Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) may have withheld data from researchers showing the effectiveness of government-mandated military gear for communities, even though he promised not to, according to reports from investigative journalist Mother Jones and the Columbia Daily Tribune.
The various members of the Missouri National Guard “began adjusting their helmet filters and talking about testing the current sets” in 2016, the Trib reported. “Missouri Guard spokeswoman Sergeant Major Mary Davis told the Columbia newspaper that such discussion is not uncommon in the guard. ‘The state of Missouri has a zero tolerance for fraud, waste, abuse and all kinds of unethical behaviour in the Missouri National Guard, including this kind of thing.’”
While the Department of Defense prohibits purchases of military gear to low-level police forces, “It does not prohibit purchases of certain military equipment by police departments,” according to an FBI spokesperson.
“The National Guard didn’t want the data. They didn’t want to give the data. They wanted to protect the information,” The Columbia Daily Tribune’s Beth Curtsinger said on CNN. “In Missouri, these police departments in some ways have that same right.”
On Monday, Greitens released the following statement:
“Earlier this year, I proposed a bill to ban giveaways of our military equipment to local law enforcement agencies without an explicit state law already on the books that already protects the data,” the statement read. “Unfortunately, state Rep. Gail McCann Beatty’s legislation to do just that was drafted and presented as a completely new bill and never even read. Once news reporters began investigating the legislation, Rep. McCann Beatty decided to withdraw it. The initial version she wrote would have impeded efforts like the Missouri National Guard’s Public Works [and] Contracts Division from properly administering our existing state military contracts.”