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Greitens misused campaign funds in Senate bid, watchdog alleges

  

Former Gov. Eric Greitens misused campaign funds in his U.S. Senate bid, according to a complaint filed to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) by a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group. 

The Campaign Legal Center’s complaint accused Greitens of using more than $100,000 in state campaign funds for his U.S. Senate race and incorrectly reporting some of that funding as a personal contribution. 

The complaint, filed with the FEC Wednesday, 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. 

“While Greitens’ 2022 Senate campaign may only accept contributions of up to $2,900 per individual and, importantly, cannot receive corporate funds, his gubernatorial campaign raised dozens of contributions far exceeding that amount — some as much as $100,000 and above,” Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform for the Campaign Legal Center, said. “Senate candidates cannot quietly finance their campaign with six-figure and corporate contributions.” 

A representative for the Greitens campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Further, 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 this 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’s complaint alleged. 

Federal law prohibits the use of state-level campaign funds in bids for federal offices — such as for U.S. Senate — because of different rules. 

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Last year, Greitens agreed to pay a $38,000 settlement with the Missouri Ethics Commission (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. 

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. 

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, Congressman Billy Long, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and attorney Mark McCloskey are also vying for the GOP nomination as U.S. Senator Roy Blunt is not seeking re-election. 

Schmitt outraised the other GOP contenders in the third quarter, bringing in nearly $652,000 and ending the quarter with almost $1.2 million cash on hand. Hartzler brought in more than $446,000 but ended the quarter with $1.65 million cash on hand. 

Long brought in more than $552,000 and had nearly $540,000 cash on hand at the end of the quarter; McCloskey brought in about $261,000 and ended the quarter with around $92,000 cash on hand. 

Greitens ended the quarter with nearly $379,000 contributions and $200,000 cash on hand. However, minus debts, his cash on hand only totals about $57,000. He has been traveling to other states to tout claims related to election and border security issues.