JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Eric Greitens lied to the Missouri Ethics Commission about his campaign's political use of a donor list compiled for a nonprofit he founded, a House investigative committee has found.
A 22-page report released Wednesday by the committee includes testimony from current and former employees of the nonprofit The Mission Continues, which supports veterans. The staffers said Greitens was first given the list as part of his transition from CEO to board member, but that it was never authorized to be used for political purposes.
The report asserts that:
- Greitens directed his personal assistant to share the list with his political operation.
- Greitens used the list knowing he wasn’t authorized to do so.
- Greitens signed a falsified ethics report regarding the transfer of the list.
Greitens initially denied using the donor list for campaign purposes to The Associated Press in 2016, but later he amended an April 15, 2016 campaign finance report after a complaint was filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission. The report was amended to record the list as an in-kind donation from Danny Laub, Greitens’ former campaign manager.
In Wednesday's report, Laub contests that assertion, telling the committee it was “false in every particular.”
Laub testified that in April 2017, then-campaign manager Austin Chambers contacted him asking if they could list his name on the form "so we can get this bullshit claim dismissed." Laub agreed but testified that he did not understand what he was agreeing to. Laub thought his name would be listed as the manager of the campaign, not as the individual who provided the donor list, he said.
The committee found that Laub could not have provided the list because he did not work at The Mission Continues. Instead, the committee determined, the list was sent to Laub and another campaign worker by Krystal Proctor, Greitens' former executive assistant, at Greitens’ direction.
Laub told the committee the ethics report "made (him) sick … because it was misrepresented [and] because [he] was in a round of news stories falsely portraying what happened,” according to the report.
The committee's report includes another possible campaign finance reporting violation. Laub’s pay from Greitens for his work early in the campaign was not reported on Greitens’ campaign finance report. Neither was Michael Hafner’s, another campaign worker. Both were initially paid by Greitens personally or his LLC, instead of by the campaign.
The Missouri Ethics Commission did not respond to a request for comment, and The Mission Continues could not be reached for comment.
Speaker of the House Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, and committee chairman Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, issued a joint statement Wednesday about the findings of the report.
“The report shows the governor took advantage of a charity that works hard to take care of our veterans,” Barnes 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.”
Catherine Hanaway, who is legal counsel for Greitens for Missouri, issued a statement Wednesday saying the committee did not allow Greitens’ campaign an opportunity to respond to the testimony against it.
“If Chairman Barnes were on a quest to find out the truth, he has unfinished business to conduct. He ought to ask the campaign for its version of events before acting as judge and jury in a matter that was settled long ago,” Hanaway said.
Transfer of the list
According to the report, Greitens first obtained the donor list in May 2014, when he informed the board of The Mission Continues that he would be stepping down as CEO as he prepared to run for governor. A campaign staffer, Lori Stevens, emailed the donor list to Greitens; Proctor; Spencer Kympton, president of the nonprofit; and Lyndsey Reichardt, a former staffer.
Proctor, Reichardt and Kympton all testified that in 2014, the only reason for sending the list to Greitens was for him to notify donors about his change in position. A nondisclosure agreement Greitens signed while he was the CEO applied to the donor list with no exceptions, Kympton said.
Proctor testified that on Jan. 6, 2015, she sent the donor list to Laub and Hafner. She told the committee “there was no confusion” that the list would be used for political fundraising when she sent it to Hafner and Laub.
“Proctor testified she never received authorization to share the list from anyone other than Greitens, and that Greitens directed her to share the list after he left (The Mission Continues),” the committee report said.
Federal law prohibits 501(c)(3) charities such as The Mission Continues from giving donor lists to politicians.
The official campaign, Greitens for Missouri, was formed in February 2015. Proctor shared the list with Meredith Gibbons, the finance director for that organization, on April 22, 2015.
Reichardt said it was “a misuse, as far as The Mission Continues is concerned."
The list contained names, phone numbers and emails for more than 500 individuals and hundreds of businesses and foundations that had donated more than $1,000 to The Mission Continues. AP reported in 2016 that Greitens’ campaign raised almost $2 million from donors on the list.
Proctor testified the names on the list were “(Greitens’) contacts, his friends and family members and colleagues, people he had brought into The Mission Continues who were supporters of his.”
