Gov. Eric Greitens’ office's enlisting of two private attorneys to help navigate possible impeachment proceedings has prompted state Auditor Nicole Galloway to demand any information on how the attorneys were hired and how they're being paid.
Ross Garber is a Washington, D.C., attorney who has previously defended three other governors facing impeachment proceedings: Robert Bentley of Alabama, Mark Sanford of South Carolina and John Rowland of Connecticut.
Garber is charging the state $320 an hour, he said, or half what he normally charges.
Edward Greim is a Kansas City-based attorney working for the Graves Garrett law firm, which Greim said is charging the state $340 an hour.
Both attorneys represent the governor's office, not Greitens personally. Parker Briden, the governor’s press secretary, has previously said fees are being covered by the governor’s office budget.
A special legislative session begins Friday at 6:30 p.m. to consider possible disciplinary action against the governor, which could culminate in impeachment. Greim is set to present the governor’s office proposal for how the special session should proceed to a House investigative committee Wednesday morning.
In a letter sent Monday to the governor's general counsel, Lucinda Luetkemeyer, the auditor’s office asked that several pieces of information be turned over by the end of the week. Among the auditor’s requests: copies of all contracts with private attorneys, any requests for proposals or bids and information on where in the state’s budget the attorneys are being paid.
“As auditor, it is my duty to hold every elected official accountable for the responsible use of taxpayer dollars,” Galloway, a Democrat, said in a statement to The Star. “The people of Missouri deserve to know whether their tax dollars are being used to represent the governor in any disciplinary action before the legislature.”
Briden and Luetkemeyer did not respond to a request for comment by The Star Tuesday afternoon about the auditor’s request.
As Greitens fends off allegations of wrongdoing on multiple fronts, questions have emerged about exactly how he's paying his mounting legal bills.
The state is picking up the tab for private counsel defending the governor's office in a Sunshine Law lawsuit filed in December over Greitens' use of an app that deletes a text message after it's been read.
The Bryan Cave law firm in Kansas City is representing the governor's office in that lawsuit for $140 an hour.
A nonprofit called ERG Defense Fund was set up to offset the governor's criminal defense associated with two felonies he has been charged with in St. Louis. One of those cases was dropped by St. Louis prosecutors on Monday. But Jim Bennett, a partner with the Dowd Bennett firm representing the governor in those cases, said Greitens is "personally responsible for his legal fees."
"To my knowledge, I know my firm, for example, hasn’t gotten any legal fees paid out by a legal defense fund," Bennett said. "And the only money coming in has been from Eric and Sheena."
A second nonprofit, called Missouri Legal Expense Fund, was set up to help cover legal expenses for Greitens' staff. Greim also serves as attorney for that fund.
Over the years, the auditor’s office has on numerous occasions raised concerns related to the contracting and use of private attorneys to represent state government entities. Most recently, auditors raised questions about how private attorneys were hired by Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster's office in 2015 and 2017.
Galloway, who is running for re-election this fall, has tussled previously with Greitens. Most notably, she threatened to issue a subpoena to compel Greitens’ administration to turn over information on its management of income tax refunds.
Greitens said the subpoena was just a political stunt.