JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Attorneys for a nonprofit group allied with former-Gov. Eric Greitens are seeking to squash a lawsuit seeking records of their financial dealings.
Catherine Hanaway, attorney for A New Missouri, argued in Cole County Court on Thursday that Elad Gross, a St. Louis attorney who previously worked for the Attorney General’s Office, lacked standing to inspect the records and thus to sue for not receiving them.
Gross references a state law covering nonprofits that says those who benefit from public benefit organizations are able to inspect its records. Since A New Missouri is a “issue advocacy organization established to promote policies to create more jobs, higher pay, safer streets, better schools, and more, for all Missourians,” Gross says he benefits from the groups work.
He is seeking to force A New Missouri to open their records and reveal how they are spending the money that is donated to them. Gross is not seeking the identity of those who contribute to the so-called dark money organization.
The statute that Gross cites, only “pertains to anyone who has skin in the game,” according to Hanaway. She said that to have standing under the statute, a person must be a member, a donor, or a beneficiary of activities.
According to Hanaway, A New Missouri has no members and the group currently isn’t benefiting Missourians because “there is no activity on part of A New Missouri at this point.”
“He is trying to take a statute and sort of expand it far beyond what it was ever intended,” said Hanaway.
Gross disagrees with her assessment, saying that this situation was exactly what the statute was intended for.
“This statute was made for this type of an organization, because A New Missouri has chosen multiple times not to release records to the public,” Gross said. “This organization time and time again has avoided releasing any records.”
He worried that if A New Missouri’s interpretation of the statute is upheld, then there will be a lot of so-called dark money flowing into the state. He also expressed frustration that the attorney general has not acted on any allegations against the nonprofit.
Gross mentioned that he was considering running for attorney general as a Democrat.
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.