Missouri Ethics Commission: ‘No Evidence of Any Wrongdoing’ by Former Governor Greitens

In this Thursday, May 17, 2018 file photo, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens waves to supporters as he walks to the podium to announce the release of funds for the state's biodiesel program in Jefferson City, Mo. The Missouri Senate is backing an effort to make it harder to impeach and …
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

The Missouri Ethics Commission released its long awaited report Thursday into allegations of election law violations by former Governor Eric Greitens and concluded they found “no evidence of any wrongdoing by Greitens.”

“It is good to have been exonerated,” Greitens told Fox 2 St. Louis on Thursday.

“I am really glad that we were vindicated. And I am grateful that the truth is finally coming out,” he continued.

Greitens described the complaint by former State Rep. Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson) as “lawyer politicians who are making false accusations.”

“I think what’s nice now is everybody knows and everybody can see, that’s exactly what this was,” the former governor added.

You can watch the complete interview here:

“Eric Greitens is and always has been innocent of these false accusations. Our contention from the beginning was that the accusations against Mr. Greitens were baseless,” Catherine Hanaway, who ran against Greitens in the 2016 Republican primary for governor and was part of his defense team, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Overall, the MEC issued 23 subpoenas, conducted 20 interviews, and reviewed roughly 8,000 documents, emails and videos. Over the last two years the Greitens campaign incurred costs of over $1.3 million defending against the allegation,” Greitens defense team said after the report was released, KOMU reported.

Elected governor in November 2016, Greitens’ term in office was derailed by a series of investigations and allegations that began in January 2018 when it was revealed that he had an extramarital relationship in 2015 prior to his election as governor. Greitens resigned as governor on June 1, 2018.

The commission also fined Greitens’ campaign $178,000 for reporting violations, but concluded that Greitens himself had no knowledge of those violations. The campaign must pay $38,000 of this amount within 45 days, and the balance due will be stayed indefinitely so long as the Greitens campaign has no further reporting violations.

The reporting violations were for failure to disclose “in-kind contributions” of radio and television campaign ads in support of Greitens’ successful 2016 campaign for governor by two entities: LG PAC and A New Missouri.

“During a conference call with reporters, Greitens’ attorneys, Charlie Spies and Catherine Hanaway, characterized the two violations as fairly routine infractions,” St. Louis Public Radio reported on Thursday:

“I mean, these are really meat-and-potatoes kind of campaign reporting violations,” said Hanaway, who was one of Greitens’ GOP rivals in the 2016 primary.

When asked how Greitens could consider himself exonerated while signing a consent order that admitted to two campaign finance violations, Hanaway said, “Neither the statute nor the consent decree says it’s the candidate’s responsibility to know what’s going on.”

“The way the statute reads, the candidate is held ultimately responsible,” Hanaway said. “In fact, in the consent decree the commission said it concluded he did not know. So, look: The way the statute is written in Missouri, there is no knowledge requirement. The commission said he didn’t know. He didn’t know. So he is personally exonerated from any wrongdoing with respect to his campaign.”

Hanaway said the $38,000 will be paid to the commission in short order.

Notably, the report, which included a consent order jointly agreed to by the Missouri Ethics Commission and Greitens, allows Greitens to pursue further legal action:

Nothing in this document is intended to nor shall it be interpreted to limit the civil or criminal remedies that may be available to Governor Greitens. (emphasis added)

With the release of the MEC report on Thursday, Greiten has now been cleared in all three investigations that arose from his conduct as governor.

First, Greitens was indicted on charges of felony invasion of privacy by a grand jury convened by George Soros-backed St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner in February 2018. Those charges were dropped for lack of evidence in May 2018. The lead investigator hired by Gardner to pursue those allegations against Greitens, William Tisaby, was subsequently indicted on seven counts of perjury by a special prosecutor. His trial will begin next month. As Breitbart News reported, Gardner has been deposed in that case, and is enmeshed in her own controversies.

Subsequently, Gardner filed a criminal complaint against Greitens on charges of felony computer tampering in April 2018. Those charges were dropped for lack of evidence in June 2018.

Finally, Barnes, a member of the same party as Greitens but a political opponent, filed a complaint with the Missouri Election Commission on July 10, 2018 that launched the investigation that has now been completed, alleging that “A New Missouri,” the non-profit that provided the unreported in-kind contributions to Greitens for Missouri, constituted “a criminal enterprise.”

