JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri attorney general can continue investigating Gov. Eric Greitens and a veterans’ charity he founded after a judge on Friday refused Greitens’ request to bar the probe by his fellow Republican officeholder.
Greitens’ lawyer had claimed Attorney General Josh Hawley had a conflict of interest while investigating Greitens’ political use of a charity donor list because Hawley had called for the governor to resign over separate allegations of sexual misconduct.
During a court hearing Thursday, Greitens’ lawyer also suggested Hawley had a disqualifying “personal interest” because he’s challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem denied Greitens’ request for a temporary restraining order barring the attorney general’s office from any investigation related to Greitens. Beetem dismissed the case.
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The judge said that rules about attorneys’ professional conduct can’t serve as the basis to initiate civil court cases. He said the rules apply only to criminal prosecutions and noted that the attorney general is not currently prosecuting any case against Greitens, much less in Cole County.
Hawley spokeswoman Mary Compton said the office was pleased with the judge’s ruling.
A spokesman for Greitens’ attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Greitens faces a May 14 trial in St. Louis on a felony invasion-of-privacy indictment for allegedly taking and transmitting a nonconsensual photo of an at least partially nude woman in 2015, before he was elected governor. Greitens has acknowledged having an affair but denied criminal wrongdoing.
A House investigatory committee released a report April 11 containing testimony from the woman alleging that Greitens had restrained, spanked, slapped, shoved and threatened her during a series of sexual encounters that at times caused her to be afraid and cry.
After that report, Hawley issued a statement saying Greitens should immediately resign.
Last week, Hawley announced that while investigating The Mission Continues he had developed evidence of potential criminal wrongdoing by Greitens. He shared that evidence with the St. Louis prosecutor’s office, which charged Greitens on April 20 with a felony of tampering with computer data for allegedly disclosing a list of top donors to The Mission Continues to his political campaign in 2015 without the permission of the St. Louis-based charity.