Government & Politics

Greitens campaign adviser linked to nonprofit that funded attacks against GOP rivals

Gov. Eric Greitens’ top 2016 campaign adviser has revealed ties to a nonprofit that funneled $4 million through a Kansas-based PAC to attack the governor’s GOP rivals last year.
Gov. Eric Greitens’ top 2016 campaign adviser has revealed ties to a nonprofit that funneled $4 million through a Kansas-based PAC to attack the governor’s GOP rivals last year.

In the lead up to last year’s Republican gubernatorial primary, Eric Greitens got a $4 million boost from a federal political action committee called LG PAC.

Based in Kansas, LG PAC spent heavily on TV ads lambasting Greitens’ rivals for the nomination. It was later revealed all of LG PAC’s money came from a nonprofit called Freedom Frontier that isn’t required to disclose its donors.

Both Greitens and LG PAC vehemently denied at the time that there was any connection or coordination.

But a mandatory financial disclosure form filed by Greitens’ top 2016 campaign adviser raises serious questions about their denial.

Nick Ayers, who now works as Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, revealed on his executive branch financial disclosure form that he was paid by both Freedom Frontier and the Greitens campaign through his Georgia-based consulting firm, C5 Creative Consulting Inc.

The connection between Ayers and Freedom Frontier was first reported Monday afternoon by the government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

LG PAC’s involvement in the 2016 Republican primary drew fire from both sides of the political aisle last summer.

Missouri Democrats eventually filed a complaint with the Missouri Ethics Commission arguing that if there was coordination between the Greitens campaign and LG PAC, then the campaign should have been forced to disclose the TV ads as in-kind donations.

A second complaint said the campaign and LG PAC violated the law by attempting to conceal where the money paying for the TV ads actually came from.

Both complaints were dismissed by the ethics commission, which said it could find no evidence supporting the allegations.

When Ayers worked for Freedom Frontier, and whether that overlapped with last year’s gubernatorial campaign, is not clear. The financial disclosure form only requires him to report sources of income that paid him more than $5,000 since 2015.

On the federal disclosure form, Ayers also revealed his firm was paid by A New Missouri Inc., the controversial political nonprofit founded by Greitens’ political team and run by Greitens’ senior adviser Austin Chambers.

Asked about the connection between Ayers and Freedom Frontier, Chambers said in an email to The Star, “The campaign didn’t coordinate with any of the outside groups, or anyone affiliated with any of the outside groups.”

While LG PAC was the biggest spender of so-called “dark money” during Greitens’ 2016 campaign, it was hardly alone.

Greitens also accepted a $1.9 million donation from another federal political action committee called SEALs for Truth.

Just like LG PAC, all of SEALs for Truth’s money came from a nonprofit — the Kentucky-based American Policy Coalition Inc.

Greitens has denied any knowledge of where that money originated, despite the fact that he admitted speaking with SEALs for Truth’s treasurer, Nicholas Britt.

Britt went through Navy SEAL training with Greitens.

Democrats were quick to pounce on the connection between a Greitens adviser and a secretive nonprofit.

“Eric Greitens — who has secretly hidden his tax receipts, personal campaign slush fund and official government correspondence — is quickly proving to be the most corrupt insider politician in a state full of corruption,” said Stephen Webber, chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party.

Ayers could not be immediately reached for comment.

Jason Hancock: 573-634-3565, @J_Hancock

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