Attorney General hands evidence over to St. Louis Circuit Attorney and House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Attorney General Josh Hawley is pulling no punches when it comes to allegations of misconduct by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens.
In a Tuesday morning press conference, Hawley announced that his office’s investigation into The Mission Continues, a charity founded by Greitens, has led to the uncovering of evidence that could be considered criminal in nature.
“In the course of this investigation, we have uncovered evidence of wrongdoing that goes beyond Missouri’s charity laws,” Hawley said. “To be specific, within the past several days, we have obtained evidence of potential criminal violations of Missouri law. And the evidence indicates that these potential criminal acts were committed by Gov. Eric Greitens.”
In plain English, Greitens’ use of the charity’s donor list broke the law.
Use of the donor list was first reported in October 2016 by The Associated Press, who found that Greitens had raised nearly $2 million from donors who had also given significant amounts of money to the charity in the past. The investigation, which first began back in February, has since seen subpoenas issued to several staff members and has collected thousands of pages of documents and testimony.
According to Hawley, who is currently running for U.S. Senate, the evidence collected “would likely support a finding of probable cause that Mr. Greitens obtained an electronic donor list created by The Mission Continues for that organization’s purposes.”
He said that Greitens used that list for fundraising, and transmitted the list, which Hawley says could amount to the “unauthorized taking and use of electronic property”, which he said is also known as computer tampering.
“Given the value of the list in question, it is a felony,” Hawley said.
Under the law, tampering with computer data is prohibited, making it a crime if anyone discloses confidential information. The offense is a Class E felony, as the alleged act deals with more than $750.
He elaborated later that the evidence points only to wrongdoing by Greitens, not the charity.
That evidence, Hawley said, is being turned over to the St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office to decide whether to file charges, as the crime occurred in their jurisdiction.
“My office, under Missouri law, does not possess jurisdiction to charge this crime,” Hawley said. “Instead, jurisdiction belongs to the local prosecutor where the acts were committed.
“Yesterday, my office secured court permission to share all evidence we have collected with the circuit attorney’s office in St. Louis.”
Hawley said that the deadline for the statute of limitations was approaching and that if charges were to be filed, it must be soon. He says his office will stand ready to assist them if they choose to file charges.
A spokesperson for Gardner’s office confirmed they are reviewing the evidence, but cannot discuss any specifics at this time due to the ongoing investigation.
Gardner’s office is already in the midst of a case seeking to prosecute Greitens on a felony charge of invading a woman’s privacy, and a hearing on a motion to dismiss that case is scheduled for Thursday.
He said that his office had obtained permission from the courts to share the evidence with the House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight, which has also been investigating claims against the embattled Republican governor.
Hawley says that his office will continue to collaborate with the House committee and that his office’s investigation into The Mission Continues will continue as well.
When asked about criticism from those saying the Attorney General was being hard on Greitens due to his bid for U.S. Senate, Hawley replied: “I’m doing my job.”
My job is to enforce the laws of Missouri and to protect the people of Missouri,” Hawley continued. “And I’m going to go on going it no matter who criticizes me or who tries to intimidate me. This office will not be intimidated, and will not be deterred.”
Meanwhile, Hawley’s announcement on Tuesday has led to renewed calls for Greitens’ resignation.
“With each passing day, the evidence that Eric Greitens is unfit to serve as governor mounts,” House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, said. “He should spare himself and the people of Missouri the ordeal of impeachment proceedings and resign without further delay. If Greitens continues to stubbornly cling to power, the House must immediately act to initiate his ultimate removal from office.”
U.S. Sen Claire McCaskill also issued a statement Tuesday afternoon:
“We’re glad that Hawley has come out of hiding to acknowledge the existing evidence of criminal behavior of the Governor. However, the sad truth is that this shows gross incompetence on the part of the Attorney General. The evidence in this case has been publicly available since October 2016 — what excuse could Josh Hawley possibly have for failing to pursue an investigation and allowing this evidence to languish for over a year? The only reason the statute of limitations is now a problem, in this case, is because Hawley was trying to protect his friend and large donor for as long as possible.”
A statement from Gov. Greitens, put out through Clout Public Affairs, says:
“Fortunately for Josh, he’s better at press conferences than the law. Anyone who has set foot in a Missouri courtroom knows these allegations are ridiculous. Josh has turned the “evidence” he claims to have over to St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner – a liberal prosecutor funded by George Soros who allegedly suborned perjury, falsified documents, and withheld evidence. We will dispense with these false allegations.”
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.