Attorney General Josh Hawley says his office has discovered probable cause of "potential criminal wrongdoing" by Governor Eric Greitens involving a charity Greitens founded — and that he's obtained a court order allowing him to turn over those findings to the St. Louis Circuit Attorney.
Hawley said he would also be sharing the information with the committee investigating Greitens for possible impeachment.
Hawley explained at a press conference in Jefferson City this morning that he believed there was probable cause that Greitens had obtained or transferred a donor list from the Mission Continues non-profit and used it for political gain. If the donor list is found to have a value in excess of $500, Greitens could face a felony charge, Hawley said.
"Evidence now in our possession would likely support a finding of probable cause that Mr. Greitens obtained an electronic donor list created by the Mission Continues for the organization's internal purposes. Mr. Greitens, however, used that list for political fundraising," Hawley said. "He transmitted that list for political fundraising. And he did all of this without the permission of the Mission Continues.
"If proven, these acts could amount to the unauthorized taking and use of property — in this case, electronic property. Under Missouri law, this is known as computer tampering. And given the value of the list in question, it is a felony."
While a list of contacts might seem to have negligible value, Hawley suggested prosecutors should look at the value of the money the list was subsequently "used to raise." That, he suggested, was well over $500.
Hawley also warned that the statute of limitations for the act was fast approaching. "We stand ready to assist the Circuit Attorney in any way she may require should she choose to pursue this matter," he says.
Hawley also pushed back on the earlier suggestion from Greitens' office that he should recuse himself from the Mission Continues investigation because he'd called for the governor's impeachment over reports that, before taking office, Greitens had coerced and assaulted his former hairdresser.
"I'm doing my job, and my job is to enforce the laws of Missouri to protect the people of Missouri," he said. "I'm going to go on doing that, no matter who tries to intimidate me."
Hawley said his office's investigation into the Mission Continues has been underway for about ten months. He resisted the suggestion that he is only turning over the case now — or speaking out so publicly against Greitens — because he's locked in a tight race for U.S. Senate against Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri). (Worth noting: The AP first broke the story of Greitens' apparent misuse of the Mission Continues' donor list in October 2016.)
A fellow outsider and fellow Republican who swept into office with Greitens in November 2016, Hawley faced derision for clearing the governor's office for its use of the Confide messaging app after an investigation that seemed cursory at best. But lately, with the governor fighting for his political future, Hawley has taken a much more aggressive tone.
"We investigated when we had evidence to investigate," Hawley told reporters. "We needed evidence to act, and we have acted."
Among those unimpressed? The governor himself. In a statement, he snipes, "Fortunately for Josh, he’s better at press conferences than the law. Anyone who has set foot in a Missouri courtroom knows these allegations are ridiculous.
"Josh has turned the evidence he claims to have over to St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner — a liberal prosecutor funded by George Soros who allegedly suborned perjury, falsified documents and withheld evidence. We will dispense with these false allegations."
Editor's note: We updated this post after publication to change the headline and also add a statement from Greitens.
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