Government & Politics

Subpoenas issued as part of investigation of Greitens' use of charity donor list

Gov. Eric Greitens’ use of the resources of a veteran’s charity for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign has prompted subpoenas by the Missouri attorney general, St. Louis prosecutor and a state House investigative committee, The Kansas City Star has learned.

The subpoenas indicate that investigations that initially focused on allegations of blackmail by the governor have expanded to include his political campaign finances.

Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office last week subpoenaed documents from The Mission Continues, a charity Greitens founded in 2007, as part of his probe under the consumer protection and charitable registration and reporting law.

Also seeking information from the charity is the St. Louis circuit attorney’s office, which is prosecuting Greitens for felony invasion of privacy, and a Missouri House committee investigating the governor as a first step toward possible impeachment.

The circuit attorney's office and the chairman of the House committee, Rep. Jay Barnes, declined comment Monday afternoon. A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office told The Star via email, "our investigation is very active and we will follow wherever the facts may lead.”

Laura L'Esperance, a spokeswoman for The Mission Continues, said Monday that the charity is cooperating with all document requests, declining to specify who has contacted the charity. She reiterated the charity's long-stated position that The Mission Continues did not and would not “authorize use of any materials or resources for the governor’s campaign.”

A spokesman for the governor’s legal defense team did not respond to a request for comment.

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 had 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.

Experts in nonprofit law previously told The Star that if someone took the list from the charity without permission and used it for personal or political purposes, that could be considered theft or embezzlement. The Star reported last month that a former Greitens campaign aide at the center of questions surrounding the donor list was talking to the St. Louis prosecutor’s office as part of its criminal investigation of the governor.

Greitens initially publicly denied that his campaign ever possessed the donor list. After a complaint was filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Greitens and his attorney signed a consent decree last year attesting that the list was given to his campaign in March 2015 as an in-kind donation from Daniel Laub, his campaign manager.

Yet 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.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported last month that 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.

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 who provided The Star emails showing he’d signed up for email updates from The Mission Continues in 2010, and then began getting fund-raising emails from the Greitens campaign in 2015.

Based on the new revelations, former Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Roy Temple filed a complaint with the state ethics commission last week.

A St. Louis grand jury in February indicted Greitens on a felony charge of invasion of privacy for allegedly taking a nude photo of a woman with whom he was having an affair. He has admitted the 2015 affair but denied that he threatened to use the photo to ensure her silence.