Governor Eric Greitens’ rise and fall in Missouri politics is viewed by State Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, as being all about dark money. Greitens announced his resignation on Tuesday shortly after Cole County Circuit judge Jon Beetem ordered Greitens to release documents with redactions from his political action and campaign committees.
“He kind of came in under dark money. He’s going out to protect his dark money donors. I just hope that this is the beginning of the end for dark money in Missouri,” Schaaf says.
Greitens, who came onto the political scene in 2015, ran on a platform of being a political outsider pursuing to put an end to corruption in Jefferson City.
Schaaf, a fellow Republican, has been the governor’s leading critic in the state legislature for Greitens’ refusal to reveal political action committee donor information – often referred to as dark money. He has championed legislation that would place limits on campaign contributions and shine a light on dark money in Missouri politics. The proposals have received little attention in the General Assembly.
Greitens, once considered a future presidential candidate, is accused of taking a donor list from his former charity without proper permission and using that list to bankroll his political campaign. A report by a state House committee investigating the governor 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 and paid a $100 fine.
During the House committee’s work, former Greitens campaign advisor Michael Hafner also indicated that Greitens was using shell companies to hide donors and received foreign donations, which would break federal campaign finance laws.
Is Greitens’ resignation the beginning of the end for dark money in Missouri? Schaaf says it’s not going to happen in the legislature.
“First of all, they (legislators) didn’t when given the chance. Number two, they benefit from dark money now and they would not want to change the system that keeps them in power,” he says.
Schaaf, who is serving his final year in the legislature, anticipates Missourians to enact such laws soon through the petition process. Similar measures have been passed by voters but have been overturned.
Lt. Governor Mike Parson, R, will be sworn in as Missouri’s 57th governor at 5:30 p.m. on Friday by Missouri Supreme Court Judge Mary Rhodes Russell.
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