A bi-partisan group of state Senators wants Governor Eric Greitens investigated for corruption. The six lawmakers – four Republicans and two Democrats – point to an ethics violation by the GOP governor’s campaign, as well questionable activity by his political action committee.
A resolution filed yesterday by one of the Senators, Democrat Jason Holsman of Kansas City, seeks a committee to investigative wrongdoing by Greitens in several areas.
The group is interested in finding out how Greitens campaign got a hold of a list of donors to a charity he founded called The Mission Continues. Federal law prohibits charities listed as 501(c)(3)’s from being involved in political activity.
The Mission Continues is not legally allowed to give the Greitens campaign its donor list, but would be allowed to rent it out at fair market value if all candidates got access.
After the Missouri Democratic Party filed a complaint over the charity list not being reported, the state Ethics Commission determined the campaign had committed a violation.
The campaign (Greitens for Missouri) filed an amended financial report in late April, giving a $600 value to the donor list as an in-kind contribution received in April 2015.
The campaign signed an order acknowledging the infraction and was fined $1,000 by the Ethics Commission. The fee was reduced to $100 with the understanding the full amount would be due if there was another violation within two years.
But it’s still not known who gave the charity list to the campaign.
Republican Ryan Silvey of Kansas City is one of the six Senators asking for the investigation. He contends there’s a problem because the charity says it didn’t give the list to his campaign.
“So, if they didn’t give the list, then a crime was committed possibly” said Silvey. “Somebody stole the list from them or embezzled the list from them. The public needs to know.”
Silvey thinks Greitens campaign manager at the time, Danny Laub, has a lot to answer for. But he says Greitens himself could be implicated because he asked people who’d already given to his charity for additional money to finance his campaign.
“So, he’s calling the same people, for now a political purpose, off of a list that the non-profit says they didn’t give him. So, the question is ‘How much did the governor know and when did he know it?’”
Missouri Republican Party Chairman Todd Graves, a former federal prosecutor, calls the claims by the Senators baseless, and says “to re-cast a technical campaign issue that has already been resolved—and for a $100 fine, no less—as “unethical” or “illegal” is laughable”.
In addition to Silvey, the five other Senators sponsoring the legislation are Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, Scott Sifton, D-Affton, Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph and Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff.
Most of them have been targeted by Greitens during his first year in office. His political action committee, A New Missouri, spent money on ads accusing Schaaf of “siding with liberals in the Senate against conservatives”. For a time, the ads included the Senator’s phone number.
In addition, Greitens accused Schaaf of trying to block legislation favored by Greitens, such as Blue Alert and ethics laws. Schaaf has actually been a strong advocate for reining in campaign donations and lobbyist gifts.
Greitens has also accused at least four of the other Senators pushing for the investigation of trying to block bills he’s favored, and has called them career politicians.
The six Senators want A New Missouri investigated as well, having accused it of numerous improprieties. For one, they claim it coordinated activities with Greitens’ campaign and the governor’s office, which they say, at best, circumvents current ethics law.
They also say A New Missouri improperly accepted a $50,000 donation for the Osage Nation tribe, which wants to build a casino in Missouri.
A spokesperson for Gretiens, Parker Briden, said the Senators are throwing a temper tantrum. “It’s just more evidence that Governor Greitens is an outsider who is doing what he said he would do: taking on politicians in both parties to get results” said Briden. “When career politicians are whining, Missourians are winning.”
The Senators will likely have to wait to have their resolution considered. Republican Senate Floor Leader Mike Kehoe of Jefferson City says their proposal won’t advance during the current special session.