JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A political consultant directed state employees during the early days of now-resigned Republican Gov. Eric Greitens’ administration, according to records obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch .
Emails from Greitens’ team spanning from his transition to governor through the first several weeks of his tenure show his senior adviser, Austin Chambers, approved policy roll-outs, received drafts of Greitens’ State of the State address and had access to pending media inquiries. Chambers worked for Greitens’ campaign and for a nonprofit that pushed his agenda.
Associated Press messages seeking comment from Chambers and Greitens were not immediately returned Friday.
The emails are significant because Josh Hawley, who on Thursday left office as Missouri’s attorney general to become a U.S. senator, is under investigation by the Secretary of State’s Office for similar issues.
Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft launched the investigation of Hawley after a liberal group filed a complaint alleging that Hawley misused state resources when political consultants directed attorney general staff to do work that would help Hawley’s Senate bid.
Hawley’s office has repeatedly said no taxpayer resources were ever used for his campaign.
The records on Greitens are coming out in response to a Sunshine request made by the Attorney General’s Office in May. Hawley launched an investigation in response to emails that appear to show a governor’s office employee helping to write a Facebook post for Greitens’ personal account, potentially violating laws against taxpayer resources being spent to support political campaigns.
Greitens resigned in June 2018 amid personal and political scandals, including allegations that he slapped and shoved a woman with whom he had an extramarital affair and that he took a donor list without permission from a nonprofit he founded and used it for political fundraising. Greitens has repeatedly denied allegations of criminal misconduct.
A special prosecutor ultimately decided against taking up a felony invasion of privacy charge against Greitens related to claims that he allegedly took a photo of the woman he had an affair with while she was partially nude, then threatened to release it if she exposed their relationship. In exchange for his resignation, St. Louis prosecutors also dropped a felony charge of tampering with computer data that was related to the donor list.
Greitens’ replacement, Republican Gov. Mike Parson, now is providing thousands of emails to the Attorney General’s Office for its investigation.
Records obtained by the newspaper show Greitens’ other political advisers also had wide latitude to work with taxpayer-paid staff.
Greitens’ confidant Mark Bobak was allowed to park in a Capitol space reserved for governor’s staff. Greitens’ campaign Treasurer Jeff Stuerman and fundraiser Meredith Gibbons, who also was paid by a nonprofit that pushed Greitens’ agenda, also were in contact with state employees.