JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced Tuesday he has uncovered a potential felony violation by Gov. Eric Greitens.
In a press conference held at his office, Hawley said the violation is related to Greitens’ nonprofit, The Mission Continues, and that he has turned evidence over to the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office.
“In the course of this investigation, we have uncovered evidence of wrongdoing that goes beyond Missouri’s charity laws,” Hawley said. “To be specific, within the last several days we have obtained evidence of potential criminal violations of Missouri law and the evidence indicates that these potentially criminal acts were committed by Governor Eric Greitens.”
Hawley said his office turned over the evidence to St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner on Monday since the alleged crime occurred in the city of St. Louis. Ultimately, the decision to charge Greitens with a crime would fall in the hands of Gardner, who is also prosecuting the Republican governor in a felony invasion of privacy case.
Hawley added that the deadline for statute of limitations is fast approaching and a charging decision must be made very soon.
“We did this to enable the Circuit Attorney to make a charging decision as soon as possible,” Hawley said. “We stand ready to assist the Circuit Attorney in any way she may require should she choose to charge this conduct as a crime.”
The St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office in a tweet said they would review the evidence before making a decision on whether or not to charge Greitens with a felony.
“Yesterday, prosecutors in the Circuit Attorney’s Office met with members of the Attorney General’s team. The AG’s team provided information they have gathered to us, and we are reviewing the evidence. We can’t discuss any specifics at this time, as the investigation is ongoing,” the tweet said.
Yesterday, prosecutors in the Circuit Attorney’s Office met with members of the Attorney General’s team. The AG’s team provided information they have gathered to us, and we are reviewing the evidence. We can’t discuss any specifics at this time, as the investigation is ongoing.
— Circuit Attorney (@stlcao) April 17, 2018
Greitens responded shortly after Hawley’s press conference, calling the allegations “ridiculous”.
“Fortunately for Josh, he’s better at press conferences than the law. Anyone who has set foot in a Missouri courtroom knows these allegations are ridiculous. Josh has turned the “evidence” he claims to have over to St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner — a liberal prosecutor funded by George Soros who allegedly suborned perjury, falsified documents, and withheld evidence. We will dispense with these false allegations,” Greitens said in a statement.
Hawley said his office also obtained permission to share the evidence with the Missouri House Investigative Committee and that his office’s investigation into Greitens will proceed.
Hawley began an investigation into Greitens’ former charity last month when it was revealed that the Republican governor may have used his veterans charity’s resources for his 2016 campaign.
The aim of the investigation, Hawley said is to see whether the charitable resources were used for political or personal gain.
“Evidence now in our possession would likely support a probable cause that Mr. Greitens obtained an electronic donor list obtained by the Mission Continues for that organization’s internal purposes,” Hawley said. “Mr. Greitens, however, used that list for political fundraising. He transmitted that list for political fundraising, and he did all of this without the permission of the Mission Continues.”
If proven, these acts could amount to the unauthorized taking and use of property. Under Missouri law, this is known as computer tampering. Given the value of the list in question, it would be considered a felony, Hawley said.
Hawley confirmed on March 23 that his office has issued 15 subpoenas in connection with the investigation. Those that have been subpoenaed include The Mission Continues along with their staff and former staff, the Greitens’ Group along with their staff and former staff, staff and former staff with Greitens for Missouri, and other undisclosed individuals and affiliates.
The controversy began in 2016 when The Associated Press obtained a list of The Mission Continues donors the Greitens’ campaign was also in possession of.
The listed included more than 500 names, email address, and phone numbers of those who donated $1,000 and more to the charity founded by Greitens. The list also had names and contact information for foundations and corporations.
The AP found that of funds raised in Greitens’ campaigns initial two-months, 85 percent came from donors who gave to The Mission Continues. Throughout his entire campaign fundraising, there was significant overlap of those who also gave to the veterans charity.
Though initially denying that his campaign ever possessed the donor list, Greitens admitted that his campaign was given the list after the Missouri Ethics Commission looked into the matter.
The Missions Continues states that they “did not provide, nor authorize the use of, our donor’s information to any persons or groups for political/campaign purposes. Nor did we promote Governor Greitens for political office.”
View Hawley’s entire press conference below: