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Missouri Ethics Commission fines ex-governor $178,000 for campaign finance violations

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

Published in News & Features

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- State ethics regulators have fined the campaign of former Gov. Eric Greitens $178,000 over campaign finance violations dating to his upstart, outsider bid to become Missouri's chief executive.

The Missouri Ethics Commission released its long-awaited probe of Greitens' campaign apparatus Thursday. The commission found reasonable grounds to believe the Greitens campaign committed two violations of Missouri law, but dismissed other allegations.

The MEC said the fine was linked to two dark money groups that were raising and spending money to further Greitens' political career.

"The MEC investigation did not find that Eric Greitens had personal knowledge" of the violations, the report noted, "however, candidates are ultimately responsible for all reporting requirements."

A consent order says Greitens can pay $38,000 of the fine and be done with the case as long as no more violations occur, and said the ethics commission "found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Eric Greitens, individually."

Despite the fine, Greitens' legal team declared victory.

 

"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," said Catherine Hanaway, who ran against Greitens in the GOP primary for governor in 2016.

Greitens said in a statement that he is "grateful that the truth has won out."

In July 2018, then-Rep. Jay Barnes, a Jefferson City Republican who had led a Missouri House investigation into Greitens, filed a complaint with the ethics commission.

More than 18 months later, on Thursday, the ethics commission issued an order that said Greitens' campaign should have reported as an in-kind contribution polling data it received from A New Missouri, the dark-money group Greitens aides formed in 2017 to boost the governor's brand.

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