Special legislative committee investigating Greitens continues closed meetings

Special legislative committee investigating Greitens continues closed meetings

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The seven members of the special legislative committee investigating allegations of blackmail against Gov. Eric Greitens had its third closed meeting at the Jefferson City Police Department Friday.

ABC 17 News has reported that it is legal and within Sunshine Law regulations to close the meetings to the public but political experts said it's tough to say whether the continued secrecy is necessary.

On Friday, the ex-husband of the governor's former mistress testified for the committee but the committee could still have others on the list that have requested privacy.

"Some people are going to say because the hearing is closed, how can we trust the committee but at the same time, they have their reasons for keeping it private," said political science professor Terry Smith. "I think that you’ve got the philosophical issue about the right to know versus the need to know. Who needs to know what is happening in this hearing, and the group that needs to know are the representatives that are making the decision."

But Smith said that with all the speculation going on, it could be in the committee's best interest to be more transparent. 

I think that openness is the best disinfectant," he said. "If this hearing were, in fact, open to the media, then the rumors, the speculation - which are not helpful to anybody - could be dispelled simply because everything is transparent and public."

The latest poll numbers have the governor's approval rating hovering between 34 and 50 percent. Missourians also report being split on whether they think he should resign.

"I think they’re basically saying 'let’s wait and see how the legal process plays out,'" said Smith. "If he’s exonerated, his approval rating will go up and if not, then he’ll probably leave office one way or the other."

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