State Auditor Nicole Galloway is continuing a probe into Republican Governor Eric Greitens use of public money for private attorneys to defend his office.
The embattled Governor faces possible impeachment and legal trouble over a number of issues.
Galloway, a Democrat, first sent a letter to Lucinda Luetkemeyer, the state’s attorney in the governor’s office asking for information about the possible use of private attorneys. She noted that after inquiring, she received a letter from Attorney General Josh Hawley expressing doubt as to the Office of the Governor’s legal authority to hire private counsel. Galloway said she then sent a letter to the departments who are responsible for processing and paying state expenses – the Office of Administration and the State Treasurer, Republican Eric Schmitt.
After receiving return correspondence Tuesday, Galloway said it appeared that when the State Treasurer signs checks, the office merely accepts the paperwork and issues the payment with very limited review. Based on her statement Tuesday, the auditor appears to now believe the Office of Administration will play a role in determining whether Greitens can use public resources to represent his office in disciplinary action before the legislature.
Galloway said she still questioned the use of taxpayer dollars to pay the private attorneys – Washington based Ross Garber and Ed Greim of the Graves Graves law firm in Kansas City.
The auditor’s counsel sent a letter Tuesday to Luetkemeyer, seeking answers to questions the counsel said had previously gone unanswered.
The correspondence sought information about proposals, bids or contracts pertaining to the hiring of the private attorneys, identification of any contracts, the amount of money paid to the attorneys and any itemized billing statements, identification of the specific budget line through which each attorney has or will be paid, and a description of each attorney’s duties.
The letter further asks for clarification as to whether attorney-client privilege applies to Governor Greitens or the Office of the Governor. It also requests for a distinction to be made between “Governor Greitens in his official capacity” and “the Office of the Governor” and asks which entity attorney-client privilege applies to.
In addition, the letter asks for a contingency plan if the attorney fees have to be paid from a department other than the governor’s office. It requests a response by Friday at noon.
The Attorneys – Garber and Greim- are making $660 per hour between them. Last week, Garner told a special House committee investigating Greitens that he’s working for half his usual fee.
That same committee is now holding the second hearing in what is a special session of the legislature on possible impeachment of Governor Greitens.
The committee is investigating accusations he sexually coerced and physical abused an unnamed woman in 2015 before he became governor. A felony charge that Greitens took and transmitted a non consensual photo of the woman while she was undressed, bound and blindfolded has been dropped, but might be refiled. He’s alleged to have threatened blackmail in that incident if she mentioned his name.
The committee is also examining details of a felony computer tampering charge Greitens faces for allegedly obtaining a donor list from his former charity without consent and using it for campaign purposes.
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