The chairman of the special Missouri House committee that investigated former Governor Eric Greitens filed an ethics complaint Tuesday alleging campaign finance law violations by Greitens and several operatives.
Republican Representative Jay Barnes of Jefferson City indicated when he announced the disbandment of the committee after Greitens resigned from office that an ethics complaint would be forthcoming. The committee ceased its investigation into numerous criminal and ethical violations against Greitens when he resigned on June 1st.
Several people are named in the complaint as operatives who were involved in the Greitens’ campaign committee, Greitens for Missouri and his non-profit 501 (c) (4), A New Missouri, which does not report donors. They are Austin Chambers, who served as campaign manager from 2015 to 2018; Meredith Gibbons who served as finance director from 2015 to 2018 and Nick Ayers, Vice-President Mike Pence’s current Chief of Staff, who served as a Greitens consultant beginning in 2015.
Democratic Representatives Gina Mitten and Tommie Pierson, who served on the special House committee, released a statement along with the release of the complaint, saying Greitens and his former staffers “cannot be allowed to escape accountability.”
The 25-page complaint claims the operatives of Greitens for Missouri set up A New Missouri for the purpose of evading campaign finance laws enacted after the 2016 election, noting that Chambers publicly stated A New Missouri’s purpose was to support Eric Greitens and his agenda.
It also identifies a series of transactions before the election in which almost $2 million was funneled to Greitens for Missouri through non-profits that don’t reveal donors.
In addition, it identifies a political action committee that spent $4 million on ads attacking Greitens’ opponents in the Republican primary after receiving $4.37 million from a similar non-profit that doesn’t report donors.
The complaint alleges violations and wrongdoing occurred beginning in 2014.
It says that in December 2014, Greitens knowingly and purposefully failed to form a campaign committee despite having been advised by political advisor Michael Hafner that the Missouri Ethics Commission required it. It claims Greitens spent money to further a campaign, including paying campaign staffers and traveling at least once to California to meet with potential donors.
Hafner, who was a paid advisor to Greitens in early 2015, testified before the House special committee in May that Monu Joseph wanted to discuss “how the campaign was going to bundle contributions and conceal the identity of donors.” Joseph is a California based venture capitalist and contact of Greitens that Hafner said was planning to contribute between $250,000-and-$500,000 to the campaign, possibly through a 501 (c) (4).
Barnes’ complaint submission makes note of numerous occasions when Greitens’ operatives suggested the use of 501 (c) (4)’s that by law aren’t required to reports donors.
It states that on November 17, 2015, Greitens for Missouri’s campaign manager Austin Chambers directed Gibbons, the finance director, to encourage a potentially politically problematic donor to give through a “C4” instead of directly to the campaign
It also contends that on June 27, 2016, an early supporter and fundraiser of Greitens’ emailed financial director Gibbons at her campaign email address with instructions for a potential restricted donor who is identified as such because his company “manages money for the state of Missouri.” Gibbons was advised that “Eric can mention the 501(c)(4) if applicable.”
Barnes complaint alleges Greitens for Missouri and its principals violated a new campaign law passed by voters in the same 2016 election in which Greitens was victorious by creating A New Missouri, Inc. as an entity to direct over-the-limit contributions to Greitens for Missouri. (The new 2016 law limits contributions from any person to $2,600.)
Documents obtained by the House special committee reveal that Gibbons directed large donors to A New Missouri, Inc. for large donations to benefit Eric Greitens
Barnes submission claims that Gibbons received an email at her Greitens for Missouri address from a national fundraiser associated with Greitens for Missouri that identified six potential donors who could contribute amounts between $100k to $1 million. The email stated that at least two of the donors “should be on EG’s (Eric Greitens) call list.”
The complaint contends that A New Missouri, Inc. effectively operated as a “fictitious name” or “the name of another person” through which Greitens for Missouri accepted contributions “in such a manner as to conceal the identity of the actual source of the contribution and the actual recipient.”
It claims that A New Missouri, Inc. funneled $2 million to political committees involved in a right to work ballot initiative, a cause championed by Greitens as governor.
Through a series of transactions during Greitens’ campaign for governor, the complaint names several entities involved in the movement of money it claims was meant to hide donors.
It identifies multiple fast-moving transactions among entities ending with deposits into Greitens’ campaign.
For one, it contends Greitens for Missouri received large contributions from anonymous donors through SEALS for Truth, a federal PAC, and American Policy Coalition, Inc, a 501(c)(4). Both organizations are based in Washington D.C.
The complaint notes that on July 18, 2016, Greitens for Missouri reported a contribution of $1.975 million from SEALs for Truth while reports with the Federal Elections Commission show SEALs for Truth received a single contribution of $2 million on the same day from American Policy Coalition.
Barnes’ submission further states that Greitens for Missouri received in-kind (not in the form of money) contributions from anonymous donors through LG PAC, another federal PAC. From June 1 to July 29, 2016, FEC records show that Freedom Frontier, a 501(c)(4) located in Texas, donated $4.37 million to LG PAC.
The complaint tracks a timeline in which a donation of $500,000 from Freedom Frontier to LG PAC on June 29, 2016 occurred just two days after an email which suggested that Greitens’ finance director Gibbons and Greitens “mention the 501(c)(4)” to a potential restricted donor who worked for a company that “manages money for the state of Missouri.”
The complaint states that in 2016, LG PAC spent over $4 million on political ads attacking Greitens rivals for the Republican nomination for Governor.
It says Greitens for Missouri denied any connection with LG PAC in 2016 but notes that on September 18, 2017, Greitens’ campaign consultant Ayers stated in federal personal financial disclosure forms that he was paid by Freedom Frontier.
Barnes’ submission identifies three more operatives connected to both Greitens for Missouri and A New Missouri: treasurer and registered agent Jeff Stuerman, legal counsel Michael Adams and legal counsel Catherine Hanaway.
The complaint concludes that A New Missouri, Inc. is required to file campaign finance reports with the Missouri Ethics Commission detailing contributions and expenditures but has failed to do so.
Barnes asked the commission to “investigate further” into his complaint against Geitens for Missouri and A New Missouri.