Government & Politics

Complaint alleges Greitens lied about charity donor list on campaign disclosures

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens

A complaint filed Wednesday with the Missouri Ethics Commission alleges that Gov. Eric Greitens lied on his finance disclosure reports about how and when his campaign acquired a donor list belonging to a veterans charity.

Former Missouri Democratic Party chairman Roy Temple filed the complaint Wednesday. It follows a complaint he filed in 2016 alleging the governor failed to disclose that his campaign had obtained a list of donors to The Mission Continues, a charity Greitens founded in 2007.

As a result of Temple's 2016 complaint, Greitens agreed to pay a $100 fine and amend his campaign disclosure reports 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.

The Mission Continues has been adamant that it did not — and would not — give Greitens’ campaign or any campaign its donor list. Doing so could violate federal law and put the charity’s tax-exempt status at risk. The charity has been equally unwavering in saying that it doesn’t even know who Daniel Laub is.

A report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last month disputes Greitens’ explanation. Emails the paper obtained show Greitens’ former assistant sent The Mission Continues donor list to Laub and another campaign staffer two months earlier than what the governor said in his settlement with the ethics commission.

“Accordingly, Greitens misled the Missouri Ethics Commission and filed a 'purposefully' false campaign finance report, a criminal violation of the law,” Temple said in the new complaint.

Temple also pointed to reports that the Greitens campaign appeared to have used an email list belonging to the charity that was never disclosed.

New York Times reporter Ben Casselman has said that after he donated to The Mission Continues in 2012, he began getting campaign-related emails from Greitens. His experience is similar to that of another source that provided The Star emails showing he’d signed up for email updates from The Mission Continues in 2010, then began getting fund-raising emails from the Greitens campaign in 2015.

Michael Adams, Greitens' campaign attorney, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying, "We look forward to yet another dismissal of a spurious complaint by Roy Temple."

The ethics commission does not comment on complaints or investigations.

The controversy began in 2016, when The Associated Press obtained an Excel spreadsheet labeled “All donors $1K total and up — as of 5-7-14.”

The list included more than 500 names, along with email addresses and phone numbers, for individuals who had given at least $1,000 to the charity. Those included on the list had combined to give the charity roughly $4.7 million in contributions.

The list also included names and contact information for foundations that gave an additional $4 million and corporations that gave more than $20 million.

The spreadsheet’s properties showed it was created by an employee of The Mission Continues on May 6, 2014, shortly before Greitens stepped down as CEO. It was last saved 10 months later, on March 24, 2015, by a member of Greitens’ gubernatorial exploratory committee.

Donors who had previously given significant amounts to The Mission Continues gave Greitens nearly $2 million. Of the more than $525,000 Greitens raised during an initial two-month period of his campaign in early 2015, the AP found 85 percent came from donors who previously gave to The Mission Continues.

The Star reported last month that a former Greitens campaign aide at the center of questions surrounding the campaign’s use of a charity’s donor list was talking to the St. Louis prosecutor’s office as part of its criminal investigation of the governor.

The news suggests that the inquiry has broadened to include activities by Greitens' campaign.

Revelations about Greitens' use of charity resources inspired an investigation by Attorney General Josh Hawley last month. And rumors abound that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, is also investigating the charity.

His office would neither confirm nor deny the existence of a probe.

Meanwhile, The Mission Continues sent out a letter to supporters saying it "did not provide, nor authorize any use of our donors’ information to the Greitens campaign or any persons or groups for political or campaign purposes."

The letter added: “Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the Greitens campaign’s action is the disruption it has created."

Eric Greitens' political career is intertwined with the rise of "dark money" in Missouri. This video was originally published May 24, 2017.