Government & Politics

Greitens is no longer governor. But his campaign is still spending big bucks

Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens
Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens

Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ campaign committee spent nearly $1.4 million over the last three months, mostly on media and legal fees.

Despite all that spending, revealed Monday on disclosure forms filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Greitens’ campaign still reports having $1.1 million cash on hand as of July 1.

Also Monday, the nonprofit formed by Greitens allies to raise and spend money to cover his legal expenses disclosed to the Internal Revenue Service that it raised only $65,000 and paid $20,000 to Greitens’ criminal defense lawyers and another $20,000 for a private investigator.

The biggest chunk of the campaign’s spending went to three companies — Something Else Strategies, Bask Digital Media and Target Enterprises — that have previously been associated with Nick Ayers. The campaign paid the companies a total of around $650,000 in April, May and June.

Ayers, who is Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, was accused in a recent ethics complaint against Greitens’ campaign and dark money nonprofit of violating Missouri’s campaign finance laws while he was serving as Greitens’ top political consultant in 2016.

He denies any allegations of wrongdoing. Ayers has not been affiliated with any of the three companies paid by Greitens’ campaign since he began working for the vice president.

Nick Ayers Don McGahn.jpg
Nick Ayers (left), Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, and Don McGahn, the White House counsel, watch as President Donald Trump speaks after signing an executive order on immigrant family separations on June 20. The New York Times

Greitens’ campaign also paid $58,000 to Jimmy Soni, his former communications adviser. That includes an $8,000 check the day before Greitens resigned from office and $18,000 after he resigned, all for “communications services.”

Soni was a controversial hire for the governor’s office because on allegations that he was forced to resign as editor of the Huffington Post after being investigated by the publication’s corporate parent, AOL, for sexual harassment involving interns. He left the Greitens administration after four months.

Husch Blackwell LLP, the law firm of former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, was paid $550,000 by the Greitens campaign. Hanaway served as attorney for both the Greitens campaign and his dark-money nonprofit, A New Missouri Inc.

The campaign also paid the law firm of Chalmers Burch & Adams LLC around $47,000. One of the firms partners, Michael Adams, was among the group of Greitens advisers who founded A New Missouri Inc.

Adams is seeking the GOP nomination for secretary of state in Kentucky.

Graves Garrett LLC, a Kansas City-based law firm, was paid a little more than $12,000. The law firm was founded by Todd Graves, chairman of the Missouri Republican Party and a longtime Greitens ally. One of its attorneys, Edward Greim, was hired by the governor’s office to help stave off impeachment.

The state has refused to pay Greim, saying his work was on behalf of Greitens personally, not the office of governor.

The campaign also paid more than $15,000 over the three months to Scott Turk, who until February had been director of boards and commissions in the governor’s office.

As for the legal defense fund, called ERG Defense Fund, it reported $50,000 in contributions from McKinley Financial Partnership, a Michigan company that invests in and manages residential and commercial real estate nationwide.

It was founded by Ronald Weiser, a former U.S. ambassador and chairman of the Michigan GOP who helped create ERG Defense Fund (Greitens’ middle name is Robert).

The fund also got $5,000 from Shane Mayes, the CEO of Onshore Outsourcing, who allowed Greitens to use a private jet earlier this year to travel the state when the governor was hopscotching Missouri to tout his tax cut proposal.

The Dowd Bennett law firm, which was handling Greitens’ criminal defense against charges of felony computer tampering and invasion of privacy, was paid nearly $20,000. Metro One Investigation, a St. Louis private investigator, was also paid roughly $20,000.