Missouri AG Probing Beleaguered Gov’s Former Charity

Jeff Roberson/AP

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is investigating the veterans charity that scandal-plagued Gov. Eric Greitens founded eleven years ago.

“The Attorney General’s Office has an open inquiry into the charitable activities of The Mission Continues, pursuant to the AGO’s enforcement responsibilities under the consumer protection and charitable registration and reporting laws,” Loree Anne Paradise, Hawley’s deputy chief of staff, told TPM in a statement.

The news adds to the pressure on Greitens, who last week was indicted on a felony invasion of privacy charge for allegedly taking a nonconsensual partly nude photo of a woman with whom he carried out a 2015 affair. Greitens has denied allegations that he threatened to release the photo if the woman went public. His attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the case, which was brought by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, a Democrat.

Greitens, a Republican, left the charity, The Mission Continues, in 2014. But questions about his enduring ties to it date back to his 2016 election campaign. In October of that year, weeks before voters went to the polls, the Associated Press revealed an overlap between people who donated to his campaign and to the charity.

At the the time, Greitens, who was in a tight race, denied using the donor list for The Mission Continues to raise money for his campaign. Doing so would be a violation of federal campaign finance laws, which bar non-profits from engaging in political activity on behalf of a particular candidate, and require campaigns to report the use of this sort of list as an in-kind contribution.

Missouri Democrats filed a complaint with the state ethics commission, and, last April, the governor agreed to a settlement in which his campaign retroactively disclosed that it did receive the donor list, and paid a $100 fine.

Still, Hawley, a Republican who is running for the U.S. Senate, had previously declined to investigate the charity. But last week’s indictment over the alleged blackmail has shifted the political winds in Missouri, gravely weakening Greitens’ political standing.

Several of Greitens’ current and former staffers have reportedly been subpoeneaed to testify before the grand jury, including at least one who was involved in the Mission Continues controversy. And the GOP-controlled Missouri House is conducting its own probe of the blackmail allegations.

New information about links between the charity and Greitens’ campaign also has emerged recently.

On Monday, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that a Greitens employee had emailed the donor list to campaign aides in January 2015, nearly two months earlier than the campaign had previously said. A number of people, including a New York Times reporter and Missouri high school student, came forward this week to say they began receiving emails from Greitens’ campaign years after donating to his charitable foundation, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. And on Thursday, the Associated Press reported that Greitens used an email for the charity to arrange political meetings in January 2015, while he still sat on The Mission Continues’ board.

News of Hawley’s investigation came the same day that the AG announced he had found no wrongdoing in a separate investigation into the use of a secret self-deleting messaging application by Greitens and his staffers.

The governor campaigned on a platform of transparency.