St. Louis prosecutor faces misconduct allegations related to Greitens investigation

·3 min read

Missouri’s chief disciplinary counsel has found probable cause that St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner committed professional misconduct during her 2018 prosecution of then-Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.

The March finding by Chief Disciplinary Counsel Alan Pratzel, the state official tasked with investigating complaints against attorneys for the Missouri Supreme Court, means a disciplinary case against Gardner will move forward.

It could result in a reprimand against Gardner or even the loss of her law license depending on the state Supreme Court ultimately rules. The case was unsealed Tuesday after Gardner’s lawyer had a chance to respond.

Gardner’s attorney Michael Downey said in his April 30 response that the misconduct allegations are “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 a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Gardner, an advocate for police reform and first Black woman to hold the role, won election to a second term as St. Louis’ prosecutor last year. A former Democratic state lawmaker, Gardner has repeatedly clashed with Republican policymakers in Jefferson City during her tenure as circuit attorney.

The disciplinary case involves Gardner’s handling of the 2018 investigation and prosecution of Greitens, the Republican governor who faced allegations that in 2015 he took a nude photograph of a woman without her consent in attempt to blackmail her into silence about an affair, coerced her into oral sex and struck her.

The alleged violations include that Gardner engaged in the “concealment and misrepresentations as to the source of evidence,” according a report from KMOV-TV.

Greitens was charged with felony invasion of privacy. But Gardner dropped the case a day before it was set to go to trial after Greitens’ attorneys accused Gardner and her lead investigator of concealing notes from an interview with Greitens’ alleged victim.

William Tisaby, the former FBI agent who Gardner hired to investigate Greitens, faces an ongoing perjury case after Greitens’ legal team filed a criminal complaint.

Gardner dropped the invasion of privacy case against Greitens in order to avoid testifying under oath about the allegations against Tisaby. Weeks later, she dropped an unrelated felony computer tampering case against Greitens as part of a deal that required Greitens to step down from office.

The disciplinary case against Gardner comes as Greitens attempts a political comeback with a campaign for Missouri’s open Senate seat in 2022.

Greitens heavily promoted news coverage about Gardner’s disciplinary case Wednesday afternoon.

The former governor has acknowledged having an extramarital affair, but he has repeatedly denied the claims of sexual blackmail and violence.

After Gardner dropped the invasion of privacy case in May of 2018, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker was appointed as a special prosecutor.

Baker found probable cause for a sexual assault charge against Greitens, but opted against filing new charges because insufficient evidence and the passage of time would have made it difficult to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.