From February 2018 until shortly after Greitens’ resignation, Barnes chaired an oversight committee of the Missouri House of Representatives that investigated Greitens’ conduct as governor, as KCUR reported on June 29, 2018:

In a letter sent Monday to members of the House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight, chairman Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, said that the House does not have “inherent authority to investigate anything it wants.”

“The question is not whether further investigation is warranted,” he said. “Instead, it is whether this committee is the appropriate governmental entity for such an investigation.”

To that end, Barnes told committee members that he is planning to file a complaint with the Missouri Ethics Commission next week against A New Missouri and Greitens for Missouri, and to let him know if any of them would like to add their names to the complaint.

He specifically called out A New Missouri in his letter, calling it “a criminal enterprise from its inception – designed to illegally skirt donation limits and conceal the identities of major donors to Eric Greitens and ballot initiatives relating to right to work that were supported by the former governor.” (emphasis added)

A New Missouri is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization formed in 2016 to promote Greitens’ agenda as governor.

Barnes repeated the claim that A New Missouri was “a criminal enterprise” in the complaint he filed two weeks later with the Missouri Ethics Commission on July 10, 2018, as CNN reported Thursday:

Barnes had publicly claimed that Greitens’ not-for-profit, A New Missouri, amounted to a “criminal enterprise” — and had filed a complaint in July 2018 with 235 pages of supporting documentation, alleging improper campaign contributions and a scheme to conceal donors. Aside from the instances of unreported in-kind contributions that were confirmed Thursday by the commission, however, the other most scandalous claims were dismissed.

One complaint, that Greitens had commenced campaign activities before establishing his committee, was rejected because it fell outside of the commission’s scope, which was limited to possible violations within two years prior to the complaint. In assessing the other allegations, however, the commission found no evidence of violations.

Barnes served eight years in the Missouri House of Representatives, and was term limited out in 2018. He chose not to run for the State Senate at that time, or any other political office in the future, as the News Tribune reported:

“I have no intention to run for any other political office, ever,” Barnes said. “I don’t want any other job in politics.” . . .

“I’ve joined a national law firm, called ‘Simmons Hanly Conroy‘ — over the past nine years, I’ve been involved in a number of consumer class action (lawsuits), with a focus on consumer privacy,” Barnes explained. “It’s really hard to do that kind of work in a law firm with one to three lawyers.

“So, I’ve joined a larger law firm as a shareholder, and am working on the same kind of cases, there. We represent consumers who have been wronged.”

Barnes’ biography at the website of Simmons Hanley Conroy touts his role in the investigation of Greitens, which has now ended in what Greitens calls “complete exoneration.”

In early 2018, Jay’s focus was largely focused with the investigation into Greitens’ misconduct. After the former governor’s resignation, Jay received praise for his bipartisan professionalism that led him to uncover the truth. (emphasis added)

In an editorial published in the Kansas City Star, the paper’s editors were quick to bolster this praise.

“Rep. Jay Barnes and other members of the committee he led deserved special credit for handling this difficult task with complete professionalism […] Missourians owe a debt to Barnes, and all the members of the Greitens committee, for their hard work, seriousness of purpose, transparency and bipartisan approach,” the editorial read.

Breitbart News contacted former State Rep. Barnes for comment on the release of the MEC report, but has not yet received a response.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Gardner, who initiated the first investigation into Greitens in January 2018, now  has troubles of her own, as Breitbart News reported in January:

The conduct of a George Soros-backed Democrat prosecutor in Missouri is under review for potential prosecutorial misconduct regarding her role in forcing former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican, out of office two years ago. . .

On June 29, 2018, just three weeks after Greitens resigned as governor, attorney Gerard Carmody was appointed as a special prosecutor by St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Michael Mullen to investigate the conduct of former FBI agent William Tisaby, who was hired by Gardner in January 2018 to conduct the investigation on which she based her failed prosecution of Greitens.

Shortly after the grand jury that indicted Tisaby finished its term in July 2019 without bringing additional charges against anyone else involved in the Greitens investigation Special Prosecutor Carmody released a statement confirming that his investigation was not over, and that he was empowered to continue the investigation and convene a new grand jury if needed, as the Associated Press reported . . .

On January 13, Circuit Attorney Gardner filed a bizarre lawsuit claiming she was the victim of systemic racial prejudice, as the Associated Press reported:

Tisaby’s trial is now scheduled to begin on March 30.

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