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Kendrick questions secrecy around Greitens House committee

(Missourinet) The bipartisan Missouri House committee investigating Governor Eric Greitens’ indictment will meet again Monday afternoon in a closed session at the Jefferson City Police Department (JCPD).

The House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight meets Monday at 1 p.m.

House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, and House Minority Whip Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, both received questions about the committee on Thursday during separate media briefings with the Capitol Press Corps.

Speaker Richardson says the process is working.

“I think Chairman (Jay) Barnes laid out the case for why those hearings needed to be conducted in a closed fashion,” Richardson says. “There will be an open phase to those committee hearings when they get to that point.”

Committee chairman Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, has emphasized the importance of protecting the identities of witnesses.

While Richardson won’t discuss the specifics of what the committee is looking at, he did discuss the process.

“But I think there are good reasons why we gave the committee the ability to close meetings and that’s to protect the confidentiality of the witnesses and to make sure that they get to a fair accounting of the facts,” says Richardson.

During Tuesday night’s committee organizational meeting, Barnes said that having hearings with “completely open” testimony “would destroy the very purpose of the committee.” Barnes notes this is a fact-finding process.

The committee will issue a public report at the investigation’s conclusion.

Meantime, Minority Whip Kendrick has concerns with the process involving the committee.

Kendrick says he understands the importance of protecting witnesses. But he notes House Democrats had amendments to make aspects more open.

“We felt like there are ways to tighten down the process to make this just a cleaner process for everyone involved and help out the entire process and the committee moving forward,” Kendrick says.

Kendrick tells the Capitol Press Corps the seven-member House committee will work well together, adding they have a critical job.

He does say it “could very well get ugly”, saying Greitens’ allies may issue attacks.

Barnes has urged reporters to respect the privacy of witnesses in this case.

Jefferson City Police issued a statement last week about the hearings at JCPD.

The statement read, in part: “We can confirm we are providing a secure location to accommodate the Missouri House of Representatives for a closed hearing.”

A St. Louis City grand jury has indicted Greitens on one felony count of invasion of privacy. Greitens’ lawyer, former U.S. Attorney, Ed Dowd, has filed a motion to dismiss.

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