The state will not pay the legal bills of attorneys hired by former Governor Eric Greitens to defend his office in possible impeachment proceedings.
Missouri Office of Administration Commissioner Sarah Steelman addressed letters to attorneys Edward Greim and Ross Garber notifying them the state would not pay them for legal services in Greitens’ defense during a House investigation.
The two lawyers had insisted before a hearing of a special House committee investigating Greitens that they were representing the Office of the Governor, not Greitens personally.
Steelman said the primary beneficiary of their legal services appeared to be the former governor and that services to the office itself were not evident.
Greim of the Graves Garrett law firm in Kansas City and Washington D.C. based Garber had collectively billed the state more than $150,000 for legal services. Greim identified his fee at $340 per hour before the House committee while Garber noted he was charging $320 per hour – half his normal rate.
Garber, who has represented three other governors facing possible impeachment told the Kansas City Star he’d never had a client refuse to pay.
“Other states honor their contracts, and it may become more difficult for Missouri to enter into contracts, particularly with lawyers, if it is not going to honor them,” Garber told The Star.
Garber previously supplied legal services to embattled governors Robert Bentley of Alabama, Mark Sanford of South Carolina and John Rowland of Connecticut. He said his firm, Connecticut-based Shipman & Goodwin, was considering its legal options.
The House committee chairman, Republican Jay Barnes, along with Democratic state Auditor Nicole Galloway and Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley had all questioned Greitens’ hiring of the attorneys.
Barnes sent a letter earlier this week to the Office of Administration, requesting it to refuse payment to Greim and Garber. Galloway issued a statement late Thursday praising Administration Commissioner Steelman’s decision.
“As Auditor, it is my duty to protect Missourians and their tax dollars,” said Galloway. “I’m glad the administration addressed the concerns I first brought forward in May. Taxpayer dollars should not be wasted by paying for Eric Greitens’ private attorneys.”
Hawley previously said the lawyers seem focused on advancing the individual interests of Greitens rather than the Office of the Governor.
The attorney general stated that the Office of Governor lacks authority to retain private impeachment counsel and that only the legislature could authorize the governor to hire a private attorney at taxpayer expense.
Greitens did not immediately issue a statement concerning Steelman’s decision. The former governor appointed Steelman to head the Office of Administration in January 2017, shortly after he was elected.
The House had been investigating Greitens over numerous legal and ethical issues. It recently dropped its court case seeking documents from Greitens’ dark money non-profit organization.
The legislature on Monday adjourned its special session to investigate Greitens which effectively dissolved the committee Barnes headed looking into the matter.
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