St. Louis circuit attorney explains costs for lawyers to defend against special prosecutor

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ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner appeared at the city’s aldermanic budget committee hearing Wednesday to ask for another $540,000 to run her office.

She was there for two hours.

Two of the aldermen on the 11-member committee had some pointed questions for Gardner about the cost of the out-of-town law firms she hired to defend against a special prosecutor and grand jury. They’re looking into whether the investigator Gardner hired to investigate then Governor Eric Greitens lied.

Aldermen Joe Vaccaro and Tom Oldenburg wanted to know the cost of those lawyers. Gardner said she couldn’t answer because the case was still in litigation.

You Paid For It investigator Elliott Davis tried to question Gardner after she finished testifying. She declined to talk to Elliott, with her spokeswoman asking that the questions be put in writing.

Gardner did speak with other reporters.

Later, Gardner’s spokeswoman said they were forced to hire outside attorneys to defend themselves. You can read the full answers to those questions below.

How much will the outside law firms hired by Kim Gardner to defend against the special prosecutor cost taxpayers?

“These questions would be better directed to the court, city counselor’s office, or police department. They initiated this litigation when there were other less-expensive options available. The Circuit Attorney has appropriately hired representation to respond to outside litigation. Due to legal conflicts of attorneys locally, who have relationships with opposing counsel or Greitens counsel, we were forced to go outside of St. Louis. Hiring outside representation to deal with litigation is a practice that has been in place for decades by government agencies, without question.”

Why was there the big increase in contractual services and outside consultants in 2018 and 2019 over the amount paid in the years from 2000 to 2017?

“Ms. Gardner was the Circuit Attorney in 2017. In 2018 and 2019 there have been increased litigation regarding various matters in which the Circuit Attorney is holding people account such as officer-involved shootings, the exclusion list, and the Greitens matter. All of these expenditures have been paid for within the Circuit Attorney’s approved budget. These expenditures were approved by city officials. The Circuit Attorney returned $200,000 in 2018 to the city.”

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