Government & Politics

Greitens’ legal woes entangle political advisers with ties to Pence’s chief of staff

Vice President Mike Pence and Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens walked through the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Mo., on Feb. 22, 2017, after vandals overturned more than 150 headstones.
Vice President Mike Pence and Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens walked through the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Mo., on Feb. 22, 2017, after vandals overturned more than 150 headstones. File photo

Two political advisers with close ties to Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff are named repeatedly in a report accusing Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens of knowingly falsifying a settlement document with the state ethics committee, a class A misdemeanor.

Mike Adams is a lawyer who represents Pence’s political action committee and Austin Chambers is a protege of Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers, who was Greitens’ top campaign consultant in 2016. Adams also represented the Republican Governors Association during the time Ayers served as the group’s executive director from 2007 to 2011.

Both Adams and Chambers were involved in the allegedly falsified settlement agreement that was the centerpiece of a scathing report released Wednesday by a bipartisan investigative committee in the Missouri House.

The committee announced late Wednesday that it will issue subpoenas to “appropriate persons” within the Greitens campaign but offered no specifics of who that might be.

Adams and Chambers, who deny any wrongdoing, have not spoken to the committee.

The report does not mention Ayers, but his name comes up a handful of times in the report’s transcripts, mostly related to the timing of his work for the campaign and some emails he exchanged with former Greitens campaign manager Danny Laub on election night, which Laub described as containing routine pleasantries.

The Kansas City Star has no information indicating that Ayers is suspected of any wrongdoing or is the target of any investigation, or that Pence is in any way involved.

Ayers has not been contacted by investigators. He was a consultant to the campaign but wasn’t on the actual campaign staff.

The settlement agreement at the heart of the House report was negotiated, signed and initialed by Adams, Greitens’ campaign attorney at the time. Adams now serves as legal counsel to Great America Committee, Pence’s Leadership PAC. He is running as a Republican candidate for Kentucky secretary of state.

Greitens also signed the settlement, which states that his campaign obtained a veterans’ charity donor list as an in-kind donation from Laub. But Laub says that’s not true. He accuses one of the governor’s top aides, Chambers, of duping him into taking the blame in the settlement document during a phone call on April 24, 2017.

Laub said when he reviewed the settlement agreement, he felt that Chambers had misled him.

Chambers, who denies the allegations, worked at the time for C5 Creative Consulting, a political consulting firm founded by Ayers.

“Nick is not aware of any of this, nor was he involved, which is why the House findings report didn’t even mention him,” said Alyssa Farah, Pence spokeswoman, in a statement.

Ayers ran C5 in April 2017, when the phone call between Chambers and Laub reportedly took place and the settlement was reached. But he stopped running the firm in July 2017, when he began working for Pence.

Ayers has since sold the company, a development that will be reflected in the financial disclosure form he files in May, according to the vice president’s office.

Records with the Georgia Secretary of State's Office show that C5 was dissolved as a corporation on Wednesday, the same day the Missouri House investigative report came out.

C5 got a check from Greitens' campaign as recently as Feb. 23, 2018, the day after a St. Louis grand jury indicted the governor on a felony charge of invasion of privacy. The check reimbursed Chambers $2,800 for travel expenses to and from Lincoln Day events.

In addition to his job at C5, Chambers serves as Greitens’ senior political adviser and runs his nonprofit, A New Missouri Inc.

In a statement Wednesday night, Chambers dismissed Laub as “a disgruntled former employee” and said his testimony is inaccurate.

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“In the course of responding to a complaint filed by the former state Democratic Party Chairman, the campaign found that the donor list in question was in Laub's possession when the campaign was formed,” Chambers said in a statement. “This was supported by records retained by the campaign.”

Chambers said that before settling with the ethics commission, “I relayed this finding to Laub in a brief phone conversation. 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.”

Laub testified in the House report that he and Greitens brought Ayers in to serve as the campaign’s general strategist sometime close to early summer of 2015, and that Ayers brought in Chambers to help. Chambers was Greitens' campaign manager in 2016.

Adams has been general counsel to the Republican Governors Association since 2007, overlapping with Ayers. Adams' law firm bio notes that he counsels and represents candidates, issue groups, donors, political consultants and PACs, including Pence’s PAC.

In 2017, he represented Greitens in the complaint filed by Democratic operative Roy Temple with the Missouri Ethics Commission about the campaign's use of The Mission Continues donor list.

In an April 9 rebuttal to the complaint, Adams wrote that there was no evidence in the complaint that contradicted the Greitens campaign's assertion that it had received the charity donor list from Laub.

Newly released testimony by Greitens former executive assistant in the Missouri House report alleges that Greitens instructed her to send the donor list to his political team.

Laub emphasized in the House report that he wanted to be clear "that this is not my handwriting" on the settlement. He said he has no idea who wrote his name and other details in the document.

In an email to The Kansas City Star before the release of the report on Wednesday, Adams said the campaign worked in good faith with the ethics commission for months to resolve the matter.

“Any notion that the campaign — through an adviser, an attorney, or anyone else — would intentionally mislead the ethics commission is simply false,” Adams said.

Greitens has long promoted a close relationship with Pence. Pence campaigned in Missouri for Greitens in 2016, and he traveled to the state in February 2017 to help Greitens clean up a vandalized Jewish cemetery. The two also met when Greitens was in D.C. for an RGA event with other governors in January 2017.

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