The Buzz

Ethics complaints filed against Missouri’s Chris Koster and a D.C.-based PAC

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, the Democratic nominee for governor.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, the Democratic nominee for governor.

A pair of ethics complaints were filed this week alleging Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chris Koster and a political action committee violated Missouri law with attack ads targeting Republican Eric Greitens in the run-up to the GOP primary.

A Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit called the Foundation for Accountability & Civic Trust filed the complaints Tuesday targeting nearly $1 million of in-kind contributions reported in the week before the Republican primary to Koster from a PAC called “Jobs and Opportunity.” In-kind contributions are services or materials donated to a candidate instead of cash.

“Jobs and Opportunity” is affiliated with the Democratic Governors Association. The money was apparently used to buy TV and radio ads criticizing Greitens in the days before the Republican primary.

The ethics complaints contend the PAC violated Missouri law by not filing any of the required disclosure reports with the Missouri Ethics Commission. Additionally, the complaint points to state law prohibiting out-of-state committees from making contributions or expenditures within 30 days of an election.

The ads in question ran a week before the primary.

“Even had the contributions been disclosed, the short amount of time before the election prevented the public from adequately assessing the contributions,” the complaint said.

Andrew Whalen, Koster’s campaign manager, dismissed the complaint and pinned its origin on Greitens.

“It’s no surprise Eric Greitens would rely on a secretive, D.C.-based, dark money group to handle his dirty work for him, since he won’t disclose his largest donor and has funded his campaign from ethically challenged contributors,” Whalen said in a statement to The Star. “It’s even less surprising his supporters would file erroneous complaints since Eric doesn’t have a basic understanding of how Missouri’s government functions.”

Greitens’ campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The complaints come just a week after the chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party filed complaints with the Missouri Ethics Commission against Greitens and a pair of organizations that supported him during the GOP primary.

Tuesday’s complaints were filed by the president of the Foundation for Accountability & Civic Trust, Matthew Whitaker.

Whitaker is a former U.S. attorney under President George W. Bush who ran unsuccessfully for an Iowa seat in the U.S. Senate as a Republican in 2014. He’s gotten involved in Missouri politics before, when Whitaker’s organization filed an ethics complaint against Republican Kurt Schaefer in April alleging he misused his office and pressured the University of Missouri to block law professor Josh Hawley from seeking the Republican nomination for attorney general.

Hawley defeated Schaefer in the Republican attorney general primary earlier this month.