UPDATED at 2:30 p.m. with statement from special prosecutor.ST. LOUIS — Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner on Thursday denied any wrongdoing in her prosecution of former Gov. Eric Greitens, her first public statements since a special grand jury indicted a former FBI agent she hired to investigate the ex-governor.
“I steadfastly maintain that I did not do anything unethical or illegal,” Gardner said at a news conference Thursday at the Carnahan Courthouse. “I’m going to say it time and time again, I know you guys are not going to report it. We’re going to hold people accountable even when it’s not popular to, I guess, the media.”
Her office pursued the Greitens prosecution “like any other case, and I’m going to stand on, ‘We did nothing wrong,’” she said.
Gardner said controversy over a special prosecutor’s investigation of the man she hired in the Greitens case “has the potential to further erode the trust in the criminal justice system, especially in communities where such faith is already weak.”
“Now, we have to stop spending our time and limited resources looking at one case as if this is the only measure of competence and success,” she said.
Last month, the special grand jury indicted William Don Tisaby, whom Gardner hired to investigate Greitens in the run-up to his trial date last year. Gardner dropped the cases against Greitens in May 2018, and Greitens resigned in exchange for the dismissal of one of those cases.
The indictment of Tisaby on charges of perjury and evidence tampering cast a shadow on Gardner’s office by lobbing a series of allegations against her: that she failed to correct Tisaby’s lies, failed to report them to police, and made incorrect statements to defense lawyers and a judge.
Sources told the Post-Dispatch this week that a new grand jury may be empaneled to continue investigating Gardner’s office. A new jury likely would be tasked with reviewing thousands of Circuit Attorney’s Office emails seized by police in late April, which could reveal more about how Gardner handled the Greitens case.
Tisaby’s indictment came after a monthslong investigation led by Gerard “Jerry” Carmody into allegations that Tisaby had lied during a March 2018 deposition before Greitens’ criminal trial date. Tisaby’s lawyer has staunchly denied the charges.
In a prepared statement Thursday, Carmody said the term of the grand jury that indicted Tisaby had expired “prior to the conclusion of the investigation” and that it could not be extended by law.
“Notwithstanding the expiration of that grand jury’s term, the investigation into possible criminal activity will continue,” Carmody said. He declined further comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Gardner, at her news conference, would not take questions about the Tisaby case because it’s pending. She sidestepped a question about whether she’s concerned about the ongoing investigation into her office.
“This is an example of an unfair system that uses the laws to attack, to point out, to misrepresent, to put a cloud over the hard-working men and women who are in this office who do their job every day and will continue to do their job every day,” she said. “... and they want to make it about Kim Gardner.”
Gardner is also facing an ethical complaint filed by Greitens’ lawyers with the agency that investigates and disciplines lawyers.
At the news conference, Gardner was surrounded by political, clerical and community supporters who believe she is the victim of a political, racist and sexist attack. They praised Gardner on Thursday, saying she is pursuing a reform agenda to make the criminal justice system fairer to minorities.
She concluded her news conference by praying with her supporters.
Gardner has hired about a half-dozen lawyers at taxpayer expense to defend her and the Circuit Attorney’s Office in the Tisaby investigation, but it is unclear how much the case is costing. The St. Louis Circuit Court, meanwhile, has set aside about $250,000 toward the special prosecutor’s probe. Gardner’s office spent more than $115,000 to prosecute the governor.