Eric Greitens sworn in as Missouri's 56th governor
Gov. Eric Greitens said Thursday that he has no plan to release details on how much money corporations and lobbyists donated to fund his inaugural festivities.
And earlier in the day, his office sent a letter to state Rep. Greg Razer, a Kansas City Democrat, refusing his request for information on privately funded flights taken by the governor for official state purposes. Greitens doesn’t use the state plane, relying instead on private and campaign funds to pay for travel around the country.
Thus far, Greitens hasn’t provided any details on who is paying for that travel, despite Razer’s formal request for the information last month.
During his first Missouri Capitol news conference since he took office Jan. 9, Greitens said he has already released a list of “benefactors” who paid for his inauguration. On the list are some of the state’s largest companies and high-profile Jefferson City lobbyists, most of whom have business before the legislature that Greitens may one day have to either sign or veto.
Asked whether he plans to follow the tradition of former governors and disclose how much was raised, how much was spent and how much each donor contributed, Greitens demurred.
“On inauguration day we released a list of our benefactors and all the people who contributed to the inauguration,” Greitens said. “Happy to take another look at that, but we’re pretty confident that we’ve got that list out there.”
He continued: “The plan we have is to release the list that we’ve released.”
As for his travel costs, Greitens’ senior adviser told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that some of the privately funded travel costs could be considered a donation, which he would then have to disclose on the personal financial disclosure form he’ll be required to file next year. Other costs could be reported to the Missouri Ethics Commission on quarterly campaign finance filings.
Razer said the governor’s refusal to make the information public raises serious concerns.
“If there’s nothing to hide, why not just come out and say who’s paying for your flights?” Razer said. “Large amounts of money are coming into this administration to pay for things, and we don’t know who’s paying for it. Who is bankrolling the system?”
Thursday’s news conference was part of the Missouri Press Association’s annual gathering at the Capitol. Among other topics, the governor said he would be taking a long look at three candidates from whom he must choose to fill a vacant seat on the Missouri Supreme Court.
Greitens also voiced his support for legislation aimed at expanding choice options for public school students, and he said he hoped public universities and colleges could trim their budgets without resorting to a tuition hike.