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Missouri Refuses to Pay Ex-Governor's Legal Bills

Missouri has refused to pay two attorneys hired to help Eric Greitens stave off possible impeachment, leaving the bill up to the former governor himself.

By Allison Kite

Missouri has refused to pay two attorneys hired to help Eric Greitens stave off possible impeachment, leaving the bill up to the former governor himself.

The Missouri Office of Administration declined to pay Ross Garber and Edward Greim, who collectively billed the state for more than $150,000.

In two identical letters dated Thursday, Sarah Steelman, who heads the Office of Administration, told Garber and Greim the state wouldn't be paying their firms for legal services they provided Greitens while he was facing possible impeachment by the Missouri House.

"It appears that the primary beneficiary of the legal services that your firm rendered was the former governor individually and that the services were not 'necessary for the efficient conduct' of the Governor's Office," Steelman said.

Steelman added  the office of the governor "at most received incidental benefits" from the attorneys' representation.

Garber said he assumed the office made a "preliminary decision since it lacks any basis in or reasoning in fact or law" and that it would be reconsidered.

As Greitens' attorneys, he said he and Greim were caught in the middle of a "political and politically motivated fight."

"But I expect cooler heads will prevail," he said.

Greitens did not immediately issue a statement.

Garber, a D.C.-based attorney, has represented three other governors facing impeachment: Robert Bentley of Alabama, Mark Sanford of South Carolina and John Rowland of Connecticut. He said he has never had a client -- governor facing impeachment or otherwise -- refuse to pay.

"Other states honor their contracts, and it may become more difficult for Missouri to enter into contracts, particularly with lawyers, if it is not going to honor them," Garber said.

Garber said his firm, Connecticut-based Shipman & Goodwin, was considering all legal options.

Greim did not immediately return a request for comment.

Greitens' hiring of Garber and Greim has come under scrutiny in recent weeks by Missouri's Democratic Auditor Nicole Galloway, Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley and Republican Rep. Jay Barnes. All discouraged the state from paying the attorneys.

Barnes sent Steelman a letter earlier this week arguing she shouldn't authorize payments to the attorneys because Greitens hired them for his own benefit and said the cost of their legal fees "should be borne exclusively by Eric Greitens himself."

Garber and Greim have said repeatedly they were representing the office of the governor, not Greitens individually.

Galloway had urged Steelman and Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt not to authorize the payments. In a letter, Galloway's office argued the Missouri Supreme Court had ruled Schmitt's office had the authority to refuse contract payments, but Schmitt's office argued the ruling did not give the treasurer blanket authority to do so.

Earlier this week, Greim said he and Garber were hired to protect the integrity of the office and called it "puzzling" that members of a House committee investigating Greitens relied on both attorneys as counsel during proceedings but later took issue with paying them.

Hawley said Greitens hired Garber and Greim illegally because the Attorney General's Office needs to approve outside counsel for the Governor's Office.

In her letter, Steelman said Greitens had the authority to hire Garber and Greim, but the governor himself -- not the office -- benefited from their legal services.

In a statement, Galloway said she was glad to see her concerns addressed.

"Taxpayer dollars should not be wasted by paying for Eric Greitens' private attorneys," Galloway said.

(c)2018 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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