Sunday, February 25, 2018

Q&A#1: What Will the House Investigative Committee Look Like?

Short answer: Small, smart and speedy.

 

Following the criminal indictment of Governor Eric Greitens, the House announced it would launch its own investigation. Here’s the talk – unconfirmed – on how it’ll shape up:

Speaker Todd Richardson will appoint the committee.  The expectation is that Rep. Jay Barnes will chair it.  Barnes was one of the first legislators to endorse Greitens at the beginning of his gubernatorial campaign.  But he’s considered fair by folks on both sides of the aisle.  And he’s fearless.

If based on the how the House operated when it impeached Secretary of State Judi Moriarty, we’ll be looking at a relatively small committee.  Probably five or six members total, with Richardson appointing three or four Republicans legislators and Democratic Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty appointing two members.

This committee could be appointed as early as this week.  It would hold its first meeting very quickly in order to establish its rules and procedure.

The speaker holds subpoena power.  So if this committee wished to subpoena witnesses, they would do so through the speaker.

There’s no reason to think that the House would limit its investigation to simply the actions of the governor in the basement.  It’s quite possible that other related matters would be of interest as well.  For example, laying to rest any question whether state resources were inappropriately used in the aftermath.

However one constraint on this committee will be time.  One assumes that Governor Greitens wouldn’t call a special session for the House to hold an impeachment vote.  And the three-fourths majority necessary for the House to call itself back into session is a very high bar.  As a result, this committee will have to act with some speed.  There are twelve weeks left in session.  That’s not much time for the investigation, much less when you factor the time required for the House to pass articles of impeachment and the Senate to appoint judges in the matter and hold an impeachment trial.

Buckle up, folks.