Missouri Ethics Commission Fines Ex-Governor $178,000 for Campaign Finance Violations

February 14, 2020by Jack Suntrup and Kurt Erickson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (TNS)
Former Gov. Eric Greitens delivers the keynote address at the St. Louis Area Police Chiefs Association 27th Annual Police Officer Memorial Prayer Breakfast on April 25, 2018, at the St. Charles Convention Center. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — State ethics regulators have fined the campaign of former Gov. Eric Greitens $178,000 over campaign finance violations dating to his upstart, outsider bid to become Missouri’s chief executive.

The Missouri Ethics Commission released its long-awaited probe of Greitens’ campaign apparatus Thursday. The commission found reasonable grounds to believe the Greitens campaign committed two violations of Missouri law, but dismissed other allegations.

The MEC said the fine was linked to two dark money groups that were raising and spending money to further Greitens’ political career.

“The MEC investigation did not find that Eric Greitens had personal knowledge” of the violations, the report noted, “however, candidates are ultimately responsible for all reporting requirements.”

A consent order says Greitens can pay $38,000 of the fine and be done with the case as long as no more violations occur, and said the ethics commission “found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Eric Greitens, individually.”

Despite the fine, Greitens’ legal team declared victory.

“Eric Greitens is and always has been innocent of these false accusations. Our contention from the beginning was that the accusations against Mr. Greitens were baseless,” said Catherine Hanaway, who ran against Greitens in the GOP primary for governor in 2016.

Greitens said in a statement that he is “grateful that the truth has won out.”

In July 2018, then-Rep. Jay Barnes, a Jefferson City Republican who had led a Missouri House investigation into Greitens, filed a complaint with the ethics commission.

More than 18 months later, on Thursday, the ethics commission issued an order that said Greitens’ campaign should have reported as an in-kind contribution polling data it received from A New Missouri, the dark-money group Greitens aides formed in 2017 to boost the governor’s brand.

The ethics commission also said Greitens should have reported spending by LG PAC in 2016 as an in-kind contribution.

The ethics commission did not investigate whether Greitens illegally ran an off-the-books campaign in 2014 and 2015 because the two-year statute of limitations on the alleged offense had expired, the commission said.

The commission dismissed other allegations lodged against the ex-governor’s campaign after reviewing “235 pages of supporting documentation; the issuance of 23 subpoenas, which resulted in the production of roughly 8,000 multipage documents, emails, and videos; approximately 20 interviews conducted by commission investigators.”

Barnes filed the ethics complaint after Greitens, a Republican, resigned on June 1, 2018, after months of scandal, much of it unrelated to the allegations contained in Barnes’ complaint.

In May 2018, as political and legal pressure continued to build against the embattled governor, the House investigative committee emerged from behind closed doors to hold a series of public hearings in which members took testimony about Greitens’ activities.

Greitens announced his resignation on May 29, 2018, the same day a Cole County judge ordered A New Missouri to release financial information to the House investigative committee.

Soon after Greitens’ resignation announcement, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner, a Democrat, announced she was dropping a felony computer tampering case against Greitens that involved Greitens’ alleged use of a charity donor list for political fundraising purposes.

The charges followed a referral from then-Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican, who launched an investigation into the donor list after the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Greitens’ campaign had received the list from a former employee of the charity Greitens founded, the Mission Continues.

The House essentially stopped digging after Greitens’ resignation, but Barnes published a scorching letter in late June calling A New Missouri a “criminal enterprise.” He leveled a series of other allegations, even accusing Greitens of possible literary fraud related to the book Greitens published in 2015.

Barnes declined to comment Thursday.

Greitens, who now works for the U.S. Navy, reported having $637,977 in his still-active campaign account. He can use that money to pay the fine.

In its report, the MEC noted that Greitens has spent more than $500,000 on legal fees related to the case since the complaint was filed.

———

©2020 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Visit the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at www.stltoday.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

State News

Virginia Modifies Guidance for K-12 Reopenings Amid Pandemic
State News
Virginia Modifies Guidance for K-12 Reopenings Amid Pandemic
January 20, 2021
by Sara Wilkerson

Recently, Virginia officials released an updated revision of the state’s interim guidelines for reopening K-12 schools in a letter sent to Virginia educators and public health officials. The move comes one day after the Centers for Disease Control published a new study indicating that K-12 schools... Read More

Phase 1B: Interest Groups Appeal to States for Access to Coronavirus Vaccine
State News
Phase 1B: Interest Groups Appeal to States for Access to Coronavirus Vaccine
January 19, 2021
by Reece Nations

Interest groups are pleading their cases to state officials in a bid to expedite their constituents’ access to the novel coronavirus vaccine.  Individuals over the age of 70, frontline health care workers, nursing home residents and staff are the first groups of people to receive the... Read More

Wisconsin Reps. Urge Federal Leadership to Ensure Rural Communities Aren’t Left Behind
State News
Wisconsin Reps. Urge Federal Leadership to Ensure Rural Communities Aren’t Left Behind
January 15, 2021
by Sean Trambley

WASHINGTON — This week, U.S. Reps. Ron Kind, D-Wis., and Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., sent a bipartisan letter to Operation Warp Speed leadership urging them to consider the unique challenges of vaccine distribution to rural areas across Wisconsin and take steps to support timely and equitable vaccine... Read More

U.S. Space Command Gets New Headquarters in Alabama
Military
U.S. Space Command Gets New Headquarters in Alabama
January 15, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- The Secretary of the Air Force announced Wednesday that Huntsville, Ala., will be the new headquarters of the U.S. Space Command. The announcement was welcomed in Alabama but criticized as an example of partisan politics by government officials in Colorado, where the Space Command... Read More

Telecommute Taxation: States Take Sides Over Out-of-State Income Tax Dispute
State News
Telecommute Taxation: States Take Sides Over Out-of-State Income Tax Dispute
January 13, 2021
by Reece Nations

CONCORD, N.H. — A collection of 14 states have now signed amicus briefs backing New Hampshire in the state’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether jurisdictions may tax the income of remote workers who cannot commute to their workplaces.  In October, New Hampshire... Read More

Gov. Little Announces Idaho’s Fiscal 2022 State Budget, Prioritizes Tax Relief and More
State News
Gov. Little Announces Idaho’s Fiscal 2022 State Budget, Prioritizes Tax Relief and More
January 13, 2021
by Sara Wilkerson

Earlier this week, Idaho Governor Brad Little announced his “Building Idaho’s Future” plan, a comprehensive proposal that will impact the state’s budget into 2022. The plan features more than $450 million in tax relief and strategic investments in critical infrastructure projects such as education, transportation, public... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top