JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A new report issued by the House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight outlines the committee’s investigation into Gov. Eric Greitens and his use of a donor list from his former charity, The Mission Continues.
According to the report, Greitens lied to the Missouri Ethics Commission about taking the donor list and using it to raise campaign funds.
In October 2016, Greitens was directly asked by The Associated Press if his campaign was working off of a donor list from the organization, to which he replied: “No, we were not working off of a Mission Continues donor list.”
But the House report issued on Wednesday afternoon contradicts that, indicating that not only was his campaign working with the list but that Greitens and his campaign lied in their campaign filings and violated campaign finance laws.
“The report shows the governor took advantage of a charity that works hard to take care of our veterans,” Committee Chairman Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, said. “The committee found that the Mission Continues was the true owner of the fundraising list and its property was taken without permission and used inappropriately for political gain.”
The House report, which received unanimous approval from the committee members, found “compelling evidence” that the governor directed his personal assistant at the Mission Continues to share the list with his political operation after he left The Mission Continues, that the governor used the list knowing he was not authorized to use it for his campaign, and then knowingly falsified an ethics report regarding the transfer of the list, with his staff recruiting someone to take responsibility for the actions of others.
The report details that Greitens’ former campaign manager, Danny Laub, did not give the campaign The Mission Continues donor list, contradicting the settlement agreement that Greitens had signed in 2017 when he admitted to the wrongdoing. Laub testified that he first learned of the donor list at a Dec. 5, 2014 meeting. Several people attended this meeting, including Jennae Neustadt, Mark Bobak, Chris Bobak, and Mason Fink, where they reviewed the donor list.
Laub told the Missouri Attorney General’s Office that the governor had knowingly lied to the ethics commission about how he came into possession of the donor list, saying that he had been tricked by the Governor’s political advisers, “affirmatively misled by campaign manager Austin Chambers, to take the blame. He said Chambers convinced him to put his name on the settlement, but that he had no idea his name would be put on the report and that he would be blamed for providing the donor list.
“The whole document made me sick,” Laub said during in an April 18 deposition. “One, because it was misrepresented; and two, because now I was in a round of news stories falsely portraying what happened.”
Chambers told the Post-Dispatch he was never asked to be interviewed by the committee and called Laub’s testimony “inaccurate.”
“To say that I provided false information, or misled Laub to go along with false information, is absolutely untrue,” Chambers said.
The evidence shows that the Governor actually received the donor list himself from an employee of The Mission Continues, Lori Stevens on May 8, 2014, which they had understood to be for the purpose of calling key supporters and explaining that he was stepping down as CEO.
Furthermore, the committee’s findings reveal that Greitens had signed a nondisclosure agreement with The Mission Continues, dated November 27, 2012, agreeing to hold in strict confidence “the identities of any donors or investors, and any personal information of donors or investors, and any contact information for donors or investors,” as well as any “lists, databases … trade or business secrets, … and similar or dissimilar information relating to the operations or activities of TMC.
The agreement stated that Greitens would not disclose any confidential information with any third party, and that the “intellectual property” developed by himself belongs to The Mission Continues and could not be used by him unless he had received written consent from the organization.
The Mission Continues president, Spencer Kympton, testified that the donor list was covered by that nondisclosure agreement.
The report also shows that Greitens had considered running for office as early as October 2013, though his campaign committee wasn’t formed until 2015. The report indicates that Greitens paid advisers personally and through The Greitens Group, though statewide office candidates are required to register a campaign committee with the MEC after they have spent $500 or more.
The report also describes several instances in which Greitens allegedly directed the sharing of the donor list. One of The Mission Continues employees said she provided the list to Laub and political consultant Michael Hafner in January 2015 under the direction of Greitens, which Hafner said he used the list to create a list of people for Greitens to call to raise money for his campaign.
Following the release of the report, Democrats in the House renewed their calls for Greitens’ resignation or impeachment.
“Eric Greitens stole from a charity for veterans and committed this theft to further his political career. The man is without honor, without scruples and is utterly lacking in the moral authority necessary to effectively govern,” House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, said. “As has been clear for weeks, he has only two choices – resign or face impeachment. With the evidence against him mounting with each passing day, there is no other way this ends.”
“We have remained committed to the process of meticulously gathering the facts of all of the governor’s actions, not rushing to judgement, and letting those facts speak for themselves,” Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, stated. “The committee’s second report is another step in the process of that thorough review.”
Read the full report below:
Benjamin Peters was a reporter for The Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine and also produced 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.