1/12-News from the MissouriNet

Missouri Governor Greitens to unveil “the boldest state tax reform in America”; Democrats critical

A veteran GOP Missouri lawmaker supports Governor Eric Greitens’ call to cut taxes.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (center) at the January 10, 2018 State of the State Address. House Speaker Todd Richardson (left) and Lt. Governor Mike Parson (right) join him (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

State Rep. Craig Redmon, R-Canton, says tax cuts stimulate economic growth.

“I ran on a platform when I first ran for the House (in 2010) that you improve your economy and everything is going to spiral upward,” Redmon says. “You’re going to have money for roads, money for education, money for health care.”

Governor Greitens called on lawmakers this week “to cut taxes for the people of Missouri, and to cut taxes for businesses that create jobs.”

During Wednesday night’s State of the State Address, Greitens told lawmakers he will outline “the boldest state tax reform in America” early next week.

State Rep. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, tells Missourinet he didn’t like the tax message he heard at the State of the State.

“And you know I think all Democrats would support a tax cut for middle-class families, for those families that are going to take that extra money and go out and put it back in the economy,” says Razer. “We can’t be going down the Kansas road and continuing with tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest among us.”

The governor says his plan will cut taxes “on the hardest-working families in our state.”

Meantime, a mid-Missouri lawmaker plans to amend his disability legislation to focus entirely on children.

State Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, has filed a bill aimed at providing more insurance coverage for those with disabilities.

“But I think that’s a very important thing we need to try and do is get the therapy coverage that these young people are lacking there. It’s just not adequate and so I hope to get some traction on that this session,” Basye says.

Bayse’s legislation is aimed at enhancing existing insurance coverage for those with developmental disabilities outside of the autism spectrum.

Boone County Family Resources says there are about 64,000 Missouri children under the age of 18, with a disability.






GOP Senator says if allegations against Greitens are true, the governor should resign or face impeachment

State Senator Gary Romine, R-Farmington, wants Governor Eric Greitens to resign or he will ask the legislature to begin impeachment proceedings if the allegations against the governor are true. KMOV-TV of St. Louis reports the Republican political newcomer had an affair in 2015, allegedly tied his mistress up, and threatened to frame her with nude photos if she did not keep quiet about their relationship.

Senator Gary Romine, R-Farmington

“People are upset with what they’ve seen across the nation in the movie industry, in the political industry, on tv with the anchors who have lost their jobs,” says Romine. “This is an issue that has just come to a head in an ugly and I’m very disappointed we are dealing with this in Missouri.”

The governor’s personal attorney, Jim Bennett, did not immediately return a request for comment. The governor has acknowledged to KMOV-TV that he had an affair but denies the other allegations.

Attorney General Josh Hawley cites jurisdictional reasons for declining a request from Romine and other Senators to investigate the accusations. The move has prompted St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner to launch a criminal investigation against Greitens.

“Our efforts and our desires are to validate the allegations and determine whether or not they are true so we can go forward with conducting business of the state,” says Romine. “As long as this is hanging out there, it’s going to be a cloud over us.”

Romine believes the governor’s “subdued performance” in Greitens’ State of the State address on Wednesday was because of the looming allegations, which Romine says created an awkward atmosphere.






Missouri Senator wants investigation into sexual allegations against Greitens

Senator Doug Libla (R-Poplar Bluff)

State Senator Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, is urging fellow Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley to investigate the allegations against the governor. Libla is circulating a letter among his colleagues after a report on Wednesday by KMOV-TV in St. Louis that Republican Governor Eric Greitens had an affair with his hairdresser in 2015, allegedly tied her up, blindfolded her and threatened to blackmail her if she revealed the affair to anyone.

“These are very disturbing allegations and I want to repeat these are allegations. I’m not taking one side or the other. I just feel like we need to have an investigation done on it and move forward,” says Libla. “These alleged actions have cast another dark shadow over the Missouri State Capitol. Therefore, we believe this investigation must be thorough and completed in an expedited manner so that this will not overpower this legislative session.”

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, is going a step further and calling for Greitens to resign.

