Cole County prosecutor won’t charge Greitens over campaign finance reports | St. Louis Public Radio

Cole County prosecutor won’t charge Greitens over campaign finance reports

May 18, 2018

Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson announced he will not charge Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens for filing false campaign finance reports.

It’s a situation that stems back to April 2017, when Greitens signed a consent order with the Missouri Ethics Commission about a matter that may become a major rationale for his potential impeachment.

After initially denying he used a fundraising list from The Mission Continues for political purposes, Greitens acknowledged in April 2017 that he did use that information to raise money for his campaign. He signed a consent order with the Missouri Ethics Commission saying that Danny Laub, a former campaign aide, provided the list as an in-kind contribution.

But after being deposed this year by Attorney General Josh Hawley, Laub denied he gave the Greitens’ campaign with the list. A House committee report showed that one of Greitens’ employees, Krystal Taylor, sent the list to Laub and Michael Hafner, then a campaign advisor, in January 2017. The Kansas City Star reported last month that Hawley turned information over to Richardson to potentially charge Greitens with filing false campaign finance reports.

Richardson released a statement saying “I have decided not to file a criminal charge” as suggested by Hawley’s office. A spokesman for Richardson did not return a phone call from St. Louis Public Radio.

In a statement, Hawley spokeswoman Mary Compton said prosecuting Attorneys "have the discretion whether to pursue criminal charges, but this Office stands by its determination that the information provided supports a determination of probable cause.”

In an interview with St. Louis Public Radio on Thursday, Catherine Hanaway, an attorney for Greitens’ political committee, defended the way the consent order was structured. Greitens ultimately was fined $1,000, but only had to pay $100.

“It was going to be resolved by reflecting Danny as the person who, since he was the campaign manager and the list was there when the campaign started, provided the list to the campaign,” Hanaway said. “It isn’t more complicated than that. The campaign starts. The list is already there. Danny Laub’s the campaign manager. So he’s reflected on this case that was settled with the Missouri Ethics Commission for a very minor fine. This is a minor campaign violation. Most speeding tickets cost more than $100.”

House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty slammed Richardson’s decision, noting that he decided to pursue criminal charges against protesters in the Senate gallery — but not Greitens.

“Two years ago, Cole County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Richardson aggressively prosecuted a group of elderly black pastors for singing hymns in the Senate,” McCann Beatty said. “Today, he announced that he can’t be bothered to pursue charges against a Republican governor accused of actual crimes. Mr. Richardson clearly has difficulty assessing threats to the integrity of state government.”

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum