Editorials

Editorial: Missouri senators to Gov. Eric Greitens — come out of the shadows

Eric Greitens’ campaign for governor used a donor list from The Mission Continues, a veterans advocacy group, to solicit contributions for the 2016 governor’s race.
Eric Greitens’ campaign for governor used a donor list from The Mission Continues, a veterans advocacy group, to solicit contributions for the 2016 governor’s race. AP

Missourians deserve to know the full story behind Gov. Eric Greitens’ campaign fundraising and his continuing use of a secret, dark-money nonprofit to pay for his political activities.

They may be getting closer to that explanation.

Tuesday, six Missouri senators — four from Greitens’ own Republican party — called for an investigation of the governor.

Sen. Jason Holsman of Kansas City, a Democrat, introduced a resolution calling for a special committee to “investigate any misconduct, crimes, corruption in office, or any offense involving moral turpitude or oppression in office by Governor Greitens.”

A special investigative committee deserves bipartisan support in the Senate. Its members should approve the resolution before adjourning the current special session.

The special committee would focus on two issues: the campaign’s use of a fundraising list from a nonprofit called The Mission Continues and Greitens’ relationship with A New Missouri, a dark-money nonprofit subsidizing the governor’s current political activities.

As The Star explained this week, the Greitens campaign used a donor list from The Mission Continues, a veterans advocacy group, to solicit contributions for the 2016 governor’s race.

It isn’t clear how the campaign gained access to the list. Officials with The Mission Continues claim they didn’t provide it — giving the list to the campaign would threaten the group’s nonprofit status.

But if someone connected with the Greitens campaign took the list, that might be a crime.

The Missouri Ethics Commission said the use of the donor list was improper and fined the Greitens campaign. But its final report did not include a discussion of how the campaign acquired the list.

The special committee could take testimony and use subpoena power to understand exactly how candidate Greitens used his connection to The Mission Continues to benefit his political career.

The committee would also examine A New Missouri, the dark-money nonprofit Greitens associates have launched to raise money for attack ads against the governor’s political opponents.

The relationship between Greitens and the committee has become a cause for serious concern. Missourians deserve to know what private donors are giving money to a committee charged with furthering the governor’s career and whether those donors have interests involving the state’s government.

Missouri Republican chairman Todd Graves — increasingly, the chief apologist for Greitens — said Tuesday that the request for an investigation is a “baseless and ill-informed political stunt.”

There’s no question politics played a role in the call for an investigation. Friction between the governor and members of the state Senate is evident.

But Greitens shoulders much of the blame for that conflict. He routinely picks needless fights, accusing members of improper behavior without a hint of irony.

If the grounds for a probe are truly baseless, he has nothing to fear.

As it stands now, a cloud of suspicion casts a shadow on the state Capitol dome. The Missouri Senate and the governor himself have an opportunity to let the sunshine in, and they should take it.

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