JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A newly filed Missouri ethic complaint outlines a multitude of campaign finance violations by former-Gov. Eric Greitens’ campaign and a political nonprofit tied to him.
On July 10, 2018, Rep. Jay Barnes, who chaired the committee tasked with investigating the allegations against Greitens, filed the 25-page complaint. He is asking the Missouri Ethics Commission to “investigate further” into Greitens for Missouri and A New Missouri “and enforce the duly-enacted campaign finance laws.”
The MEC is currently without an executive director following James Klahr’s move to the Missouri Veterans Commission. The panel does have a quorum enabling them to still conduct business.
Greitens abruptly resigned from office at the end of May, following 17 turbulent months as Missouri’s Governor. The “political outsider’s” issues came to a head when news broke of a 2015 extramarital affair.
In the months following the revelation, he was charged with two separate felonies — invasion of privacy and computer tampering — both of which have since been dropped. In exchange for his resignation, the charges relating to stealing The Mission Continues donor list were dropped.
As allegations against Greitens surfaced, the Missouri House formed a committee to investigate Greitens and consider potential punishment for his actions, including impeachment.
When Greitens resigned, the House committee was no longer the appropriate investigative body, according to Barnes. As such, he used information uncovered during the investigation to file a complaint with the MEC against Greitens for Missouri and A New Missouri.
The complaint singles out three of Greitens’ advisors: Nick Ayers, who is now Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff; Meredith Gibbons, who was the fundraiser for both organizations; and Austin Chambers, Greitens’ campaign manager.
According to information obtained by the House Special Investigative Committee on Government Oversight and detailed in the complaint, Greitens for Missouri “funneled” donations through 501(c)(4) nonprofits in order to hide the identities of the donor.
In one email, an early supporter and fundraiser of Greitens’ emailed Gibbons with instructions for a potential restricted donor. In this case, the restricted donor is noted because his company “manages money for the state of Missouri.” Nevertheless, Gibbons is advised, “Eric can mention the 501(c)(4) if applicable[.]”
In a different instance, Chambers told Gibbons to encourage a potentially politically problematic donor to give through a “C4” instead of directly to the campaign “so that they don’t appear on our reports.”
A December 2015 email shows that Ayers was in contact with the Greitens campaign about a “restricted donor.”
It is unclear from the complaint who any of the prospective “restricted” donors were nor whether the donors end up donating money to Greitens bid for governor.
Barnes also alleges that Greitens failed to form a campaign committee after spending more than $500 on his run for governor and that his campaign failed to report millions in in-kind contributions.
Greitens’ obligation to form a campaign committee was triggered March 2014 when he traveled to California for meetings with potential donors who, in fact, became some of his earliest and most generous supporters, according to Barnes.
According to the complaint, Freedom Frontier, a 501(c)(4) located in Texas, donated $4.37 million to LG PAC, a federal political action committee, within a two month period. LG PAC then went and spent more than $4 million on political ads attacking Greitens rivals for the Republican nomination for Governor. While Greitens for Missouri denied any connection, Ayers — who worked for the campaign — stated on a federal personal financial disclosure form that he was paid by Freedom Frontier.
Barnes also alleges in the complaint that A New Missouri was formed to skirt campaign limitations once Greitens was in office and to conceal donors.
“The principals of Greitens for Missouri set up A New Missouri Inc. for the purpose of evading the newly-enacted campaign finance laws in Amendment 2,” the complaint states. The same election that propelled Greitens to the Governor’s Mansion instituted a $2,600 per election cap on campaign contributions.
Another part of the complaint alleges more than just campaign violations, which carry a civil penalty. Using taxpayer resources for political purposes would also violate state law.
“Upon information and belief, Lucinda Luetkemeyer, Eric Greitens’ General Counsel in his official state office, regularly attended meetings with both entities,” the complaint states, referring to Greitens for Missouri and A New Missouri. State employees are barred from political activities while they are on the clock.
Read the full complaint here:
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at firstname.lastname@example.org.