Government & Politics

Greitens lied about and misused charity donor list, report says

Hours after Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens gave his State of the State speech on Jan. 20, 2018, he and his wife issued a statement about an extramarital affair Greitens had in 2015.
Hours after Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens gave his State of the State speech on Jan. 20, 2018, he and his wife issued a statement about an extramarital affair Greitens had in 2015. syang@kcstar.com

Gov. Eric Greitens’ former campaign manager told the Missouri attorney general’s office that the governor knowingly lied to the state ethics commission about how he came to possess a donor list belonging to a veterans charity.

He also says he was tricked by the governor’s political advisers into taking the blame.

The allegations were included in a 23-page report released Wednesday afternoon by a Missouri House committee investigating alleged wrongdoing by the governor.

And it represents the latest in a growing set of accusations of criminal misconduct by Greitens, who already faces two felony charges in St. Louis and calls for his impeachment in Jefferson City.

In addition to allegations of misusing a charity's donor list and lying about it to the state ethics commission, the report accuses Greitens of running an off-the-books campaign operation in 2014 and early 2015, paying staff personally or through his private company instead of creating a campaign committee. State law requires candidates to form campaign committees if they spend more than $500.

Daniel Laub was one of Greitens’ first hires for his gubernatorial campaign and served as campaign manager during the campaign’s infancy in 2014. He told the attorney general’s office last month that he was duped into taking responsibility for the campaign’s acquiring the list.

In April 2017, in an effort to settle a complaint filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Greitens and his campaign attorney, Michael Adams, signed a consent decree stating that the campaign had failed to disclose that it had obtained a donor list belonging to The Mission Continues, a veterans charity Greitens founded in 2007.

Greitens’ campaign paid a $100 fine and agreed to amend its campaign filings to show that it received the charity’s donor list as an in-kind contribution from Laub in March 2015.

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.

According to a transcript of his deposition released Wednesday, Laub testified that everything about the explanation Greitens provided in the consent decree and campaign disclosure filing was a lie.

Laub said that he didn’t give the campaign the list, that the campaign didn’t receive it on March 1 and that while his name was on the consent decree, he wasn’t the one who wrote it there.

Filing a false campaign disclosure report would be a Class A misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of one year in jail. The attorney general’s office asked Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson last week to consider filing criminal charges against Greitens, but Richardson has made no public statement.

Catherine Hanaway, legal counsel for Greitens' campaign, said in a statement that the House report "does a tremendous disservice to the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions."

Hanaway said the committee didn't talk to anyone from the campaign or issue subpoenas for campaign employees, leaving accusations unchallenged and painting a one-sided and inaccurate portrait of events.

"This is, at its core, a minor campaign finance issue," Hanaway said.

'Affirmatively misled'

The House committee report lays out a timeline purporting to show that the Greitens campaign came into possession of the donor list on Jan. 6, 2015, when Krystal Proctor, Greitens’ assistant at his company the Greitens Group, sent it to Laub and another campaign staffer, Michael Hafner.

Proctor testified to the House committee that she sent the Mission Continues donor list to Laub and Hafner at Greitens' direction. She also testified that “there was no confusion” that the list was going to be used by his campaign.

Proctor testified to the Missouri attorney general that another employee at The Mission Continues, Lyndsey Hodges Reichardt, expressed misgivings about supplying donor information to Greitens.

“I don’t remember specifically what she said, but just that, you know, she didn’t know if it was — if it was necessary or appropriate — to be gathering this list and sending it to Eric,” Proctor testified.

Greitens instructed Proctor to share the donor list with campaign staffers after Greitens was no longer with The Mission Continues, she said.

Laub and Hafner testified that they used the list to create a campaign fundraising list.

In his initial meetings with Greitens, Laub testified, Greitens "was very bullish about his prospects of raising significant amounts of money, far exceeding the $10 million that I speculated that he needed to win" the primary. He said Greitens told him in their first meeting: "I think I can raise $50 million."

He said Greitens' experience as a fundraiser for The Mission Continues made him optimistic about being able to raise a lot of money because "he's raised significant amounts of large-dollar donations before."

The campaign wasn’t officially created until Feb. 25, 2015, when paperwork was filed with the ethics commission to create “Greitens for Missouri.”

The Associated Press broke the news that Greitens had used The Mission Continues donor list in October 2016. At the time, Greitens steadfastly denied that he had raised money using the charity’s donor list.

The revelation inspired Missouri Democrats to file a complaint with the Missouri Ethics Commission claiming Greitens should have divulged his use of the donor list on his campaign disclosure reports.

Laub testified that Austin Chambers, Greitens' senior adviser, called him on April 24, 2017, to discuss the ethics complaint.