Greitens did not bring in every name on the list, however, Kympton testified. Reichardt also said her job at The Mission Continues included “anything related to fundraising” and she was in constant contact with donors, and was responsible for bringing in several donors who gave more than $1,000.
Richardson announced in April that the House would begin gathering signatures on a petition to convene a special session to consider recommendations of the committee, which could include impeachment. He reaffirmed the committee’s fact-finding role in Wednesday’s statement.
The committee has yet to make any recommendations but has a deadline of May 18, the final day of the legislative session.
“We have remained committed to the process of meticulously gathering the facts of all of the governor’s actions, not rushing to judgment, and letting those facts speak for themselves,” Richardson said. “The committee’s second report is another step in the process of that thorough review.”
Democrats on Wednesday said the latest report is more evidence that the governor must go.
“Eric Greitens stole from a charity for veterans and committed this theft to further his political career," said Rep. Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, in a statement. "The man is without honor, without scruples and is utterly lacking in the moral authority necessary to effectively govern."
Beatty filed a House resolution on April 17 that would give the committee investigating Greitens the authority to introduce articles of impeachment against the governor, but her resolution hasn’t progressed.
Talks of impeachment have been circling the Capitol since the release of the first report in April. Republicans have been signing a petition that would allow the legislature to go into a special session to consider recommendations suggested by the committee, including impeachment. Democrats have largely held off on signing, instead wanting to begin impeachment proceedings immediately.
House Democrats said they are frustrated Republicans “seem to be stalling” on impeachment in a letter to Richardson sent Tuesday.
Along with the letter, Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, filed another House resolution that would allow Richardson to choose another committee to review the investigative reports and draw articles of impeachment.
“Further delay on (impeachment) tells our constituents across the state that despite unanimous agreement of a bipartisan committee those allegations of atrocious sexual assault are credible, such assault is insufficient cause to remove our state’s highest elected official from office,” the letter read.
Beatty said the ongoing controversy around the governor would hurt new business investment in Missouri.
“Who wants to come to a state where all of this is going on?” Beatty said. “Unfortunately our governor doesn’t care about this.”
Rep. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, said there was more than enough to move for impeachment immediately.
“Everything (outside of passing the budget) to me seems like we’re doing busy work when we know what the elephant in the room is and what we need to get done, which is removing Eric Greitens from office,” Razer said.
Many Republican lawmakers have held off on commenting about Greitens, saying that due process needs to play out.
Rep. Sara Walsh, R-Ashland, said she had not read the latest report Wednesday afternoon.
Rep. Mike Stephens, R-Bolivar, said Greitens didn’t do himself any favors by “burning all his bridges” in the legislature before he even took office but added he would try to keep his personal feelings about Greitens out of his “final judgment.”
“I wish that the relationship between the governor and the legislature were somewhat different from what it was, but none of that really needs to affect the outcome of this,” Stephens, said.
Rep. Shamed Dogan, R- Ballwin, called the report “extremely troubling” and said Greitens has not been telling the whole truth.
“For someone who came out and lectured the legislature at the state of the state about ethics,” Dogan said, “kinda ironic isn’t it?”
The report released Wednesday is the committee’s second. The first, released April 11, detailed allegations made by Greitens' former hairdresser that he sexually and physically abused her in 2015. The report included extensive testimony from the woman, two of her friends and her ex-husband.
The woman told the committee that during the first encounter, Greitens took her into his basement, tied her up, blindfolded her and took a partially nude photo of her with his cellphone. She said at one point she was crying uncontrollably, and Greitens coaxed her into performing oral sex.
Greitens has maintained he had a consensual relationship with the woman and was never violent toward her.
Greitens has been charged with two separate felonies: invasion of privacy because of the photo and tampering with computer data because of the donor list.
After the first report, Greitens claimed the woman’s testimony for the criminal trial contradicted what she told the committee. The committee then released an addendum to the first report comparing the woman’s testimony side by side.
The committee said Greitens "mischaracterized" part of the woman's deposition, in which she said she might have remembered Greitens having a phone in a dream and affirmed its position that the woman was credible.
Max Cotton and Riley Newton contributed to this report.
Supervising editor is Mark Horvit, email@example.com.