The report issued by the special House committee Wednesday indicates that Governor Eric Greitens broke campaign finance laws by paying advisors personally or through one of his groups before forming his campaign committee in February 2015.
According to the state Ethics Commission, it requires candidates running for statewide office to register with the commission when they spend more than $500.
The report also reveals through testimony from a former campaign operative that he made a dishonest settlement agreement with the commission after admitting he improperly accessed a donor list from his former charity.
According to the report, an email suggests Greitens was considering a run for office as early as October 16, 2013. Krystal Proctor, one of his employees at The Greitens Group and The Mission Continues charity testified that Greitens had decided he was running for office in early 2014.
Danny Laub began advising Greitens on political activity in early 2014. Laub testified he prepared a memo for Greitens in February 2014 regarding gubernatorial campaign strategy.
According to the report. within a few months, Greitens began to ramp up fundraising efforts. By May 2014, Greitens had possession of The Mission Continues (TMC) donor list labeled “All donors 1K total and up”.
The committee has concluded that there is compelling evidence that the governor directed his personal assistant at the Mission Continues to share the list with his political operation after he left The Mission Continues.
Its report said that by December 2014, Greitens had hired Laub, who testified that he was paid by Eric Greitens, LLC. It also notes that Greitens called for a “Finance Meeting” on January 7th, 2015.
Prior to that meeting, Proctor emailed Laub the donor list. She testified to the committee that she sent it at Greitens’ direction. She further told the committee that “there was no confusion” when she shared the list that they were going to use it to support “the political campaign” and, in particular, “political fundraising.”
The committee’s report, which was unanimously approved by its members, also found that the governor used the donor list knowing he was not authorized to use it for his campaign.
It also concluded that after the fact, Greitens knowingly falsified an ethics report regarding the transfer of the list, with his staff recruiting someone to take responsibility for the actions of others.
The Associated Press reported in October 2016 that Greitens had received $2 million in campaign contributions from individuals and groups that were also listed in the charity donor list. Former Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Roy Temple then filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission for failure to report the donor list as an in-kind donation.
The House committee report notes that in a subsequent filing with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Greitens and his campaign admitted that the campaign used the donor list for fundraising purposes.
He signed a settlement agreement in which he asserted the donor list was an in-kind contribution received from Danny Laub on March 1, 2015, and had a value of $600. Greitens paid a $100 fee as a condition of the settlement.
But the House report says the list was not an in-kind contribution from Danny Laub, noting that Laub was never an employee at The Mission Continues charity and that Greitens’ employee Krystal Proctor had sent him the donor list. Laub testified that Greitens’ political advisor Austin Chambers called him on April 24, 2017, and described the conversation as follows in the committee report:
“And then Austin says to me, ‘I don’t know if you know this, but there’s a bull___ethics complaint filed against us by the Democrat party about this Mission Continues donor list.’ And he said, ‘I need someone who was on the campaign at the time, because I wasn’t, to put their name down so we can get this bull___ complaint dismissed. We will pay’ – assuming him and the campaign – ‘will pay the fine, but we need to put someone’s name down who was on the campaign at the time, and I was not.’ And he said, ‘Can we put your name down?”
Laub testified that he told Chambers the Greitens campaign could use his name, assuming it meant that he was the manager of the campaign at the time, not that he contributed the donor list.
Laub testified that Governor Greitens had forged an “untrue” settlement agreement with the Missouri Ethics Commission. He told the committee that an amended campaign finance report filed with the commission by Greitens concerning the donor list was false “in every particular”. The report quotes Laub as saying the “whole document made [him] sick.”
Chambers responded to Laub’s accounting of events in the committee by calling him “a disgruntled former employee”. He said, “To say I provided false information is untrue.”
Attorney Catherine Hanaway, Governor Greitens’ legal counsel released a statement Wednesday, noting Laub had the donor list before the campaign was formed. She criticized the report and chastised the House committee’s chairman, Republican Jay Barnes of Jefferson City.
“The report released today by Chairman Jay Barnes does a tremendous disservice to the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions, said Hanaway. “Even a casual observer of our legal process knows that in the United States every American is entitled to their day in court, an opportunity to be heard, and proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Even though the report alleges that a false campaign report was filed, the Chairman did not allow the campaign an opportunity to be heard. He never asked the campaign to testify before his committee, nor did he request that the campaign provide any documents to his Committee…If Chairman Barnes were on a quest to find out the truth, he has unfinished business to conduct. He ought to ask the campaign for its version of events before acting as judge and jury in a matter that was settled long ago.”
Read the Missouri special House committee’s second report by clicking below.