One of the lawyers who represented former Gov. Eric Greitens before a state House committee investigating his conduct says the state’s rejection of their bills sets a “terrible precedent.”
“If it works this time, then the next time there’s some sort of politically controversial engagement, you’ll have the same thing happen again,” said Kansas City attorney Ed Greim. “We’re going to have to have officeholders who have deep pockets, because they’re going to have to personally pay for state government work.”
In separate letters Thursday to Greim and Washington, D.C.-based attorney Ross Garber, Sarah Steelman, commissioner of Missouri's Office of Administration, said she cannot pay them because they failed to prove their services were within “the purpose of the General Assembly's appropriation.”
“It appears that the primary beneficiary of the legal services that your firm[s] rendered was the former governor individually,” Steelman wrote, “and that the services were not ‘necessary for the efficient conduct’ of the governor’s office, which at most received incidental benefits from these services.”
On Friday, Greim called St. Louis Public Radio from London to respond to Steelman’s decision.
“They never told us that they thought there was some sort of additional evidence they needed, other than our bill,” Greim said. “I plan to contact her office to make sure they’re aware of all the facts, because I’m sure that they cannot have them right now.”
He maintains that Missouri has “a clear legal duty” to pay him and Garber for their services, and is not ruling out a lawsuit against the state: “I’d think we’d have to [sue], because at that point we’d have a very large invoice unpaid, and we can’t just let it sit.”
Garber has so far been unavailable for comment.
According to Steelman’s letters, Greim billed the state $89,312.99 and Garber billed $64,096.86. Greim charged $340 an hour for representing Greitens. Garber charged $320, which he said was half his normal hourly rate.
The two attorneys appeared last month before the Missouri House committee that had been investigating the former governor. Greim and Garber tried to push the committee to adopt rules that would have allowed them to subpoena and cross examine witnesses, including the woman with whome Greitens had an affair before he became governor. The committee unanimously refused.
Greitens resigned from office two weeks ago. He was succeeded by former Lt. Gov. Mike Parson.
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