ST. LOUIS - The Missouri governor’s defense team suggests a political conspiracy is behind the privacy invasion case. They suspect a real-life “House of Cards,” driven by people who were awarded millions in tax dollars.
We’ve heard a lot about the four mysterious cash payments totaling $120,000, delivered to Al Watkins, the attorney behind the outing of the governor’s affair. The governor’s defense attorneys said in court that they intended to look for its connection to what`s called the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC).
Now, take a look at LIHTC and how Greitens was the first politician in decades who's tried to stop it.
Both political parties have criticized LIHTC for giving most of your tax dollars to lawyers and consultants. Two different Missouri auditors wrote critical reports on LIHTC for getting 42 percent of the money to the housing.
Examples of the most recent affordable housing developments are:
- Loretta Hall on Carr Street in North St. Louis
- Vandeventer Place in North St. Louis
- Eads Square near Lafayette Park
- Lemay Manor in South County
Fox 2 requested a budget breakdown from the state. It shows more than $685,000 went to lawyers and consultants.
“This has been going on for decades," said Jason Crowell, a Missouri Housing Development Commission board member, appointed by Governor Greitens to change it.
Crowell said he wants to “…get reforms so that every dollar that`s allocated for Sr. housing and low-income housing - actually goes to that.”
Crowell and reporter Chris Hayes stood in front of one of those projects in Cape Girardeau.
“Altogether, per apartment unit, (taxpayers paid) $376,000,” Crowell said.
That’s per apartment.
“And I’m telling you, as someone who’s volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, I could build almost four Habitat Humanity Homes in Cape for what we spent on one apartment unit.”
Crowell said other governors intended to crack down. He remembers Republican May Blunt trying and then Democrat Jay Nixon.
Did Crowell ever feel pressure to back down?
“Oh yeah, absolutely I received public threats,” Crowell said.
He said there is a financial incentive for politicians to keep LIHTC as it is.
“It’s all tied to campaign contributions,” Crowell said. “It’s all tied to their re-elections. What does every politician want Republican or Democrat? A second term.”
Too many politicians to count have received political contributions from PACS connected to LIHTC developers. The list includes St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner when she was a state representative and Representative Jay Barnes, who chaired the House investigation into Gov. Greitens.
The key may be Lt. Governor Mike Parson, because he would become governor in the event Greitens leaves office. He’s said he would keep the LIHTC tax credit.
According to the Missouri Ethics Commission, Parson’s campaign contribution records show donations exceeding a total of $10,000 from PACS connected to a LIHTC developer.
Parson’s office declined to comment. If he were to take the reigns as governor, he would have the power to immediately appoint new board members and shoot down the LIHTC reforms that began right around the time news of Greitens’ affair was being shopped to reporters.
Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's spokesperson said Gardner didn't recognize the name of the contributor to her campaign so it didn't influence her.
Representative Jay Barnes did not respond to Fox 2/KPLR 11’s requests for an interview.