JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Despite discussion to the contrary, the Missouri Governor’s defense in an alleged blackmail case is not pro bono.
A member of Gov. Eric Greitens’ legal team confirmed to the Missouri Times the Governor “is personally responsible for his legal fees on the 2015 private matter. This is not pro bono.” How the personal defense is being funded was not clarified.
Greitens’ is being represented by Dowd Bennett law firm in the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office investigation into the allegations of blackmail and misconduct.
The investigation is centered about allegations that Greitens took a photo of a woman — whom he admits to having an extramarital affair with — while she was bound and blindfolded, then allegedly threatened to blackmail her if she spoke of the relationship. While the woman has not come forward, the allegations stem from a secretly-recorded conversation between her and her then-husband.
Since admitting the extramarital affair, Greitens has repeated denied threatening the woman. He has never directly stated that he did not take a photo.
Just this week, news broke that the ex-husband of the woman has been subpoenaed to testify before a St. Louis grand jury. The grand jury investigation is expected to begin the last week of February.
Dowd Bennett was also retained by Greitens in another legal matter, this time involving public records and his use of Confide — an app that deletes text messages once they have been read and prevents the user from saving, forwarding, or taking screenshots of the messages.
The Governor’s team made clear that the taxpayers are not funding the defense in the open records lawsuit.
“Though the Governor’s Office would ordinarily be able to bill the state for the work made necessary due to the conflict, the Governor’s Office is committed to not imposing any burden on the taxpayers in this context,” the Missouri Times was told by the Governor’s staff after the third inquiry. “No money from the State Legal Expense Fund will be expended to pay for lawyers in this matter.”
According to the statement, on January 11 — six days after the Attorney General’s office appointed Dowd Bennett law firm to defend the office in the Sansone lawsuit — the “law firm notified the Attorney General’s office that it would be representing the Governor’s Office in the Sansone lawsuit at no cost.”
The Missouri Times was unable to confirm that “at no cost” was referencing Dowd Bennett taking on the case pro bono.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.