Laub told the attorney general’s office that he and Chambers exchanged pleasantries: “And then Austin says to me, ‘I don’t know if you know this, but there’s a bullshit ethics complaint filed against us by the Democrat Party about this Mission Continues donor list.’ And he said, ‘I need someone who was on the campaign at the time, because I wasn’t, to put their name down so we can get this bullshit complaint dismissed.’ ”

Chambers told Laub the campaign would pay the fine, "but 'we need to put someone's name down who was on the campaign at the time, and I was not.' And he said, 'Can we put your name down?' ”

Laub testified that he said yes, but that he had "assumed it meant that I was the manager of the campaign at the time or in charge of the campaign at the time," not that he was agreeing to allow his name to be used in a legal document that would state that he gave the campaign the Mission Continues donor list as an in-kind donation.

Asked whether Chambers had stated or implied that he was offering any kind of benefit in exchange for using Laub's name to resolve the ethics complaint, Laub testified no, but that he hoped agreeing might help his political career.

"I believed, in my split-second decision of a brain, that it may have endeared myself to the consultants and Eric and may be a way of cooperating — with getting this bullshit complaint dismissed would have been a way to maybe mend that relationship; but that wasn't explicit," Laub said.

Laub testified that Chambers never offered to let him review the settlement agreement in which his name was used. Laub said he didn't read it until a week later when he started getting media calls.

He said the “whole document made [him] sick … because it was misrepresented [and] because [he] was in a round of news stories falsely portraying what happened.”

Laub told the committee that Chambers had “affirmatively misled” him. He said if he’d not been misled he “would never have agreed for it to be perceived or otherwise that I in-kinded a list that I did not in-kind.”

Chambers issued a statement Monday evening calling Laub a "disgruntled former employee" and saying his "testimony is inaccurate."

Chambers noted that he was not involved with or employed by the Greitens campaign during the time in question surrounding The Mission Continues donor list. He said he first learned of the issue regarding the donor list in fall 2016 when the AP wrote about it. In responding to the complaint filed with the ethics commission, he said the campaign determined that the list was in Laub's possession when the campaign was officially formed in February 2015.

"Prior to the settlement with the [Missouri Ethics Commission], I relayed this finding to Laub in a brief phone conversation," Chambers said. "Laub did not provide differing facts. To say that I provided false information, or misled Laub to go along with false information, is absolutely untrue."

When the attorney general’s office served Laub with a subpoena, he initially invoked his right against self-incrimination. Then the attorney general's office filed a petition to enforce the subpoena under Missouri law, compelling him to testify.

Because he was forced to testify over his objection, the statute grants Laub immunity for the matters about which he spoke under oath.

'No exceptions'

The attorney general’s office has been investigating Greitens’ use of The Mission Continues’ donor list since late February. Evidence from the attorney general’s investigation led the St. Louis prosecutor to charge Greitens last month with felony computer tampering, which is essentially electronic theft.

In reaction to the the computer tampering charge, Greitens’ defense attorneys said last month that the allegation that Greitens stole the donor list was “absurd.”

“Now he’s being accused of stealing an email list from an organization he built?” his criminal defense attorney, Ed Dowd, said at the time. “Give me a break. Not only did he create this list donor by donor, friend by friend, but the Mission Continues still has the list.”

Spencer Kympton, president of The Mission Continues, pushed back against the notion the donors on the list were all Greitens' friends. He said The Mission Continues partners that were on the list "came from a variety of different pathways to that relationship."

The House committee report includes a non-disclosure agreement Greitens signed with The Mission Continues in 2012 in which he agreed to hold in strict confidence “the identities of any donors or investors, and any personal information of donors or investors, and any contact information for donors or investors,” as well as any lists or databases.

In the nondisclosure form, Greitens agreed that “all intellectual property that is developed by [himself] during the time [he] is employed by The Mission Continues is the property of The Mission Continues.” He agreed never to use the charity’s intellectual property without written consent.

Greitens also signed the charity’s employee handbook, which specifically prohibited sharing confidential information with anyone outside the charity.

The committee’s report includes emails showing Greitens began considering a run for statewide office as early as October 2013, when a political consultant sent him an email that included a donor list for then-Auditor Tom Schweich’s political campaign.

On April 24, 2014, Greitens informed The Mission Continues that he would transition from CEO to a member of the board. In response, the charity asked Greitens to assure donors that the organization was on strong footing with a good plan for the future.

On May 8, 2014, one of the charity’s employees emailed Greitens and other charity leaders with “transition call” instructions for Greitens and five attachments, including a list of donors named “All donors 1K total and up – as of 5-7-14.xlsx.”

Kympton testified to the committee that the nondisclosure agreement Greitens signed applied to the donor list.

When asked if there was an exception to the nondisclosure for political activity, Kympton responded, “There are no exceptions.”

The Star's Steve Vockrodt and Allison Kite and McClatchy's Lindsay Wise contributed to this article.

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