Former aide refutes Eric Greitens' claim on donor list in new report

Embattled Gov. Greitens refuses to step down
Embattled Gov. Greitens refuses to step down

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(CNN)A former campaign aide to Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens told investigators that the campaign falsely identified him in a finance report as the source of a charity donor list, when Greitens himself in fact obtained the list for his campaign, according to a new report by a Missouri House committee investigating the governor.

According to the report, then-candidate Greitens directed his political operation in 2014 and 2015 to use a donor list from The Mission Continues, a veterans charity he founded, without the knowledge or authorization of the charity's leadership.
That contradicts an amended finance report submitted by Greitens' campaign in 2017, which listed the former aide, Danny Laub, as the source of the list. The state House report details efforts by Greitens campaign manager Austin Chambers to persuade Laub, the former aide, to be named as the source of the list. At the time Laub agreed and Greitens signed a statement in a settlement with the Missouri Ethics Commission affirming Laub's role.
But Laub, in a deposition taken by Attorney General Josh Hawley's office and shared with the Missouri House panel, now says that he did not provide the list, and only agreed to put his name on the finance report because it was misrepresented to him.
    The report offers further context to a felony charge of computer tampering brought last month against Greitens by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, stemming from his acquisition and use of the list.
    The Republican governor and his attorneys have not disputed that he used the list to raise money for his campaign, but they contend that he should have been permitted to do so because he helped cultivate those donors as sole founder of the charity called The Mission Continues.
    "This charge makes no sense at all," Greitens' attorney Ed Dowd said in a statement last month when Greitens was charged.
    But the new state house report, drawn from sworn testimony and documents obtained by the special investigative committee and Hawley, adds new details to the allegations and could complicate the governor's legal and political pushback. It could also give fresh momentum to impeachment proceedings against Greitens, which Missouri Republican leaders have said they intend to pursue in a special session of the legislature.
    In interviews with the committee, Krystal Proctor and Michael Hafner, two former Greitens campaign aides, testified that Greitens directed Proctor to send the donor list to his political team. The list was included in an email from Proctor (then Krystal Taylor) to Hafner and Laub, who was steering Greitens' political efforts, in January 2015, when Greitens remained on the board of The Mission Continues.
    Proctor told the committee "'there was no confusion' when she shared the list with Hafner and Laub at Greitens' direction that they were going to use it to support 'the political campaign' and, in particular, 'political fundraising,'" the report said.
    There was seemingly no effort inside the nascent campaign to conceal the source of the list. Emails among the early campaign team characterized the list as originating from The Mission Continues and Greitens stressed "the importance of the (Mission Continues) donor list to support future political fundraising efforts," Proctor alleged in her testimony.
    In an interview with the committee, Spencer Kympton, chief partnerships officer for The Mission Continues, characterized Greitens' use of the list for political purposes as "a misuse, as far as The Mission Continues is concerned." He said he was not aware of any authorization for Greitens to use the list.
    The list included the personal information of donors who had contributed in excess of $1,000 to The Mission Continues. According to the report, Greitens first came in possession of the list in 2014 when he was departing as CEO of the charity, in order to speak with donors about the forthcoming leadership change. At that time, Greitens' early planning to run for office was well underway.
    The new report also casts doubt on Greitens' defense that he personally seeded and grew the donor list for The Mission Continues.
    Hafner told the committee about one conversation with Greitens in which he "didn't recall a number of names from the list" and directed Hafner to meet with an official from The Mission Continues for more information about the donors. Hafner said he never set up such a meeting.
    And Kympton said he would not characterize the list as consisting of purely Greitens' own network, but instead "as a list of supporters and partners of The Mission Continues that came from a variety of different pathways to that relationship."
    Additionally, the report appears to raise new questions about the Greitens campaign's response to an ethics complaint regarding its use of the list, which came to light in 2016 during the campaign.
    As part of a settlement in 2017 with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Greitens submitted an amended campaign finance report classifying the donor list as an in-kind contribution from Laub valued at $600.
    But in a deposition with a representative for Hawley, which was also shared with the committee, Laub said that he had not been the source of the list to the campaign and that Chambers had misrepresented the settlement to him.
    Laub said of the amended report that the "whole document made (him) sick ... because it was misrepresented (and) because (he) was in a round of news stories falsely portraying what happened."
    Greitens has panned the investigations into his conduct as part of "a political witch hunt," including the work of the state house committee, led by Republican state Rep. Jay Barnes.
    Catherine Hanaway, an attorney representing the Greitens campaign, said the report "does a tremendous disservice to the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions."
    "Even though the report alleges that a false campaign report was filed, the Chairman did not allow the campaign an opportunity to be heard," Hanaway said.
    Meanwhile, a roster of leading Missouri Republicans have called on Greitens to step down, including Hawley, Rep. Ann Wagner, and state House Speaker Todd Richardson.