Lawmakers weigh in on closed Greitens committee

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri House committee investigating Governor Eric Greitens met Monday at 1 p.m. behind closed doors again at Jefferson City Police Department.

Lawmakers on both sides weighed in on the current decision to keep meetings closed for the time being.

“I completely understand and respect the decision of the committee to keep the testimonies private, especially to protect the innocent victims who are associated with the alleged criminal activity,” said Rep. Kip Kendrick, a Boone County democrat.  

Kendrick said while he understand the decision, there is room for more transparency.

“I think there are parts of it that could be open and should be open to the public. That doesn’t mean all of it,” Kendrick said. “There are definitely parts that need to be closed, but I don’t necessarily think that the entire committee should be shut off from public access.”

Sen. Rob Schaaf, a St. Joseph republican, said all meeting should be public.

“I think that the investigative committee should hold its meetings in the open so that the people of Missouri can listen to the questions and know that they right questions were asked and that nothing was hidden, that way they’ll have confidence in the system,” Schaaf said.

Kendrick said letting the public in on the committee’s plan could help gain favor with Missourians.

“I think that opening up parts of it and allowing the public to be at least informed of the process and what’s happening can add legitimacy to the process,” Kendrick said.

Kendrick said there is also a duty to keep certain elements private.  

“The worst thing that we could do as a House is interfere with a criminal investigation and undermine it in any capacity,” Kendrick said. “There is the obvious need of testimony of witnesses who are also cooperating in the ongoing investigation are kept private and confidential, and to make sure that we don’t do anything to mess up the criminal investigation.”  

Schaaf said there is a tension between protecting witnesses and allowing the public in. He said he leans towards the public’s peace of mind.  

“People need to know that the process is fair, complete and just,” Schaaf said. “The only way they can really know that is to witness it themselves.”

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