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Eric Greitens' alleged federal campaign finance violation also broke Missouri law, watchdog claims

Springfield News-Leader logo Springfield News-Leader 12/2/2021 Galen Bacharier, Springfield News-Leader
Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and 2022 U.S. Senate candidate speaks at the Taney County Lincoln Day event April 17 at the Chateau on the Lake in Branson. © Nathan Papes/Springfield News-Leader Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and 2022 U.S. Senate candidate speaks at the Taney County Lincoln Day event April 17 at the Chateau on the Lake in Branson.

Former Gov. Eric Greitens' campaign allegedly violated Missouri law and an agreement with the Missouri Ethics Commission by spending money on his U.S. Senate campaign, a campaign finance watchdog said in a complaint filed Wednesday.

The new complaint stems from another filed last month with the Federal Elections Commission by the nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based Campaign Legal Center. The group alleged that Greitens' Senate campaign spent more than $100,000 taken from his campaign account for governor, which would be a violation of federal law.

Those transactions also violated Missouri campaign finance law, the group alleges in its new filing, as well as an agreement between Greitens' gubernatorial campaign and the Missouri Ethics Commission put in place after a previous violation. The group says the state-level campaign's failure to disclose its donations to his federal committee ran afoul of state statute, which requires state committees to file periodic reports with dates and amounts of contributions to any other committees. 

Greitens' campaign said the original complaint was "ludicrous" in October. Dylan Johnson, campaign manager for Greitens, said Wednesday that "no funds from prior campaigns have been used in the Senate race."

"This is another cynical Soros-funded witch hunt and we will seek damages for these libelous claims," he said.

Eric Greitens' campaign finance: Ethics officials fine former governor $178K for two lapses, dismiss others

If the Missouri Ethics Commission finds probable cause with the group's complaint, Greitens' state campaign could be forced to pay just over $140,000 in fines. An investigation by the commission into earlier alleged violations released in February fined Greitens' campaign $178,087, $38,000 of which was paid immediately. The remainder of the fine would be enforced if the commission found any other violations of law within two years under a consent agreement.

"We filed the FEC complaint and we noticed that Greitens had entered into the consent order last year, so we thought it was important to also bring these transactions to the attention of the Missouri Ethics Commission," said Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform for the Campaign Legal Center.

The payments alleged in the earlier federal complaint include more than $50,000 to Greitens' campaign manager, around $47,000 to a digital media company and $7,500 to a TV booking company.

The commission's 2020 investigation found that there was reasonable grounds to believe Greitens' campaign committed two violations. It dismissed several other accusations made against the campaign and a nonprofit allied with Greitens and said there was no evidence that Greitens himself was aware of the violations. The former governor, who resigned in 2018, said at the time that he was "exonerated" and "vindicated."

Galen Bacharier covers Missouri politics & government for the News-Leader. Contact him at gbacharier@news-leader.com, (573) 219-7440 or on Twitter @galenbacharier.

This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Eric Greitens' alleged federal campaign finance violation also broke Missouri law, watchdog claims

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