A special prosecutor decided not to file criminal charges against the defense team for former governor Eric Greitens for allegedly threatening to ruin Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner’s career if she didn’t drop her case against Greitens in 2018.
Special Prosecutor Michael W. Bradley said that while Greitens’ attorneys’ statements were “aggressive,” they did not show intent “to harass, intimate or threaten the Circuit Attorney,” according to his report filed on November 7.
The case stemmed from statements made during two meetings between Gardner’s office and Greitens’ defense team in the spring of 2018 — after a grand jury indicted the governor based on allegations that he took a semi-nude picture of a woman without her consent and then transferred it in a way that it could be accessed by a computer, a felonious invasion of privacy.
In his report, Bradley said he considered requesting the assistance of the Missouri State Highway Patrol in his investigation, but ultimately decided that the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department performed “a thorough and unbiased investigation.” In addition to the police investigation, Bradley also conducted eight interviews of members from Gardners’ and Greitens’ law teams.
Bradley vaguely addressed the concern that the police department had close ties to Greitens’ defense team in this case. On July 17, James Martin was quoted in the St. Louis Post Dispatch saying, “The police officers investigating this matter have told us that no one, including two members of Mrs. Gardner’s staff have provided any evidence that there was a threat.” Although the police were supposed to be investigating Gardner’s complaint, Gardner had not even seen the police report at this point and had only received a heavily redacted incident report, sources in Gardner’s office told the American previously. She even went to the police department herself to get the report and was denied.
Yet Martin — one of the attorneys whom the police were supposed to be investigating — reportedly had quite a bit of information about their investigation into him and his colleagues.
Bradley stated that the lead investigating officer, Sgt. Carl Cunningham, denied making such a statement to Martin.
And although Bradley based the bulk of his report on the police’s investigation, he said that this issue of potential bias was “irrelevant” because he was the one ultimately making the decision.
Martin did not return the American’s request for comment on Bradley’s report.
Gardner’s attorney Roy Austin said that Bradley did not thoroughly investigate the case.
“His investigation was a complete waste of time, and a ‘whitewashing’ is a perfect way to describe it,” Austin said. “He had the tools, and he refused to use them.”
Austin said he urged Bradley to subpoena the email communications between Greitens’ defense team before the two meetings in March and April to better understand their intentions for the meetings. Bradley could have independently verified the accounts by doing this, rather than just taking their word, Austin said.
“The whole meeting in March was put together on a lark,” Austin said. “We gave Bradley the documents claiming that the meeting had something to do with a bunch of [Missouri Ethics Commission] matters. It had nothing to do with ethics matters. It was a meeting to make Kim aware that all these powerful people were going to come after in the event that she continued her investigation.”
The defense team requested to meet with Gardner’s team on March 16, 2018 because they wanted to discuss the “rumors in Jeff. City that your office is investigating matters that were looked into by the Missouri Ethics Commission,” according to an email sent from defense attorney Jack Garvey to Gardner the day of the meeting. The commission’s investigation was regarding Greitens and potential criminal campaign finance actions.
According to Bradley’s report, Gardner and two of her team members said that Garvey kept saying repeatedly that “things were going to get worse.” And all three of them interpreted it to mean that things would get worse for her politically and for her team members.
“They made it very clear that their intention was to dig into the conduct of each member of the team,” Assistant Circuit Attorney Rachel Smith told police in September 2018. “Clearly designed to, you know — it could all go away if the case went away.”
In Garvey’s statement to the police, he said that he “did not recall telling the circuit attorney that things are going to get worse.” In interviews with the defense team, including Ed Dowd and Jim Martin, they said that Garvey meant that the case was not going to get better, and that it was the kind of case that could ruin her career.
In his conclusion, Bradley states, “The defense team was vigorously attempting to persuade the Circuit Attorney to dismiss the case. Such aggressive behavior by the defense team, while being described as a ‘scorched earth, tactic, is not a criminal threat.”
Because Bradley didn’t attempt to verify any of the statements made in the interviews by subpoenaing documents, Austin argued that Bradley should have written a report that was fair to both sides, saying that he didn’t have sufficient evidence to make a finding. Instead, he made a judgement on the defense team’s intentions, Austin said. “Who is he to say what they intended to do or not?” Austin said.
Austin said that Bradley should never had been selected as special prosecutor because he had a conflict of interest in the case. Bradley had a long, close working relationship with former governor Jay Nixon, who is a partner at the Dowd Bennett law firm. Bradley is a former assistant attorney general who worked for Gov. Nixon from 1995 to 2009 when he served as attorney general. Nixon appointed Bradley to the bench in April 2011.
“If he were to say that he’s going to put charges on Dowd, he destroys Nixon’s firm,” Austin said. “He was never going to do that.”