Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is collaborating in the creation of a bogus nonprofit “social welfare” organization clearly designed to provide unfiltered propaganda about his political agenda.
The nonprofit could collect unlimited anonymous contributions from donors seeking influence in the state. It is an insult to Missouri voters.
We feel so strongly about the governor’s lack of transparency and repeated attempts to evade the Missouri news media that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Kansas City Star are publishing this joint editorial, hoping Greitens will change course.
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March 12-18 is Sunshine Week, when American news organizations remind the public — and public servants — about the importance of accountability and transparency as backbones of a properly functioning democracy.
Missourians understand this. They demand to know who is buying influence with their politicians.
In November, 70 percent of Missourians approved constitutional Amendment 2. The ballot measure plainly states the public interest is best served by limiting campaign contributions, fully disclosing political fundraising and spending, and enforcing the state’s campaign finance laws.
Now, barely four months later, a dark money committee has been established that Greitens can use to thumb his nose at the voters’ will. His senior adviser, Austin Chambers, had the gall to tell The Star that the only people who care about transparency are “reporters and Democratic operatives.”
He forgot about the 1,894,870 Missourians who voted “yes” on Amendment 2.
The dark money group, called A New Missouri Inc., is worrisome enough. But the governor’s campaign accepted nearly $2 million in a dark money donation from an obscure group, and he has to date hidden the donors to his inaugural.
This pattern of secret fundraising and secret spending is clear, disturbing and unacceptable.
We’d like to ask the governor about this. So far, no luck. Save for a very brief and short-circuited March 2 news conference, he has assiduously ducked Missouri reporters and stonewalled inquiries almost since his inauguration. Security staffers block reporters from getting close to him with microphones and notebooks.
He has spoken to hand-picked audiences. He has gone on Facebook Live to answer innocuous inquiries from supporters. But real questions, from real journalists? No.
He’s betting Missourians don’t care.
A reminder: Greitens campaigned against “corrupt career politicians” in Jefferson City. He has emphasized minor reforms such as eliminating lobbyist-paid meals — even as dark money contributions open the door to secret influence on an epic scale.
We offer the General Assembly some advice: Pass the governor’s ethics reform proposals but attach an amendment requiring all nonprofit social welfare groups in Missouri to publicly disclose their donations and spending on a quarterly basis.
Then dare Greitens to veto that bill. We’ll soon know if his commitment to ethics reform is real.
In honor of Sunshine Week, we also hope Greitens summons the courage to hold a full-blown news conference. Missourians want more than a Facebook governor.
The Kansas City Star and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch are publishing this joint editorial urging transparency and accountability from Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and calling for an end to his reliance on anonymous contributions.