The Missouri Ethics Commission has closed a case against former Governor Eric Greitens.
The Commission dropped its investigation of Greitens, his campaign committee, Greitens For Missouri, and campaign associate Danny Laub Friday in a letter to all three parties.
The case was closed even though the Commission found “reasonable grounds” to believe a criminal violation occurred when the campaign committee submitted an amended Quarterly Report in April 2015. The report stated that committee employee Laub provided the donor list from Greitens’ charity, The Mission Continues, at a value of $600.
The Commission voted to refer its case in which it found Laub could have committed a criminal violation to Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson in June. Richardson declined to take the case in a letter to the commission earlier this month, stating that there’s no evidence of a violation.
The Commission’s letter Friday, written by Executive Director Elizabeth Ziegler, stated that it had no authority to take any further action against Greitens or his campaign but noted Missouri law allows for criminal prosecution up to three years after an alleged offense.
Richardson will be leaving his position as Cole County Prosecutor after this year, having lost his re-election bid in this month’s Republican primary. The next prosecutor will be able to reexamine the case and the Ethics Commission will not have to resubmit its request for the Cole County Prosecutor to do so.
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 Mission Continues 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 amended quarterly report was subsequently submitted which identified Laub as the person making the in-kind donation. Greitens settled the complaint with the Commission by paying a $100 fee and admitting he used the charity donor list in his campaign.
Charity involvement in political contests is a violation of ethics law. The fee was accepted by the Commission as full payment of a $1,000 fine for failing to follow the law.
A Missouri House special committee that was investigating possible wrongdoing by Greitens also looked into the ethics complaint.
The committee’s chairman, Republican Jay Barnes of Jefferson City issued a letter in late June, saying the panel possessed sufficient documentary evidence to establish that Greitens and his campaign had misappropriated property of The Mission Continues and then lied about it on a report to the Ethics Commission.
Laub testified before the House committee that Governor Greitens had forged an “untrue” settlement agreement with the Commission. He told the committee that the amended quarterly report filed with the Commission by Greitens concerning the donor list was false “in every particular”. Laub said the “whole document made [him] sick”.
In his testimony, Laub said he was talked into allowing his name to be used in settlement, thinking he would be listed as a campaign staffer, not the donor. Laub never worked for The Mission Continues. He blamed Greitens campaign staffer Austin Chambers for misleading him.
The House special committee was dissolved after Greitens resigned from office. Greitens agreed to resign in exchange for criminal charges against him being dropped. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner filed a felony “computer tampering” charge against him in April for taking the donor list without permission of the charity. She dismissed her case in June as part of her agreement with Greitens.
The Mission Continues was formed by Greitens in 2007 as a charity to assist veterans. The charity itself in March said it would support an investigation into the Greitens campaign’s possible misuse of resources.
At the time, it was responding to a probe launched by Attorney General Josh Hawley into the campaign’s use of donor and email lists connected to the charity. That investigation involved his office’s enforcement responsibilities under the consumer protection and charitable registration and reporting laws. Hawley’s investigation went unresolved.
Mission Continues president Spencer Kympton stated his organization did not provide or approve any use of donors’ information to the campaign for political or campaign purposes.
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