Senator Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis)

“Some of you say those are only allegations, but I don’t know any woman who would just go to her husband and lie about having an affair with another man and how it happened. I think it’s appalling that this chamber is so quiet on that issue,” says Nasheed. “We’re dealing with a situation where about a woman claimed that she had been tied up in the basement. To me, that’s imprisonment. That’s false imprisonment. And then for us to not say anything, for this chamber to be so quiet on that issue and for individuals not to be walking back there and signing that letter, says a lot about us here in this chamber.

She says every woman in the General Assembly should “rise up and do the right thing.”

“This is not just happening in this state. It’s happening throughout the country. Powerful men are taking advantage of the most vulnerable women throughout this country. It should not be tolerated. We should be outraged,” says Nasheed. “For individuals being silent on this issue, it makes me want to cry. They had a relationship, but no individual should be tied up against their own will and threatened by way of blackmail ‘If you tell anyone this, I’ll put pictures out.’ Why would she lie about that? And she’s telling her husband. He (Greitens) is a homewrecker.”

According to KMOV, Greitens has admitted to having an affair but has not confessed to the other allegations.






Reaction to blackmail allegations against Missouri governor swift

The reaction to allegations that Governor Eric Greitens blackmailed a woman he admitted to having an extra marital affair with has been swift.

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens delivering his State of the State address Wednesday night

The governor acknowledged the relationship on Facebook Wednesday night, but his attorney James Bennett, denied the accusations in the same post.

Greitens is alleged to have snapped a photo of the woman he had the intimate relationship with while she was naked and blind folded, and then threatened to distribute it if she talked about their activity.  A St. Louis TV station ran a story Wednesday night that featured the unnamed woman describing her relationship with Greitens to her ex-husband, who was recording the conversation.

Democratic State Senator Jamilah Nasheed of St. Louis called for Greitens to resign on the chamber’s floor Thursday, while Republican Senator Doug Libla of Poplar Bluff called for an investigation into the allegations.

Democratic Senate Leaders Gina Walsh of Bellefontaine Neighbors and Kiki Curls of Kansas City issued the following statement calling for an inquiry into the matter.

“Allegations of extortion, coercion, or threats of violence must be investigated by the proper authorities,” the Senators said.  “People accused of these egregious acts do not get to waive off the scrutiny of law enforcement simply because they are in a position of power; and victims of these crimes deserve our full support.”

In the Wednesday night Facebook post, Sheena Greitens, the Governor’s wife, seemed to call for scrutiny of the blackmail accusations to be dropped.

“We have a loving marriage and an awesome family; anything beyond that is between us and God,” said Sheena Greitens.  “I want the media and those who wish to peddle gossip to stay away from me and my children.”

Missouri House leadership, including Speaker Todd Richardson, Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr, and Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo released a statement Thursday morning, saying

“While the details of the story continue to emerge, the allegations made against the governor last night are deeply concerning. The governor must be forthright and accountable for his actions.”

Nita Chaudhary of the national women’s advocacy group, UltraViolet, also issued a statement Thursday.

“Sexual exploitation and blackmail are crimes—plain and simple—and are unacceptable in any sphere of society, especially from our elected officials,” Chaudhary said.  “The people of Missouri deserve better from their Governor. Eric Greitens should resign immediately.”

Republican State Senator Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph, who vigorously sparred with Governor Greitens in the last legislative session, offered a single phrase to describe the Governor predicament Wednesday night, “Stick a fork in him.”






Missouri high court judges challenge attorneys seeking freedom for convicted murderer

The Missouri Supreme Court in Jefferson City has heard arguments over which lower court should hear the case of a convicted double-murderer who’s seeking to clear himself.

Ricky Kidd is part of the Missouri Department of Corrections Puppies for Parole Program (Image courtesy of Missouri Innocence Project)

Ricky Kidd has the support of numerous advocates, including a former prosecutor and a former Kansas City Police Commissioner who believe he’s innocent.

Kidd’s lawyers are seeking to have the Jackson County Circuit bench consider his habeas corpus petition to be released.  Attorney Sean O’Brien admits the high court judges were skeptical of his argument that the case should heard in the same Jackson County court where Kidd was granted DNA testing.

