JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – He’s the go-to lawyer for Republicans on most political question in the courts, spanning from ballot issues, candidates, congressional redistricting, and now, impeachment proceedings.
Attorney Edward Greim (pictured in featured image, right) of the Graves Garrett law firm in Kansas City has been involved in several high-profile cases in his tenure, including the 2012 redistricting legal challenge, a defamation suit against former Gov. Jay Nixon on behalf of Republican candidate Dave Spence, and what some called a biased ballot summary for proposed changes to Missouri’s Nonpartisan Court Plan.
But his latest foray may be his toughest one yet: representing the Governor’s Office in the impending investigation and potential impeachment proceedings.
Greim and fellow attorney Ross Garber have both been hired to represent the Governor’s office in those potential proceedings, but for Greim, it may be an interesting position: representing the Governor’s Office, while also lobbying for them as well.
Greim also serves as the attorney for the Missouri Legal Expense Fund, a nonprofit set up to help cover legal expenses for Greitens’ staff. EDG lists the same address as Graves Garrett as its residency. The firm that Greim works for is headed by Todd Graves, the chairman of the Missouri Republican Party and an ally to Greitens.
Greim on May 15th filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission as a lobbyist, checking the category that states he only lobbies in the General Assembly. He’s registered with two principals: EDG Legal, Inc. and the Office of the Governor.
Greim’s wife, Claudia, has also had her dealings with the Governor’s Office, having been named to the State Board of Education before subsequently resigning. She said in a statement that she was unwilling to support the Governor’s efforts to oust then-Commissioner Margie Vandeven, and even cast a vote leading to a 4-4 tie on one such motion.
So, it makes sense that some question whether Greim should be allowed to lobby behalf of the Governor’s Office as well as a private entity, and what precedent it might set for the involvement of impeachment attorney with the legislature.
The fact here is that Missouri is in relatively uncharted waters. Still, some point to the impeachment of former Secretary of State Judith Moriarty back in 1994, noting that no lobbyist ever registered for Moriarty, nor worked in an official capacity for a statewide official – paid with taxpayer dollars – while also being registered for a private entity.
State Auditor Nicole Galloway, meanwhile, has requested documents to figure out whether taxpayer dollars have been used to defend Greitens in possible impeachment proceedings. The inquiry comes on the heels of a report received by the State Auditor’s Office claimed that Greitens’ office intended to use public funds to pay private attorneys.
“The people of Missouri deserve to know whether their tax dollars are being used to represent the Governor in any disciplinary action before the legislature,” Galloway said.
In regard to how Greim and Garber are being paid, the Governor’s Office released the following statement:
The House Special Committee on Oversight has retained attorneys from two Missouri law firms to serve as its counsel and to assist the House committee’s taxpayer-paid lawyers. To date, the House committee has served subpoenas and raised issues in court. Following the legislature’s vote to call itself into special session, the Office of the Governor retained Missouri litigation counsel to represent the Office and Governor Greitens in his official capacity in the House proceedings. Edward (“Eddie”) Greim of Graves Garrett LLC will join Ross Garber as outside counsel to the Office of the Governor. Greim is a litigator specializing in Missouri policy and constitutional issues; Garber specializes in providing advice and expertise related to legislative investigations and due process. They will be representing the office, and paid out of the office’s budget.”
Greim is reportedly charging $340 an hour, while Garber is charging half his normal rate, coming in at $320 an hour. The Governor’s press secretary has been reported as saying that their fees are being covered by the governor’s office budget.
The state is already picking up the tab for private counsel defending the governor’s office in the Sunshine Law lawsuit filed in December over Greitens’ use of the Confide app, which deletes a text message after it’s been read.
The Bryan Cave law firm representing the governor’s office in that lawsuit is charging $140 an hour.
But the question of how attorneys are being paid doesn’t end there, either. There’s still the matter of the nonprofit ERG Defense Fund, which was set up earlier this year to offset the criminal defense for the two felony charges Greitens had listed against him, though one of the cases was dropped on Monday. However, Jim Bennett, a partner at Dowd Bennett, the firm representing the governor in those cases, has told reporters that Greitens is “personally responsible for his legal fees.”
“To my knowledge, I know my firm, for example, hasn’t gotten any legal fees paid out by a legal defense fund,” Bennett said. “And the only money coming in has been from Eric and Sheena.”
Benjamin Peters was a reporter for The Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine and also produced the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined The Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield.