Government & Politics

Democrats call for federal investigation into $1.9 million donation to Eric Greitens

Republican Eric Greitens accepted a $1.9 million donation from a political action committee called SEALs for Truth, but where the money actually came from is unknown.
Republican Eric Greitens accepted a $1.9 million donation from a political action committee called SEALs for Truth, but where the money actually came from is unknown.

Missouri Democrats want the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether a $1.9 million donation to Eric Greitens’ gubernatorial campaign violated federal law.

A political action committee called SEALs for Truth cut Greitens a $1.9 million check prior to the Aug. 2 Republican primary. The group was formed one month before making the donation, which at the time it was the largest single contribution to a candidate in Missouri history.

Greitens said repeatedly that the money came from former Navy SEALs looking to support his candidacy. In a statement released by SEALs for Truth shortly after making its donation, the group claimed former Navy SEALs made up “the largest number of donors to our organization.”

The group wasn’t required to disclose its donors until last week. It turns out that the money came from a Kentucky-based nonprofit called the American Policy Coalition Inc. Little is known about the American Policy Coalition, but it is connected to an Ohio attorney whom the Center for Public Integrity labeled the “nexus of one of the nation’s most mysterious networks pouring secret money into elections.”

And because it’s a nonprofit, it doesn’t have to reveal where its money came from.

“In Missouri, you can take as much money as you want from whoever you want, yet someone went to great lengths to make this donation to Eric Greitens secret,” Roy Temple, chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party, told reporters on a conference call Tuesday afternoon.

The only reason for the secrecy, Temple surmised, is that the money either came from “someone Greitens should be deeply ashamed of taking money from, or it’s from a source that would be prohibited by other relevant law.”

“The SEC’s pay-to-play rule prohibits doing indirectly through other entities what you can’t do directly,” Temple said. “So today, we’re asking the SEC to investigate whether this dark-money contribution to Eric Greitens came from a source prohibited under pay-to-play rules.”

In an interview with The Star last week, Greitens said he’s only ever spoken with the treasurer of SEALs for Truth, Nick Britt.

Britt, Greitens said, went through Navy SEAL training with him.

“I know from him that he was reaching out to SEALs and asking them to invest in the campaign,” Greitens told The Star. “The specifics of their filing and how they did that and what they’re disclosing, you’d have to ask them. I don’t know all the guys, so I can’t speak to their motivation. I suspect there might be Navy SEALs on active duty who don’t want to publicly be involved in politics.”

Britt did not respond to a request for comment.

Greitens faces Democrat Chris Koster in the Nov. 8 race for Missouri governor. Greitens’ campaign said the call for an investigation by Demcorats was “just a feeble attempt to try to steer attention away from Koster’s proven history of corruption.”

Jason Hancock: 573-634-3565, @J_Hancock