'I'm expensive, I’m not free,' says attorney of ex-husband in Greitens case
Freed from a gag order that had mostly silenced him in recent weeks, Al Watkins was ready to talk.
In a profanity-laced interview, the St. Louis attorney who represents the ex-husband of Gov. Eric Greitens’ alleged victim provided new details about the mysterious $100,000 in cash he received in January related to the scandal that has dominated Missouri politics for months.
Watkins said Tuesday that he has been talking to the FBI about Greitens since 2016 and that he alerted the bureau “literally within minutes” of receiving the money.
“I photographed that money and emailed it to an FBI agent,” Watkins said.
When asked about Watkins' claims, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s field office in St. Louis said the bureau does not confirm tips or complaints received.
The money became a subject of intense scrutiny in the lead-up to the governor’s trial, and Watkins became a witness under gag order until the case’s dismissal Monday.
Half of that money was delivered by Scott Faughn, the publisher of The Missouri Times, Watkins said.
But he contradicted Faughn’s claims that he was the source of the money and that it was related to research for a book.
Watkins said he “understood and was led to believe” that both halves of the $100,000 came from the same individual and that Faughn and an anonymous person Watkins described as looking like a courier delivered the money on that person’s behalf.
Faughn could not be reached for comment.
Watkins said he did not know the identity of the person responsible for the payments.
He said that after informing the FBI, he was contacted about the money by a lawyer with the U.S. attorney’s office.
“They said, 'Keep us posted,' ” he said.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office could not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.
Greitens’ attorney, Jim Bennett, referenced the money on Monday after the case against the governor was dismissed and said the governor’s legal team had been unable to identify its source.
“We tried to chase that down everywhere we possibly could. We ran out of time to do that before the trial. We assume that other people with power will continue to do that effort … because I think people have a right to know about how this whole case started where there was zero evidence but all of that power and all of that money was brought to bear against Gov. Greitens,” Bennett said.
Greitens’ legal team has previously implied that the money is linked to business interests angry about the governor’s decision to suspend a low-income housing tax credit program. The legal team did not respond to Watkins' Tuesday comments.
Watkins blasted the governor, who he asserted should be charged with more serious offenses than just invasion of privacy if a special prosecutor is appointed to take over the case.
“The governor is very disingenuous when he smiles his veneer smile and pronounces he has won a victory. … Nobody has found him innocent,” Watkins said.
Throughout the interview, Watkins made references to the governor’s anatomy and to various sex acts.
Watkins repeatedly asserted that he was in lawful possession of the money and disputed the notion that the money helped lead to the story’s public disclosure, noting that the allegations against the governor had been widely circulated in media and political circles since 2016.
“This story was out before the money was received,” he said.
Watkins said his client had refused a request from Roy Temple, the former chair of the Missouri Democratic Party, during the 2016 campaign to share the tapes his client had recorded of his wife speaking about her encounters with the governor. He also said his client had refused an offer from a British newspaper to pay for the tapes.
Temple said he talked to the ex-husband about the allegations in 2016 before the man retained Watkins as an attorney.
The man played him a portion of the audio and Temple told him he would have to go on the record for the allegations to become politically relevant, Temple said.
He said he was later informed by Watkins that the man did not wish to go public with the information.
The Star's Steve Vockrodt contributed to this report.