By TIM ROWDEN
Jefferson City – Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has waged a singular, corporate and dark money backed war against workers since taking office, all while ignoring his campaign promises to clean up the culture in Jefferson City.
Now, a bipartisan group of six Missouri state senators is calling for an investigation of the governor for possible ethical – and potentially criminal – violations regarding his use of a donor list from his former charity to raise money for his 2016 campaign.
In late April, Greitens admitted to violating state campaign finance laws by failing to disclose his campaign’s use of a donor list from The Mission Continues, a charity for aiding former veterans that Greitens helped found and ran until his run for governor. Greitens’ campaign was fined $1,000 by the Missouri Ethics Commission and amended its campaign finance reports to claim the donor list as an in-kind contribution from the charity.
However, a spokeswoman for The Mission Continues told The Kansas City Star that it didn’t provide the list to Greitens or his campaign. If the campaign didn’t obtain the list with permission, the only alternative explanation appears to be that it was stolen.
Laura L’Esperance, The Mission Continues’ spokeswoman, told The Kansas City Star that her organization does not share, sell nor rent information about its donors to external parties.
“Donors’ personal information is considered strictly confidential,” she said. “The Mission Continues did not provide, nor authorize use of, our donors’ information to any persons or groups for political/campaign purposes.”
Senator Jason Holsman, a Kansas City Democrat, along with another Democrat and four Republicans, including Senators Bob Dixon (R-Springfield), Doug Libla (R-Poplar Bluff), Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph), Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) and Scott Sifton (D-Affton) recently filed the resolution calling for the Senate to set up a special investigative committee to look into how the campaign acquired the donor list, among other issues.
The Senate resolution would establish a five-member committee to investigate the matter, with full power to subpoena witnesses and records. While Senate Republican leaders said the measure wouldn’t advance during the special legislative session, they left open the possibility of it being considered during next year’s regular legislative session.
“Missouri voters deserve to know the role Gov. Greitens played in the illegal activity of his campaign, and how deep the corruption within the governor’s organization continues to go,” Holsman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
‘DARK MONEY’ GROUP
In addition to issues relating to the donor list, the bipartisan group also wants to investigate whether Greitens’ recently established dark money organization, A New Missouri, a nonprofit that promotes Greitens’ agenda, is violating state campaign finance and lobbying laws.
Dixon, Libla, Schaaf, Silvey and Holsman were targeted by A New Missouri over their perceived opposition to a Blue Alert bill favored by Greitens.
Senators have railed on Greitens for the formation of the dark money nonprofit, saying taxpayers have no way of knowing if major donors are contributing to the organization in hope of receiving favorable legislation or decisions from the governor
In a news release, the senators noted their concern with “the blurring of lines” between the governor’s office and the governor’s campaign staff.
“You can’t ignore possible unethical behavior by the governor or his campaign, just because you share the same party label,” Silvey said.
Sifton said Greitens “obsession” with secrecy leaves the Senate with no other choice.
“If the governor won’t come clean, then we must use every resource available to the Senate to uncover the truth,” Sifton said.