The chairman of a bipartisan Missouri House committee investigating Governor Eric Greitens’ indictment says he will not do any media interviews during the investigation.
House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight Chairman Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, addressed reporters during Tuesday night’s organizational meeting.
Barnes notes the committee will issue a public report at the investigation’s conclusion.
“But until that time, you are not going to get any comments from me or members of this committee or hints from members of this committee,” Barnes says. “You (reporters) are wasting your time trying.”
The committee will meet Wednesday (March 7th) morning at 8 at the Jefferson City Police Department (JCPD).
Missouri House communications director Trevor Fox tells Missourinet Wednesday’s meeting has been moved to JCPD because it’s a secure location to protect witness privacy.
Chairman Barnes emphasizes the importance of protecting identities of witnesses.
“As a committee that wants to go through a fact-finding process, having that (hearings with testimony) completely open would destroy the very purpose of the committee,” says Barnes. “We also have I believe a responsibility to protect the identity and the privacy of witnesses.”
Barnes spoke at the organizational meeting, where the committee voted 7-0 to close Wednesday’s meeting. Missouri House Assistant Minority Leader Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis, and State Rep. Tommie Pierson Jr., D-St. Louis, joined the committee’s five Republicans on that vote.
Barnes urges reporters to respect the privacy of witnesses in this case. He issued his appeal to about 20 reporters who covered the committee’s organizational meeting.
“I ask for everyone here to respect this process and to respect witnesses who are appearing in front of this committee, to respect their privacy,” Barnes says.
There were about 12 television cameras at Tuesday night’s House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight meeting.
Television stations from St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Columbia and Jefferson City covered the meeting, and House officials brought in additional power strips to accommodate them.
Barnes says he doesn’t want to see cameras all over the hearing room.
“At a point in the time in the future in which we are having public hearings we will have one camera feed because we are not going to have hearings with the room filled with everyone’s competing cameras,” says Barnes.
A St. Louis City grand jury has indicted Greitens on one felony count of invasion of privacy.
Greitens’ lawyer, former U.S. Attorney Ed Dowd, has filed a motion to dismiss.
If good cause is found, the committee could draft articles of impeachment to be reported to the House.
Click here to listen to the audio of the organizational meeting of the Missouri House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight, which took place on March 6, 2018 in Jefferson City: