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VP Pence's top aide, tied to Greitens, targeted in new Missouri ethics complaint

Jack Suntrup and Kurt Erickson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in News & Features

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence discussed soliciting contributions from "restricted donors" while he was advising future Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' 2016 campaign, according to a complaint filed Tuesday with the state's ethics commission.

The complaint also says that Greitens for Missouri, which Pence Chief of Staff Nick Ayers advised, "funneled" donations through 501(c)(4) nonprofits, which do not have to reveal donor identities.

One potential donor, according to an email a Missouri House investigative committee obtained, was employed by a company that "manages money for the state of Missouri" -- and could thus be barred by federal law from donating to political campaigns.

It is unclear to what extent, if any, Ayers was involved in discussions with that particular donor. But an email from 2015 shows that Ayers was in contact with the Greitens campaign about a "restricted donor."

The revelation is contained in a 24-page complaint by Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, who led the now-defunct House committee that was collecting evidence to determine if Greitens should be impeached and removed from office.

Greitens, who was enmeshed in multiple scandals and had faced two potential felony court cases that were later dropped, resigned on June 1 after 17 tumultuous months in office. Greitens' whereabouts have been unclear since he moved out of the Governor's Mansion.

Barnes asked the ethics panel to investigate several alleged campaign infractions by Greitens and his campaign. The complaint singles out three close advisers: Ayers, fundraiser Meredith Gibbons and campaign manager Austin Chambers.

Barnes wrote that the committee obtained a June 27, 2016, email to Gibbons from an undisclosed "early supporter and fundraiser of Greitens." The person writes to Gibbons that "I'm pretty sure he's not allowed to give," because "(redacted) manages money for the state of Missouri."

"Eric can mention the 501(c)(4) if applicable, but no idea how (redacted) will react to that," the email says.

It is unclear from Tuesday's complaint who the prospective donor was, and whether the donor ultimately cut a check to help propel Greitens to office. But Barnes wrote that on June 29, 2016, two days after the email, a 501(c)(4) group called Freedom Frontier donated $500,000 to LG PAC, the mysterious entity that spent more than $4 million to attack Greitens' competitors in the 2016 primary.

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