Editorials

After 'crimes, misconduct, and moral turpitude,' it's time to hold Greitens accountable

Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens
Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens The Associated Press

The Missouri House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight - the so-called Greitens committee - ended its work Monday with a scathing parting shot at the disgraced former governor.

In a letter every Missourian should read, Rep. Jay Barnes was emphatic: The committee he chaired had plenty of evidence of Eric Greitens' involvement in "multiple acts constituting crimes, misconduct, and acts of moral turpitude," it says.

Greitens slandered the woman at the center of the case, Barnes says. The former governor lied about use of a donor list belonging to a veterans' charity. Greitens faced a near-certain criminal conviction for computer tampering, the chairman writes.

The Republican "may have engaged in criminal fraud" in a grant application. He may have committed literary fraud. The list goes on.

Barnes was particularly concerned about A New Missouri, the former governor's dark money nonprofit. "Missourians deserve a full accounting of A New Missouri, Inc., which I have come to believe was a criminal enterprise from its inception," the chairman writes.

Barnes says he plans to file a formal ethics complaint against A New Missouri. He also suggests that the state attorney general and Cole County prosecutor investigate the secretive organization.

We support these inquiries. We'd also suggest federal authorities, including the FBI, examine A New Missouri's financial books.

But authorities may want to expand their vision beyond the nonprofit alone. In total, the letter provides investigators with a clear road map to pursue several criminal investigations of Greitens and his associates.

Barnes is correct when he says the committee he chaired is not the vehicle for such inquiries.

"I understand this may disappoint some of you - and some in the public - who demand further accountability for Eric Greitens," Barnes writes. "But we cannot investigate alleged illegal activity by someone else with actions of our own that are either illegal or create problematic precedent for future legislators."

Missourians owe a debt to Barnes, and all the members of the Greitens committee, for their hard work, seriousness of purpose, transparency and bipartisan approach. The committee would have failed had it engaged in partisan bickering or excessive political theater.

Eric Greitens would still be governor.

It's regrettable Greitens will never face the committee's questions under oath. That's why it's imperative that law enforcement officials, and the state ethics commission, take the Barnes letter seriously.

Missourians are entitled to a complete examination of their former governor's behavior - to see that justice is done, and that his like is never elected to office again.

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