UPDATED: Court says pro-Greitens' group must comply with subpoena
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A secretive group supporting Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens must turn over documents subpoenaed by a legislative committee trying to determine whether to bring impeachment proceedings against the Republican governor, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem ordered the pro-Greitens group A New Missouri to immediately begin turning over documents and to finish doing so by Friday. The order also applies to documents sought from Greitens' campaign committee related to A New Missouri.
A special Missouri House committee has been investigating a variety of allegations against Greitens, including sexual misconduct and misuse of a charity donor list for his political campaign. The subpoenas related to A New Missouri focus on alleged efforts to conceal donations used to benefit Greitens.
On Tuesday, the committee heard testimony from Republican consultant Michael Hafner. He said he provided political advice and helped organize meetings for Greitens with potential donors and campaign vendors in 2014 and early 2015, before Greitens officially created his political committee on Feb. 24, 2015.
State law requirees candidates to form political committees when they either raise or spend more than $500.
Hafner testified that he recommended in December 2014 that Greitens set up a political committee to handle fundraising and expenses for his upcoming campaign. But Greitens didn't immediately do so.
Instead, Hafner said, he was paid in excess of $500 by The Greitens Group, which was Greitens' personal promotional company, for political work he did in January 2015. He was paid by Greitens' campaign after the exploratory committee was officially created.
Among other things, Hafner testified that he spoke to potential Greitens' donors about funneling money through nonprofits to keep donations concealed.
"There were specific donors I reached out to, who Eric connected me with, and we discussed specifically nonprofits and (501c4s) and what the process would be," said Hafner, who left Greitens campaign later in 2015.
Greitens won election in November 2016 and took office in January 2017.
Shortly afterward, Greitens' campaign aides helped create A New Missouri, a 501c4 social welfare nonprofit that doesn't have to disclose the identities of its donors. Such committees cannot intervene in campaigns on behalf of candidates but can engage in political activities so long as that's not their primary purpose.
A New Missouri has spent money on behalf of Greitens and his policy goals, including making contributions to other groups supporting a right-to-work law Greitens signed that limited union powers.
Beetem ordered compliance with subpoena requests for any communications and documents showing potential coordination between Greitens, his campaign committee and A New Missouri; and communications and expenditures by A New Missouri related to media advertising.
The judge said the identities of any donors to A New Missouri could be redacted from the documents.
Missouri House attorney Mark Kempton has said the legislative subpoenas are trying to "get to the bottom of whether or not there have been any campaign contribution violations."
Catherine Hanaway, an attorney for both for Greitens' campaign and A New Missouri, had argued that the subpoena requests were beyond the scope of the committee's investigation.
Hanaway did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the judge's ruling.