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Judge hears suit to enforce House subpoenas, no decision made

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Missouri judge is weighing whether Republican Governor Eric Greitens’ “dark money” group should have to comply with a subpoena from the Missouri House of Representatives.

Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetem heard arguments on Wednesday morning as part of a civil suit filed by the Missouri House against A New Missouri and the governor’s campaign committee, Greitens for Missouri.

Representing the Missouri House, attorney Mark Kempton said that the goal for lawmakers was to get to the bottom of the question as to whether there had been any campaign finance violations involving either entity. Kempton argued that the evidence that had been gathered throughout this process points to the possibility of finance violations.

Due to the June 17 deadline for the House committee’s work, Kempton told Judge Beetem that the House had narrowed its request, instead, asking for the court to enforce the subpoenas regarding communications between Greitens for Missouri and A New Missouri, as well as information about expenditures made by A New Missouri.

As a social welfare nonprofit, A New Missouri is not required by law to disclose its donors, though as the tool for furthering the Governor’s agenda, the nonprofit has run ads supporting both the Governor and his goals.

Kempton said it was not a matter of privacy or violating First Amendment rights, as they were not asking for donor identification, bank records or tax records.

The defense’s attorney, Catherine Hanaway, argued that the subpoena for information from A New Missouri is not relevant, saying it is outside of the scope of the House investigation, as it is a separate entity from the Governor.

“Eric Greitens is not A New Missouri.”

She told the judge that, as of this day, the House has still not demonstrated any evidence of wrongdoing against A New Missouri. Speaking before Beetem, Hanaway told the judge that he was being asked to be the first judge to “wade into muddy waters” in these matters.

“You’re being asked to invade the confidentially and privacy of donors to A New Missouri,” Hanaway told Beetem. “Your decision will set the boundaries into how invasive the House can be and how disruptive the House can be to individuals who are not Eric Greitens.”

Beetem did not issue any ruling on Wednesday but instead directed both parties to deliver any further documents or anything else of importance to Judge Beetem by the close of business on Friday.