Report: Ex-Greitens aide describes being duped into fall guy

Report: Ex-Greitens aide describes being duped into fall guy
The Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former campaign aide to Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens testified that he was duped into taking the fall when the governor’s campaign was trying to explain how it had gotten a list of top donors to a veterans’ charity that Greitens had founded, according to legislative report released Wednesday.

The report from a special House investigatory committee indicates that Greitens himself had received the donor list of The Mission Continues for the purpose of calling key supporters and explaining that he was stepping down as CEO in 2014. It says Greitens later directed political aides to work off the charity’s list to raise money for his gubernatorial campaign — even though he had signed an agreement never to disclose the charity’s confidential donor information.

Transcripts of an aide’s testimony included with the report also indicate that Greitens’ campaign lied when it settled a Missouri Ethics Commission complaint last year by categorizing the charity list as an in-kind donation valued at $600 provided on March 1, 2015, by Daniel Laub, who had functioning as Greitens’ campaign manager.

“The whole document made me sick,” Laub said in an April 18 deposition included in the report. “One, because it was misrepresented; and two, because now I was in a round of news stories falsely portraying what happened.”

Greitens already faces a felony charge in St. Louis of tampering with computer data for allegedly disclosing a Mission Continues donor list to his political fundraiser in 2015 without the permission of the St. Louis-based charity. Greitens has not been charged with filing a false campaign report, but authorities are still reviewing the matter.

The first-term Republican governor also faces a May 14 trial in St. Louis on a felony invasion-of-privacy indictment for allegedly taking and transmitting a nonconsensual photo of an at least partially nude woman in March 2015. Greitens has acknowledged having a consensual affair with his former hairdresser but has denied criminal wrongdoing.

The February indictment related to sexual misconduct led the House to create an investigatory committee to evaluate whether to try to impeach and remove Greitens from office. The panel released an initial report April 11 with the woman’s testimony that Greitens restrained, slapped and threatened her during sexual encounters that at times left her crying and afraid.

The latest report, like the first one, simply lays forth facts without drawing conclusions about impeachment.

The Associated Press first reported in October 2016 that Greitens’ campaign had obtained a list of individuals, corporations and other nonprofit organizations that had given at least $1,000 to The Mission Continues. The AP reported that Greitens’ had raised about $2 million from those who had previously given significant amounts to the charity.

Asked about the overlap at the time, Greitens told the AP: “No, we were not working off of a Mission Continues donor list.” But Greitens acknowledged soliciting campaign money from some people he had gotten to know while working at the charity.

The House report indicates Greitens actually was working off a Mission Continues list of top donors that had been created for him to make phone calls explaining the charity’s transition in leadership. Email records show the donor list was emailed May 8, 2014, to Greitens and several other Mission Continues employees, including Krystal Taylor, who simultaneously worked for Greitens’ personal promotional company The Greitens Group. Taylor’s name is now Krystal Proctor.

Although federal law bars 501(c)(3) charities such as The Mission Continues from intervening in political campaigns on behalf of candidates, Greitens’ attorney has suggested that Greitens was entitled to the list because he built it “donor by donor, friend by friend.”

The Mission Continues president, Spencer Kympton, testified that the donor list was covered by a nondisclosure agreement signed by Greitens in November 2012.

The report details multiple instances in which Greitens allegedly directed the charity list to be shared for political purposes, including during meetings in October and December 2014 to discuss his upcoming gubernatorial campaign. Proctor said she also provided it at Greitens direction to Laub and political consultant Michael Hafner in January 2015. Hafner said he used the charity list to create a list of people for Greitens to call to raise money for his campaign.

When Meredith Gibbons was hired as Greitens’ campaign finance director, documents show that Proctor sent her an April 22, 2015, email with The Mission Continues donor list attached — a transmission that was the basis for the charge filed last month.

After the AP’s story in October 2016, former Democratic Party Chairman Roy Temple filed an ethics complaint about the charity list, which Greitens had not reported as a campaign contribution. The IRS has ruled charities can rent donor lists at fair market value if made available to all candidates, but The Mission Continues says it has not done so for any political entity.

Temple’s complaint led to a settlement with the Missouri Ethics Commission in April 2017 in which Greitens campaign agreed to pay a small fine and amended its finance reports to show the list as a donation from Laub.

In a deposition taken by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office and shared with the House committee, Laub testified that he wasn’t the source of the charity donor list and didn’t realize he was agreeing to say he was when Greitens’ campaign aide Austin Chambers called him in April 2017.

Laub said Chambers had explained that “we need to put someone’s name down who was on the campaign at the time” to settle an ethics complaint. Laub said he assumed he was agreeing to being listed as the campaign manager — not as the source of the list.

Chambers had taken over for Laub as campaign manager later in 2015. Chambers remains a top adviser to Greitens and has been involved in running A New Missouri, a nonprofit that raises money from secret sources to support Greitens’ agenda.

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