Missouri House looking into unauthorized signature
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri House panel has broadened its investigation of Gov. Eric Greitens to delve into questions about a document with an unauthorized signature of another elected official — something the governor’s office chalks up to a technical mistake.
A special House committee has been looking into a range of allegations against Greitens, including claims that he used a donor list without permission from a charity he founded to raise money for his gubernatorial campaign and that he slapped and shoved a woman during an extramarital affair in 2015. Greitens has denied criminal wrongdoing.
Lawmakers will start a special session Friday to consider possible impeachment or other discipline against him.
The House committee is also checking into an executive order issued Jan. 10, 2017, the Republican governor’s second day in office. The order directed state agencies to halt all rulemaking and review ways to reduce state regulations.
Records provided to The Associated Press show a version of the order initially posted to Greitens’ website was different from the official version filed with Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft. Although Ashcroft never approved the version on Greitens’ website, his signature was listed below it.
Following a May 4 report by the AP, the House issued two subpoenas to Greitens about the order. In response, the governor’s office on Tuesday provided dozens of documents to the committee. It also provided those records to the AP.
Greitens’ deputy counsel Justin Smith in an explanation to the House wrote that the Office of Administration copied text from the executive order and used a PDF image of Greitens’ and Ashcroft’s signatures for use on the website. Governor’s office attorney Eddie Greim said the text initially used was from an earlier version of the executive order that didn’t include changes from the final version. He said governor’s office staff at first sent the wrong text to the Office of Administration to post on the website.
Greim said the goal was to make the text searchable online and that the previous administration had also used the same practice, as opposed to using PDFs of official orders.
“The Governor’s Office did not manipulate or forge Secretary Ashcroft’s signature, nor did it ask anyone to do so,” Smith wrote in a memo to the House investigatory committee.
The discrepancy prompted questions from both Ashcroft and the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, which oversees rules issued by state agencies. The incorrect version of the order was pulled from the website Jan. 12, 2017.
House investigatory committee chairman Rep. Jay Barnes said during a Wednesday morning hearing that he hadn’t yet reviewed the documents.
The hearing at times turned testy and confrontational as committee members questioned Greim and attorney Ross Garber, who represent the governor’s office. The attorneys urged the House to adopt rules allowing the governor’s lawyers to call and publicly question any witnesses whose testimony could be used to try to impeach him.
Until now, the committee has conducted its witness testimony in secret and has not disclosed the identity of the woman who has alleged misconduct by Greitens during their sexual encounters.
House committee members said they, too, want a public hearing process that gets to the truth. They want Greitens to testify, which he so far has not done.
Garber and Greim said the decision about whether the governor will testify would be made in conjunction with attorneys who have represented him in criminal cases.
Associated Press writer David A. Lieb contributed to this report.