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Greitens campaign hit with MEC complaint

  

A Washington, D.C.-based watchdog organization filed a new complaint with the Missouri Ethics Commission (MEC) alleging former Gov. Eric Greitens illegally used more than $100,000 from his gubernatorial campaign for his U.S. Senate bid

The Campaign Legal Center previously filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) but flagged the alleged violations to the MEC Wednesday, arguing the improper spending and reporting violated both federal and state campaign finance laws. 

The group accused Greitens of spending more than $100,000 from his gubernatorial campaign fund in expenses for media, to his future campaign manager, and on a public relations firm that boasts its connections to Fox News. (Greitens announced his candidacy in March 2021 during an appearance on Bret Baier’s Fox News show.)

The complaint accused Greitens of using his state funds for “testing the water” expenses for his eventual U.S. Senate campaign. 

“It violated both state and federal law for Greitens to spend $100,000 in gubernatorial campaign funds on his U.S. Senate race without proper disclosure,” said Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform for Campaign Legal Center. “Missouri voters have a right to know where the money being spent to influence their votes is coming from.”

“No funds from prior campaigns have been used in the Senate race. This is another cynical Soros-funded witchhunt, and we will seek damages for these libelous claims,” Dylan Johnson, Greitens’ campaign manager, said in an email.

In its MEC complaint, the Campaign Legal Center said Greitens violated a previous consent decree with the state commission that promised not to commit further campaign finance violations for two years. If found to have violated that agreement, Greitens would need to pay the remaining $140,000 fine, the complaint said. 

Last year, Greitens agreed to pay a $38,000 settlement with the MEC after regulators initially levied a more than $178,000 fine for two campaign finance reporting violations related to in-kind contributions.

Greitens resigned as Missouri’s governor in 2018 after just over a year in office amid campaign finance and sexual misconduct allegations and threats of impeachment. 

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As he runs for U.S. Senate, Greitens insists he’s been cleared of any wrongdoing and has cast himself as a candidate maligned by the media and opponents in an effort to liken himself to former President Donald Trump. 

The Campaign Legal Center alleged Greitens violated the straw donor ban — which prohibits circumventing campaign finance laws by making a donation in someone else’s name — by reporting an in-kind contribution to his U.S. Senate campaign that actually came from his gubernatorial campaign fund. 

The complaint said $18,750 was paid to Abrot Creative for “web services” in 2020. His website, www.ericgreitens.com, was updated in May 2020 with the disclaimers “Greitens for Missouri” and “Website created by Abrot Creative.” 

However, once he formally announced his Senate candidacy in March 2021, the website only changed to include his Senate campaign logo and say: “Paid for by Greitens for U.S. Senate,” according to the complaint.  

Greiten’s first FEC report included an $18,000 in-kind donation. 

“Given that Greitens for Missouri spent roughly $18,000 developing the website, and that the website content was largely unchanged after control was transferred to Greitens for U.S. Senate, there is reason to believe that Greitens’s state campaign committee — rather than Eric Greitens himself — actually made the $18,000 in-kind website contribution to Greitens for U.S. Senate,” the Campaign for Legal Center alleged. 

This story has been updated to include a statement from Dylan Johnson, the Greitens campaign manager.