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Covering state lawmakers, bills, and policy emerging from Jefferson City.

Special committee investigating Greitens’ indictment holds brief first meeting

At left, Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, tells media members to expect closed-door meetings and to respect the privacy of witnesses called to testify.
At left, Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, tells media members to expect closed-door meetings and to respect the privacy of witnesses called to testify.

The first meeting of the Missouri House committee investigating the indictment of Gov. Eric Greitens lasted just over two minutes, the bulk of which saw the head of the committee telling the media what he expects from them.

Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, said to expect most, if not all, of the proceedings to take place behind closed doors.

“As a committee that wants to go through a fact-finding process, having that completely open would destroy the very purpose of the committee,” he said. “We also have, I believe, a responsibility to protect the identity and the privacy of witnesses, and we will do our best to make sure that happens.”

Barnes then said neither he nor any members of the committee are going to publicly discuss anything they do until their official report is issued.

“At the conclusion of this committee, we will have a public report and records of our proceedings, 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,” he said. “You are wasting your time trying, and it wouldn’t be fair to anyone involved in this process.”

Committee members then voted to close their next meeting to the public, during which they’ll begin taking testimony from witnesses. That meeting is taking place Wednesday at the Jefferson City police station, three blocks from the capitol. Barnes did not say why the committee was meeting at the police station, which has several private entrances.

The Special Investigative Committee on Oversight has until April 9 to conduct its investigation, and its report will either recommend impeachment, censure, or no action against Greitens. He’s accused of taking a semi-nude photo of his then-mistress without her permission in 2015.

Greitens and state Republican party officials call the indictment a political witch hunt by a Democratic prosecutor.

His trial is set to begin May 14 in St. Louis Circuit Court.

Follow Marshall on Twitter:@MarshallGReport

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St. Louis Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a native of Mississippi and proud alumnus of Ole Miss (welcome to the SEC, Mizzou!). He has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off an old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Liberty Belle, and their cat, Honey.