JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — House Speaker Time Jones, R-Eureka, has asked a Cole County Judge to dismiss a case surrounding his subpoenas of six members of Gov. Jay Nixon’s staff, and is planning on announcing a second legislative committee to investigate the Department of Revenue issue.
After Jones’ committee issued six subpoenas last week compelling appearance and testimony at an investigative hearing, Nixon’s lawyers filed a motion to temporarily block the subpoenas. In the motion, the administration argued that the bipartisan committee, which has non-legislative members, was not a proper legislative committee and had no authority to compel testimony through subpoenas.
Since then, Cole County Judge Dan Green was asked by Jones’ lawyers to dismiss the motion to block the subpoenas, saying they no longer mattered because the hearing date has passed.
“Several individuals were subpoenaed in an attempt to compel their appearance at a scheduled hearing of the Bipartisan Investigative Committee on Privacy Protection,” Jones told The Missouri Times in a statement. “However, since the hearing date has come and gone, the initial subpoenas are now a moot point and contesting them in court would accomplish nothing.”
Chairman of the special committee, Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, said the subpoenas were only necessary because the individuals named previously had agreed to voluntarily testify and then cancelled at the last minute, prompting subpoenas for the Thursday morning hearing to be issued late Wednesday night.
Cox told The Missouri Times that — in order to ensure no further challenges to the committee’s legislative authority would be raised — the House would name a second committee, consisting solely of legislators, to continue the investigation and, if necessary, re-issue subpoenas.
“I’ve sent personal letters [to the 6 staffers] requesting dates on either the 23rd or 24th of July, to find out if that’s a time they can be available, I haven’t heard back yet but I’m hopeful that I will,” Cox said. “If they continue to not show up, then we may have to issue subpoena’s again. I don’t want to do that, but as chairman I have an obligation to do whatever is necessary to fulfill our legislative duty of overseeing the executive branch.”
Cox said he did not believe the current committee overstepped its legal authority, but that a new legislative committee was necessary to prevent “any qualms or questions” about their authority to compel testimony, a power granted to committees through state statute 21.400 RSMo.
“It is my hope that subpoenas aren’t even necessary going forward,” Cox said. “But we will continue to responsibly investigate the matter, and if we need to subpoena individuals to get information, then we will pursue that.”
Cox said that details about the new committee could be available as early as this week.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.