It’s still unclear how Gov. Eric Greitens’ campaign acquired a list of donors to a veterans charity that last week resulted in a $1,000 fine by the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Greitens, a first-term Republican, agreed to pay the fine after the ethics commission determined he likely violated state law by failing to disclose that his campaign obtained a list of donors to The Mission Continues, a nonprofit that he founded in 2007. An Associated Press analysis found Greitens raised roughly $2 million from donors who previously gave significant amounts to The Mission Continues.
As a result of the ethics commission order, the governor’s campaign amended its 2015 campaign finance disclosure forms to include the charity’s donor list as a $600 in-kind contribution from Danny Laub, who was listed as Greitens’ campaign manager at the time.
But how did Laub get the donor list in the first place?
Federal law prohibits charities like The Mission Continues from intervening in political campaigns on behalf of candidates. The Internal Revenue Service has ruled that charities cannot give donor lists to politicians but can rent them at fair market value if they are made available to all candidates.
Laura L’Esperance, spokeswoman for The Mission Continues, told The Star that her organization did not provide the donor list to Laub or anyone else in the Greitens campaign.
“It is our policy to not share, sell or rent our donor list to any external parties — including campaigns,” L’Esperance said, adding: “The Mission Continues did not supply the list to the Greitens campaign. I can’t speculate how the campaign obtained or developed the list.”
Neither the governor’s campaign spokesman, Austin Chambers, nor his official spokesman, Parker Briden, responded to repeated requests for comment.
The questions surrounding the donor list began last fall, when the Associated Press obtained an Excel spreadsheet showing the names, email addresses and phone numbers of people who gave at least $1,000 to The Mission Continues. The spreadsheet’s properties showed it was created by a Mission Continues employee May 6, 2014, shortly before Greitens stepped down as CEO. It was last saved March 24, 2015, by an employee of the governor’s exploratory committee.
The governor denied at the time that his campaign was “working off of a Mission Continues donor list.”
The report inspired Democrats to file a complaint with the state ethics commission arguing that the donor list should have been reported as an in-kind contribution to the Greitens campaign.
The ethics commission agreed that a violation of state law likely occurred and issued a consent order last week, which the governor and his attorney signed.
Greitens’ campaign has downplayed the significance of the incident, saying it was a minor violation that resulted from a “clerical error where a minor contribution wasn’t reported on a campaign finance report.”