes to friends.
Jack Garvey: A former St. Louis judge, Garvey was appointed to the bench by two Democratic governors — Mel Carnahan in 1997 and Bob Holden in 2003. He retired in 2015 and is a partner in a suburban St. Louis law firm where he focuses on representing those injured by pharmaceutical products and defective medical devices. He previously served as a St. Louis alderman.
Ross Garber: Garber is a Washington, D.C.-based attorney whose previous clients include three former governors who faced impeachment proceedings: Robert Bentley of Alabama, Mark Sanford of South Carolina and John Rowland of Connecticut. (Bentley and Rowland resigned; Sanford avoided impeachment and now serves in Congress.) Garber is working for the governor’s office, not Greitens’ personal defense team, and is thus being paid out of the taxpayer-funded governor’s office budget.
Catherine Hanaway: A former U.S. attorney and speaker of the Missouri House, Hanaway represents Greitens’ campaign staff in the many ongoing investigations. In 2016, she ran against Greitens in the Republican gubernatorial primary. During that campaign, she ridiculed him for accepting $1 million from a donor accused of sexually, physically and emotionally abusing a woman for 13 years. If Greitens didn’t return the donation, Hanaway said at the time, it would raise “serious questions about Mr. Greitens’ judgment and whom he surrounds himself with.” He didn't return the money.
Jeff Roe: The longtime GOP political consultant’s public relations firm is taking the lead in defending the governor in the media. One of Roe’s top lieutenants, Aaron Baker, is working to stave off the push for impeachment in the statehouse as Greitens’ lobbyist. Roe is also close with Stan Herzog, one of Greitens’ biggest campaign donors, and Todd Graves, the Missouri GOP chairman whose law firm started a legal defense fund for staff in the governor’s office.
Kim Gardner: Elected as St. Louis circuit attorney in January 2017, Gardner is the first African-American to hold the job as the city’s top prosecutor. She previously served two terms as a Democrat in the Missouri House and was a prosecutor in the office of her predecessor, Jennifer Joyce, from 2005 to 2010. Her campaign for circuit attorney focused on a pledge to push for stricter gun laws, improved diversity in the circuit attorney’s office and criminal justice reform in the wake of the 2014 killing in Ferguson of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a white police officer.
Robert Dierker: A former circuit judge appointed by Republican Gov. John Ashcroft, Dierker serves as Gardner’s chief trial assistant. In 2006, he released a book bashing what he said was liberal bias in the judiciary. The book, "The Tyranny of Tolerance: A Sitting Judge Breaks the Code of Silence to Expose the Liberal Judicial Assault," inspired calls for Dierker to be removed from the bench.
Robert Steele: A public defender for 24 years, Steele was one of Gardner’s first hires when she took office last year. He was the prosecutor in the 2017 trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, who was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a young black man, Anthony Lamar Smith. Stockley was acquitted.
Ronald Sullivan: Sullivan is a law professor at Harvard University hired by Gardner to consult the prosecution in the Greitens case. His fields of expertise, according to his university bio, include “criminal law, criminal procedure, trial practice and techniques, legal ethics, and race theory.” He previously represented Michael Brown's family.
William Don Tisaby: A former FBI agent turned private investigator, Tisaby became a focal point in Greitens’ attorneys' efforts to get the invasion-of-privacy charge dismissed. He’s been accused of lying about various parts of the investigation and withholding evidence favorable to the defense. He ultimately decided to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
K.S.: A mother of two and a hairdresser from St. Louis, she was separated from her husband when she had her first sexual encounter with Greitens in March 2015. She testified under oath to a Missouri House committee and to St. Louis prosecutors that Greitens led her to his basement, fastened her hands to a piece of exercise equipment, blindfolded her, undressed her and took a photo without her consent. She says he then threatened to release it if she ever revealed their relationship. She went on to accuse Greitens of coercive and violent sexual misconduct.
P.S.: The alleged victim’s ex-husband. He secretly recorded his then-wife confessing to the affair during a period when they were trying to reconcile their marriage. After occasionally speaking with reporters in 2017, he gave the recording to St. Louis TV station KMOV, which ran the story on Jan. 10. He says he came forward reluctantly, out of fear for his life and concern for his children. His ex-wife says he did so out of a desire for revenge against Greitens for breaking up their marriage.
Al Watkins: Watkins is the ex-husband’s attorney. He also briefly represented Tisaby and a St. Louis Republican who claimed he was interviewed by the FBI about Greitens. Watkins is now a part of the investigation himself after admitting he received two $50,000 payments from an anonymous source to help offset the ex-husband’s legal expenses.
Scott Faughn: A Republican newspaper publisher and TV host, Faughn was revealed to have delivered one of the $50,000 payments to Watkins. Faughn has said the money wasn't for the ex-husband's legal fees but rather to buy the secret recordings from Watkins for a book about the 2016 gubernatorial campaign. He is a longtime critic of the governor. One of the sponsors of his TV show is Sterling Bank, a major player in the low-income housing tax credits market that Greitens has maneuvered to eliminate.
The Mission Continues
Michael Hafner and Daniel Laub: Hafner and Laub are two former Greitens campaign workers whose testimony to investigators led to charges of felony computer tampering against the governor over his use of a donor list belonging to The Mission Continues. Laub also testified that he was duped into taking the fall for the way the campaign obtained the list, alleging the disclosure paperwork filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission was a lie.
Cole County prosecutor Mark Richardson: Richardson is the prosecutor with jurisdiction to bring charges involving allegations that Greitens knowingly filed false reports with the Missouri Ethics Commission — a class A misdemeanor. Attorney General Hawley turned over evidence to Richardson in the hopes he would file charges, but thus far Richardson has remained silent as to what he intends to do.
Speaker Todd Richardson: A Republican from Poplar Bluff, Richardson became speaker in 2015 upon the resignation of John Diehl over revelations that he had an improper relationship with a House intern. Since then, Richardson has championed tougher campaign ethics laws and helped craft new sexual harassment policies in the House. He created the investigative committee that has produced two damning reports of alleged wrongdoing by the governor, and he spearheaded the effort to call lawmakers into special session on Friday to consider impeachment.
Rep. Jay Barnes: The Jefferson City Republican was chosen to chair the Special Investigative Committee on Oversight, which was tasked with investigating accusations of misconduct against the governor. An attorney whose practice focuses on personal injury, privacy law and consumer protection, Barnes previously served as general counsel of the Missouri Senate and policy counsel and speechwriter for former Republican Gov. Matt Blunt.
Former Chief Justice Chip Robertson: Robertson serves as special counsel for the Special Investigative Committee on Oversight. He previously served on the state Supreme Court, appointed in 1985 by Gov. John Ashcroft, a Republican. He was chief justice of the court from 1991 to 1993 and served in 1994 when Secretary of State Judith Moriarty was impeached by the Missouri House and removed from office by the state Supreme Court.
Mark Pedroli and Ben Sansone: Pedroli and Sansone, attorneys from the St. Louis suburbs, filed a lawsuit against the governor’s office late last year accusing Greitens and his staff of engaging in an ongoing conspiracy to violate Missouri’s open records laws by using Confide, an app that deletes text messages after they’ve been read. Despite efforts by the governor’s attorneys to get the case dismissed, Pedroli and Sansone’s lawsuit continues to move forward in Cole County court.