JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) — Missouri Governor Eric Greitens could be facing a second felony charge after his attorney general’s office uncovered possible criminal violations by Greitens’ nonprofit charity, The Mission Continues.
Attorney General Joshua Hawley, a Republican, as is Greitens, said Tuesday that an investigation by his office uncovered evidence that Greitens may have committed a felony by using a charity donor list to solicit donations to fuel his 2016 campaign for governor.
Hawley said his office lacks jurisdiction, and turned it over to St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office for possible charges.
Gardner, a Democrat, is already involved in a contentious prosecution of Greitens for an invasion of privacy charge related to an affair to which Greitens has admitted.
“If proven, these acts could amount to the unauthorized taking and use of property, in this case, electronic property,” Hawley said at a news conference.
“Under Missouri law, this is known as computer tampering. And given the value of the list in question, it is a felony.”
Greitens wasted no time to attack Hawley — once a political ally — and Gardner.
“Fortunately for Josh, he’s better at press conferences than the law,” Greitens said in a statement. “Anyone who has set foot in a Missouri courtroom knows these allegations are ridiculous. Josh had turned ‘the evidence’ he claims to have over to St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner – a liberal prosecutor funded by George Soros who allegedly suborned perjury, falsified documents, and withheld evidence. We will dispense with these false allegations.”
Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, founded The Mission Continues in 2007, to empower veterans facing the challenges of adjusting to life at home.
Greitens left the charity in 2014. His attorney Jim Martins said in a statement that there is nothing close to wrongdoing.
“Eric built The Mission Continues from scratch, and he helped thousands of veterans by doing so,” Martin said. “The attorney general held a completely frivolous and inappropriate press conference on a non-issue.”
The Associated Press reported that Greitens may have used the charity list in October 2016.
At the time, Greitens was in a gubernatorial race with then-Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat. The AP reported that Greitens raised $2 million from donors who had given generously to The Mission Continues, but he denied using a donor list to solicit money.
Democrats filed a complaint with the Missouri Ethics Commission, accusing Greitens of receiving an in-kind campaign contribution without reporting it on campaign disclosure forms.
That complaint was settled in April 2017 with Greitens’ campaign fined $100.
In that settlement, Greitens’ campaign revised its filings to show that Danny Laub, Greitens’ first campaign manager, donated the list to the campaign on March 1, 2015. The in-kind contribution was valued at $600, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The Mission Continues has said it did not authorize use of the list or supply it to Greitens’ campaign. Doing so would jeopardize the charity’s tax-exempt status.
The Post-Dispatch reported in February that it was one of Greitens’ employees at The Greitens Group, Krystal Taylor, who forwarded The Mission Continues’ donor list to Laub and another staffer, Michael Hafner, on Jan. 6, 2015 — nearly two months before the campaign had said.
That report sparked a new round of speculation regarding Greitens’ ties to his former charity, and his use of a charity email address to arrange political meetings and his alleged use of a charity email list to promote his political aspirations.
Gardner’s office declined to comment on the evidence it has received.
“Yesterday, prosecutors in the Circuit Attorney’s Office met with members of the Attorney General’s team,” her office tweeted late Tuesday morning. “The AG’s team provided information they have gathered to us, and we are reviewing the evidence. We can’t discuss any specifics at this time, as the investigation is ongoing.”
But action from Gardner’s office has to happen soon. According to the Kansas City Star, the statute of limitations for these allegations is April 22, so charges would have to be filed by Friday.