St. Louis circuit attorney faces ethics complaint related to probe of former governor

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St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is facing ethics charges stemming from her 2018 investigation of then-Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.

The March 3 ethics complaint, unsealed Tuesday, alleges Gardner failed to correct false statements by an investigator during the Greitens case, failed to correct false statements made to the court, failed to turn over possibly exculpatory material and falsely asserted in court that everything had been turned over to the defense.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has coverage.

Gardner’s probe had led to a February 2018 invasion-of-privacy charge against Greitens, who was accused of taking a partially nude photo of his mistress without her knowledge and consent. The charge was dropped in May 2018 after a judge ruled that Gardner could be called as a witness in the case against Greitens. The governor resigned the following month.

Greitens claimed that the investigator committed perjury when he said he didn’t take notes during an interview with the accuser. The judge said Gardner could be a witness because she was present during the interview. The investigator was charged with perjury based on his assertion about the notes and other statements made in a March 2018 deposition.

The ethics complaint alleges Gardner didn’t reveal that she, rather than her investigator, had created an initial list of bullet points concerning her interview with the accuser. Gardner also allegedly failed to timely disclose several documents, including the Jan. 28 email in which she sent the bullet points to the investigator, the investigator’s annotated version of Gardner’s bullet points, the investigator’s handwritten notes of an interview with the accuser’s friend, and the investigator’s draft interview narratives with the accuser and friend.

The ethics complaint also alleges that Gardner made false statements to disciplinary investigators.

Gardner’s lawyer, Michael Downey, had contended the ethics charges were “another attempt by Ms. Gardner’s political enemies—largely from outside St. Louis—to remove Ms. Gardner and thwart the systemic reforms she champions,” according to the Post-Dispatch.

Downey said Greitens’ defense team had shifted the focus from his conduct and overwhelmed Gardner’s office “by dissecting and scrutinizing its investigation process and production of investigative records.”

Gardner’s office said in a statement that she had complied with the law during the investigation, according to the Post-Dispatch. “Despite several investigations attempting to uncover illegal wrongdoing by her office in this case, none has ever been found,” the statement said. “We are confident that a full review of the facts will show that the Circuit Attorney has not violated the ethical standards of the state of Missouri.”

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