New Missouri governor meets with state, local leaders

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — As new Missouri Gov. Mike Parson launches his tenure in the governor’s office with meetings with state and local leaders, former Gov. Eric Greitens is still ensnared in court battles related to allegations of personal and political misconduct.

Parson, a Republican, was talking with Republican legislative leaders and some of the state’s mayors in separate meetings on Tuesday, days after the lieutenant governor was elevated to higher office when Greitens, also a Republican, resigned while facing possible impeachment.

Parson appears to be setting himself apart from Greitens in terms of his ability to forge relationships to get things done. Greitens, a former Navy SEAL who was elected in 2016 as a political outsider, had long clashed with the Legislature, even though it was led by members of his own party. Parson, a former state lawmaker, was elected separately from Greitens.

Republican House Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr, as he was walking to a meeting with Parson on Tuesday, said he expects the new governor will be involved with the Legislature “on a day-to-day basis.”

Parson later met with a bipartisan group of mayors and said the goal was “building bridges.” He’s already built a relationship with Kansas City Mayor Sly James, a Democrat who said the two worked together when Parson was a lawmaker.

“I found him to be a reasonable individual, a smart guy, a guy who was willing to listen and a guy who was willing to state his position,” James told reporters gathered outside Parson’s capitol office.

Although Greitens’ resignation was part of a deal with St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner to drop a felony charge alleging misuse of a charity donor list to raise money for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign, legal wrangling hasn’t ended.

The Missouri attorney general’s office determined Tuesday that an unredacted version of the dismissal agreement on the computer data tampering charge is an open record under the state’s open records law. The ruling was in response to a letter Gardner sent Monday, asking whether her office could release the agreement without redactions.

The “stipulation for dismissal” agreement that a judge approved on May 29 includes seven provisions, two of which are redacted.

It’s unclear if or when the full version of the agreement will be released. Messages seeking comment from Gardner’s office and from Greitens’ attorneys were not immediately returned. But Gardner said in her letter to Hawley that she intended to release the unredacted agreement “unless a court orders otherwise.”

Greitens has denied any criminal wrongdoing.

He also had faced allegations that he took a nonconsensual, partially nude photo of a woman with whom he had an extramarital affair in 2015 and threatened to release it if she spoke about their relationship. Gardner’s office had dismissed a felony invasion-of-privacy charge just before Greitens’ trial was set to begin this month, and a special prosecutor is deciding whether to refile it.

Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has not said when she’ll decide. The statute of limitations expires in about two weeks.

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