The scandals surrounding Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens involve a range of allegations, from coercive sexual encounters and electronic theft to lying to state officials and ignoring records retention laws.
But an old adage offers guidance: Follow the money.
Money’s role in the Greitens affair was a central issue this week. The governor’s lawyers said web publisher Scott Faughn provided $50,000 to the attorney for the ex-husband of the woman at the center of the privacy case.
Greitens’ supporters were outraged. They said the payment reflects a political vendetta against the governor.
“We hope that the House Committee will investigate the payoffs of the people who are working to take down the governor,” said a statement from a spokeswoman for Greitens’ legal defense team.
This is a great idea. So good, in fact, it shouldn’t be limited to money raised and spent by the governor’s opponents.
Instead, the Missouri House should investigate all of the secret money sloshing around the governor’s office — including the governor’s relationship to dark money political funds.
While they’re at it, investigators should take a look at the governor’s purchase of a vacation home and who pays for his travel.
Missourians should know exactly how much private money has been raised for Greitens’ legal bills, public relations efforts and other expenses. Who is providing the cash? Who is getting it?
Has the governor promised any favors to donors trying to protect him from time in prison? Do wealthy supporters expect something from the governor in return for financing his travel?
To be sure, the $50,000 linked to Faughn is concerning. There are suggestions the donation may be related to Greitens’ opposition to low-income housing tax credits in the state.
House investigators — and prosecutors — should look for any such link. If evidence in produced, the state can act accordingly.
Broadly, though, Missouri voters should understand that the corrupting influence of campaign money remains a serious problem in the state.
The use of dark money groups known as 501(c)(4)s continues in Missouri. The groups can raise money secretly, obscuring any connection between the government and political benefactors.
There is evidence secret nonprofits played a role in the 2016 governor’s race, which included Greitens.
Continued use of dark money entities gives the lie to the governor’s repeated calls for ethics reform in Missouri.
Greitens’ supporters want the sun to shine on their opponents. We want the sun to shine everywhere in Missouri government, including the governor’s office.