Special prosecutor in Greitens case set to moderate GOP Senate debate

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A special prosecutor will decide whether to bring charges against a police officer in connection with former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens’ April ride with Kansas City police, which has been criticized for politicizing the department.

Special prosecutor Darrell Moore was appointed in late April by Platte County Presiding Judge Thomas Fincham days after the police department launched a criminal investigation into the incident. Kansas City police said Missouri law strictly prohibits political activity at work.

Moore is the director of the Missouri Attorneys Association. Moore previously served as Greene County Attorney and Missouri Assistant Attorney General.

Moore is expected to co-host a debate between Republican candidates from Missouri for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday night. He declared that his role presented no conflict of interest.

The ride was from the police department’s North Patrol Division located in Platte County.

Platte County District Attorney Eric Zahnd told The Star on Tuesday that he asked Fincham to appoint a special prosecutor, given his past support for the former governor. In 2016, Zahnd served as the statewide co-chair of Greitens’ gubernatorial campaign and also served on Greitens’ inaugural executive committee.

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“I supported Eric Greitens’ campaign for governor and was a member of his gubernatorial nomination committee. For that reason, I thought it best to hand over the matter to a special prosecutor to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest in the case,” Zahnd, a longtime Republican, said in a text message.

The investigation is narrow and will determine whether the KCPD employee, identified by court records as Capt. David Loar, violated state law involving political activity.

Moore is expected to moderate a debate between Republican candidates from Missouri for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday night in Springfield. He was chosen to moderate the debate about three months ago before the overlap happened.

“One of the questions won’t be about this issue,” Moore said of the ride.

However, it’s unclear if Greitens plans to take part. He did not attend past debates.

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Greitens’ campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“These two issues are totally separate,” Moore said. “There is no violation of any ethical rule. I have no personal relationship with the police officer involved or with Mr. Greitens.

“The role of a moderator is simply to be a neutral facilitator of questions,” he said.

Moore said he worked as a prosecutor for more than 28 years, which meant running for office and he could assess cases impartially. He said he had already filed criminal charges against police officers, although as a prosecutor he knows police officers.

The criminal investigation stems from Greitens’ April 22 ride with the KCPD’s Northern Patrol Division in Platte County. Greitens posted a video on social media during the ride which was later deleted at the request of police, who said official permission to film during the ride was not obtained in advance.

The video at one point showed an image of a KCPD vehicle. In a tweet, Greitens said, “Tonight I’m riding with @kcpolice,” according to screenshots posted online.

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Capt. Leslie Foreman, a police spokesman, said the department is completing the investigation and hopes to turn it over to the prosecutor’s office soon. The officer remains on paid suspension at this time, Foreman told the Star.

The department previously said the criminal investigation was related to political activity in which officers are prohibited from engaging.

Chapter 84 of the Missouri Statutes includes provisions relating to the Kansas City Police. Among these is a ban on officers or other employees of the department being connected with political work on behalf of candidates “while on duty or while wearing official department uniform.”

Greitens, who resigned as governor in 2018 amid sexual assault allegations, took over hours after the Fraternal Order of Police in Missouri endorsed Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. one of Greitens’ Republican opponents in the Senate race.

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