Josh Hawley said evidence suggests Eric Greitens took a list of donors to The Mission Continues — a charity he founded — and used that list without permission from the organization as a tool to benefit his campaign.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said Tuesday that his office uncovered potential criminal wrongdoing by Gov. Eric Greitens unrelated to a felony invasion of privacy charge he already faces.
“To be specific, within the past several days, we have obtained evidence of potential criminal violation of Missouri law. And the evidence indicates that these potential criminal acts were committed by Gov. Eric Greitens," Hawley said.
Hawley said evidence suggests Greitens took a list of donors to The Mission Continues — a charity he founded — and used that list without permission from the organization as a tool to benefit his campaign. Hawley also said evidence suggests Greitens transmitted that list.
Federal law bars 501(c)(3) charities like The Mission Continues from giving out donor lists for political purposes. The charity denied giving the list to the governor or his campaign, according to the Associated Press.
The Greitens campaign filed an amended financial report in April 2017 that listed the in-kind value of the list at $600. The value of list and any subsequent donations to the Greitens campaign is almost certainly valued at more than $600, which would pass the $500 threshold making Greitens' alleged use of the list a felony if charged. The list in question names contributors of $1,000 or more to The Mission Continues. Taking and transmitting that list without permission could amount to a felony computer tampering charge.
Greitens called Hawley's allegations "ridiculous." He said the first-term Attorney General is "better at press conferences than the law."
The Missouri Ethics Commission, which among other things works to protect the integrity of the state's elections, fined Greitens $1,000 on April 28, 2017, the same day his committee filed an amended financial report, for failing to disclose the use of the list. How the campaign got the list in the first place is the subject of any potential criminal charges.
Hawley, in a conference live-streamed by several media outlets, said prosecuting the crime would fall under the jurisdiction of the St. Louis Circuit Attorney because the alleged crimes took place in St. Louis. The Attorney General's office has shared evidence with Kim Gardner's office. Gardner's team can seek further cooperation from Hawley's, but is ultimately responsible for any forthcoming case.
Hawley noted that a statute of limitation applies in this case, and that date is approaching. He would not disclose when the statue of limitation runs out to prosecute.
The first-term Republican Attorney General said his office “issued multiple subpoenas and reviewed hundreds of thousands of documents” before arriving at the conclusion Greitens, also a Republican, might have broken the law. The evidence, Hawley said, rises to the level of probable cause, the threshold needed to prosecute a case.
Greitens' alleged use of the charity's donor list isn't a new development. The Associated Press first reported in October 2016 that it had received documents that donors to The Mission Continues had also chipped in more than $2 million to Greitens' start-up campaign.
As reported by long-time AP Missouri writer David A. Lieb: “A separate Excel spreadsheet obtained by the AP suggests that correlation is no coincidence. The spreadsheet, labeled 'All donors $1K total and up — as of 5-7-14,' shows the names, email addresses and phone numbers of people who gave at least $1,000 to The Mission Continues. Its properties show it was created by a Mission Continues employee May 6, 2014, shortly before Greitens stepped down as CEO, and was last saved March 24, 2015, by Michael Hafner, who had been working for Greitens’ gubernatorial exploratory committee.”
An investigation into the The Mission Continues is ongoing, Hawley said. Defense attorneys for Greitens have said Hawley should recuse his office from that investigation, citing a conflict of interest since Hawley publicly called for Greitens' resignation. Hawley said there's no indication of criminal action by the charity thus far.
“This office will not be intimidated and will not be deterred,” Hawley said of the call for recusal.
Hawley has sought to distance himself from the governor, who has found himself embroiled in controversy since a felony of invasion of privacy charge was handed down by a St. Louis Grand Jury in January.
Hawley said an investigation into the invasion of privacy case “doesn't immunize” the governor from an investigation on separate charges.
The campaign for U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, Hawley's likely opponent in a bid for a seat in the U.S. Senate, called into question Hawley's timing.
“The evidence in this case has been publicly available since October 2016 — what excuse could Josh Hawley possibly have for failing to pursue an investigation and allowing this evidence to languish for over a year? The only reason the statute of limitations is now a problem in this case is because Hawley was trying to protect his friend and large donor for as long as possible,” said Meira Bernstein, McCaskill's Communications Director.
Gardner's office declined to comment on Hawley's press conference. In a tweet, the office said it will review evidence. Gardner has been accused of leading a “witch hunt” to unseat Greitens. The investigation into alleged instances in which a woman says she was coerced into a sexual relationship with Greitens before he took office has been heavily criticized by defense attorneys.
A separate Missouri House investigation committee released a report last week that called the woman's testimony into Greitens' behavior “credible.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.