JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri attorney general’s office has issued 15 subpoenas in an investigation of a veterans charity founded by Gov. Eric Greitens.
"This office has issued 15 subpoenas in connection with this investigation," Attorney General Josh Hawley said in a press event this morning."We have subpoenaed staff or former staff from The Mission Continues. We have subpoenaed the Greitens group. We have subpoenaed staff or former staff of the Greitens Group. We have subpoenaed staff or former staff of the campaign entity 'Greitens for Missouri.'"
Hawley said there were additional subpoenas served that he couldn't reveal the names or affiliations to.
"I am pleased with the investigation thus far from individuals who have been subpoenaed and who have responded to our subpoenas and I am pleased with the evidence we have been able to collect," Hawley said. "However, I would strongly counsel those who have or will receive a subpoena from this office to cooperate fully, to comply fully and promptly with this offices subpoenas and I remind them that failure to do so is itself a separate criminal violation under Missouri statutes."
Federal tax law prohibits 501(c)(3) charities such as The Mission Continues from participating in any political campaign on behalf of a candidate for public office.
This makes the third investigation Gov. Greitens is currently invovled in. Hawley says his office will cooperate with any other entities also investigating Greitens' matters.
"This office is cooperating with as is appropriate to the extent permissible under Missouri law, both with the circuit attorney's office in the relevant investigatory issues and with the House committee and we will continue to do so," Hawley said.
Local democrats expressed their frustrations with Hawley's response to the situation.
"This was a shameless attempt by Hawley to distract from his botched Confide investigation -- why hold a press conference when you can't answer any questions?" said Brooke Goren, Deputy Communications Director for the Missouri Democratic Party. "It's clear Hawley is just trying to cover his tracks as he continues to enable the corruption in Jefferson City. Otherwise, why didn't he start this investigation a year ago when Greitens first admitted that he stole the donor list? Oh right, Hawley won't say."
Lee Fritz, president for the Callaway Democrats Club, said he believes it reflects badly on Missouri for the governor in so many investigations.
"It is kind of an embarrassment to have a governor of the state and have allegations against that person and evidently he's not being able to go to the governors conference," Fritz said. "They don't meet with the president of the United States when he comes to this state because they're evidently an embarrassment."
Subpoenas continued to be a topic of discussion throughout the Hawley's statements. He expressed his wish that the attorney general's office had more investigative authority.
"On Monday, the House will hear testimony on legislation that would give this office subpoena authority under the Sunshine law and would also strengthen Sunshine law penalties for violations of the law," Hawley said."This office needs additional investigative authority in the Sunshine law context and penalties for violations need to be strengthened."
Hawley said if the attorney general's office had this authority, it would reopen the investigation into Greitens and his staff's use of the messaging app Confide, which deletes texts and prevents them from being saved. He said that his office was limited in what they could investigate.
"Our Confide report reports the facts that we were able to gather with the tools we had available to us and those facts are as you know them," Hawley said. "You've all read the report. But the fact of the matter is as I said almost two months now that this office does not have subpoena authority and we are limited, therefore, in the ability to collect information."
Hawley said the attorney general's office is continue to work until the truth is discovered.
"My timeline is as long as it takes to get the evidence that we need to see what the truth is," Hawley said. "We just want the facts here."