With two weeks to go before Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is scheduled to go to trial on felony invasion of privacy, his attorneys are asking a judge to prohibit testimony from the pivotal witness — the woman involved in an affair with him.
Greitens is accused of taking a nonconsensual photo of the woman while she was at least partially nude in 2015, before he was elected. His trial begins May 14 in St. Louis.
Defense attorneys want the woman banned from testifying because of the "gross misconduct" of a private investigator who interviewed her for prosecutors. Defense lawyers in a Friday court filing also noted that the investigator, William Tisaby, refused to answer questions when he was deposed last week. Judge Rex Burlison didn't rule Monday. He set a hearing for May 7.
Greitens lawyers have accused Tisaby of lying in court and being slow to turn over evidence to the defense. The St. Louis circuit attorney's office acknowledges missteps by Tisaby but says his actions haven't tainted the case.
The woman's testimony is crucial, especially since there is no indication prosecutors have the photo Greitens allegedly took. Spokeswoman Susan Ryan declined to discuss evidence, but Greitens' attorneys have repeatedly stated in court that there is no photo.
Greitens, a Republican, has faced increased calls for his resignation since a special House committee released a report this month that included testimony from the woman that Greitens spanked, slapped and shoved her during a series of sexual encounters that at times left her crying and afraid. He also faces a second unrelated felony charge of computer data tampering for his use of a donor list from a veterans charity he founded for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign.
Now Republican Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is reviewing Greitens' social media use following questions about his compliance with the state's open records law.
An earlier review by Hawley's office concluded Greitens did not have to provide records related to his personal Twitter and Facebook accounts, such as private messages and names of blocked users. Spokeswoman Mary Compton said in a statement Monday that the inquiry was reopened based on "new information."
The move comes after The Kansas City Star asked Hawley's office about emails that appear to show a state employee, Greitens spokesman Parker Briden, helped write a Facebook post for the governor before the governor's office created official social media accounts. The post involved funding for a soccer stadium in St. Louis.
"If a state employee was in fact operating campaign social media accounts, the Sunshine Law may well apply to some or all of the records associated with that account," Compton said.
The emails were first reported by St. Louis Public Radio last year, and The Star asked the attorney general's office about them last week.
Briden said the issue is "settled." He said personal accounts "are not state action, the personal accounts are not public forums, and there is no basis for the state to regulate that activity or require it to be subject to the Sunshine Law or records retention laws."