“DNA statutes are a brand-new thing, jurisprudentially,” said O’Brien.  “They’ve been around in many jurisdictions less than 10 years.  And they have the potential to spread litigation around and make people go to different counties to try lawsuits.  And the law doesn’t like that.”

By law, DNA testing can only be permitted through the court where the original case was heard, which for Ricky Kidd, was the Jackson County Circuit Court in Kansas City.

Those tests found insufficient DNA to provide results, but Circuit Judge Sandra C. Judge Midkiff determined that if there had been enough DNA to draw conclusions, it would have provided evidence that others, not Kidd, had committed the murders.

Shortly after he was transferred to Jackson County for his hearing before Judge Midkiff in 2016, O’Brien and Kidd’s two other attorneys filed the habeas corpus petition to ask for his release.

Midkiff granted that hearing last July, but the proceedings were stayed by the Supreme Court after Attorney General Josh Hawley filed a motion to temporarily block them.

Hawley argued that because Kidd is not incarcerated in Midkiff’s jurisdiction, she is not empowered to hear the case.  In court documents filed for the Supreme Court, the attorney general’s office contended Kidd’s argument can only be heard in the county where he’s in custody.

They claim that the Dekalb County Circuit Court must consider Ricky Kidd’s habeas corpus petition for release, because he’s in custody at the state corrections facility there, Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron.

Assistant state Attorney General John Sauer further stated before the high court judges Wednesday that the warden at the corrections center is the custodian who has responsibility of Kidd.

“The plain and ordinary meaning of the word custody is what governs here,” said Sauer.  “It’s a legal authority and responsibility of the warden.  Even though he got to move for a few days to Jackson County, he is still in custody in Dekalb County.  The habeas petition had to be addressed in the first instance to a judge in Dekalb County.”

As of last Wednesday, Department of Corrections spokesperson Karen Pojmann confirmed for Missourinet that Kidd was actually being held at the Kansas City Detention Center awaiting a civil case, but stipulated his “assigned housing” is at Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron.

Kidd was convicted in 1996 of a double murder that witnesses said involved three men.  He became the lead suspect from an anonymous tip that his attorneys suspect came from one of the actual killers.

Kidd claims he and the mother of his child were at a Jackson County Sheriff’s Office at the time of the murders, filling out an application for a gun permit.  The security video tape of the transaction had been recorded over by the time his trial attorney tried to retrieve it.

He and his co-defendant, Marcus Merrill, were convicted together even though a third person was never located.

After his appeals were exhausted, Kidd’s case moved to a federal district court.

It was there that Merrill testified that it was he and a father and son, Gary Goodspeed, Sr., and Gary Goodspeed, Jr., who had committed the crime.  Evidence collected by investigators since the original trial that corroborated Merrill’s testimony was also presented.

But since the federal court’s legal standard states that evidence cannot be “new” if it was able to be discovered at the time of original trial, Kidd was denied a new court case or release from prison.

One eye witness at the original trial, Richard Harris, has also recanted his testimony that he saw Kidd commit the murder while walking nearby the incident.  Kidd’s attorneys contend Harris originally testified against him under threat of the Goodspeeds.

Kidd is being represented at present by three attorneys who are working through the Midwest Innocence Center.  Before the Supreme Court, they’ll be defending Judge Midkiff’s decision to hear his argument for release.

Some high-ranking law enforcement personnel have lobbied for Kidd’s release after examining the circumstances of his conviction.  In December 2016, former Kansas City Police Commissioner Alvin Brooks sent a letter to then Governor Jay Nixon, asking him to pardon Kidd.  Nixon declined.

At least one state lawmaker has been critical of efforts by Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office to block Kidd’s petition for release in Jackson County.

Democratic Representative Brandon Ellington of Kansas City is suspect of Hawley’s motives, given the parties who now think he was wrongly convicted.

O’Brien, Kidd’s lead attorney before the Supreme Court, told Missourinet Wednesday that he’ll continue to seek Kidd’s release from prison, regardless of the high bench outcome.  “Nothing here is going to stop Ricky from moving forward,” O’Brien said.  “Whatever the ruling is, we will still be moving forward.”

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision in Ricky Kidd’s case in the upcoming weeks.