Missouri ethics nominees: No promises made to Greitens

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Gov. Eric Greitens’ two nominees to the Missouri Ethics Commission said they did not promise anything to anybody in exchange for their nominations.

The governor nominated former Democratic state representative Wayne Henke and Republican retired financial analyst Bill Birkes to the ethics commission Friday. Concern that their nominations came at a price stemmed from Greitens’ decision last year to stack the state Board of Education with people willing to fire the education commissioner.

The ethics commission is one member shy of a quorum and cannot act on any complaints, including one pending against Greitens. The governor’s campaign is accused of falsely reporting how it accessed a list of donors in 2015 from a charity Greitens co-founded, and of failing to disclose that it received the charity’s email list.

The complaint against the Republican governor was filed last month. If no action is taken, complaints automatically expire after 90 days.

The Senate, however, will likely not be able to confirm the nominees before the ethics commission’s next meeting on April 25.

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, a Republican from Joplin, chairs the committee that would first need to approve the nominees. He said background checks were ongoing, but he said his committee planned to hold both a hearing and vote on the nominees April 25, in the hopes that the full Senate could vote on them the next day.

Richard also spoke positively of both Henke and Birkes.

“I think both of them will be just fine,” he said.

Both nominees said they were looking forward to serving, if confirmed.

“I’m just happy to have the opportunity to serve my state, my home state, and hopefully I’ll be impartial and honest and fair,” Birkes said.

Some lawmakers have also expressed concern over the governor appointing people tasked with investigating him. GOP Sen. Bob Dixon of Springfield introduced legislation at the beginning of the month that would immediately drop the ethics commission’s membership from six to four, so that the three current members would automatically have a quorum.

The bill passed the Senate last week, and is currently before the House.

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