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

Barnes to Steelman: Don’t pay Greitens’ attorneys

Attorneys Ross Garber and Ed Greim were hired by former Gov. Eric Greitens to represent him "in his capacity as governor."
Attorneys Ross Garber and Ed Greim were hired by former Gov. Eric Greitens to represent him "in his capacity as governor."

The chairman of a Missouri House committee that investigated former Gov. Eric Greitens doesn’t want the state to pay for his lawyers.

Greitens hired attorneys Ed Greim and Ross Garber to represent him in his official capacity as governor. When questioned under oath by the House investigative committee last month, the two confirmed that they were billing the state for their services – Greim was billing the state $340 an hour, while Garber was billing $320 an hour.

Committee chair Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, is asking administration commissioner Sarah Steelman to not pay Garber and Greim for their services, which he says totals $153,300.

“Missouri taxpayers should not be on the hook for lawyers that Eric Greitens used for his own personal purposes,” Barnes wrote. “Accordingly, if Garber and Greim seek compensation, they should do so from Eric Greitens himself, not Missouri taxpayers.”

He also said the hiring of Greim and Garber violated state law, an argument supported in letters issued last month by Attorney General Josh Hawley and state Auditor Nicole Galloway.

“State law expressly prohibits executive officials, including the governor, from participating, ‘directly or indirectly,’ in government contracting decisions,” Barnes wrote, “when they know that the result of such decision ‘may be the acceptance of the performance of a service ... to that agency for consideration in excess of $500 value ... to him ... unless the transaction is made pursuant to an award on a contract let ... after public notice.’”

Steelman could not be reached for comment. But Greim responded late Tuesday in a written statement, saying that the OA commissioner "has a clear legal duty to pay our invoices."

"Defending the [former] governor from the charges levied against him or serving as his personal or 'private' counsel was not our role, and anyone who claims to the contrary is intentionally misstating the facts," Greim said. "We know that Missouri stands behind lawful contracts, [and] we remain confident that cooler heads will prevail."

Garber and Greim had also pushed to add rules during the special session that would have allowed them to issue subpoenas and cross-examine witnesses on behalf of Greitens, but the committee rejected the idea.

The status of the committee has not been announced since the General Assembly adjourned Monday.

Follow Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

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