Friday, March 2, 2018

The Hit Parade

Yesterday was a parade of news – so much of it about Greitens’ various investigations and scandals…

First, the real reporters followed up on my blurb yesterday about the gov’s staff and campaign lawyering up.  See Kansas City Star’s reporting here.

Pull Quote: Todd Graves said that his Kansas City-based firm, Graves Garrett, is representing some members of Greitens’ official staff. Graves is the chair of the Missouri Republican Party and brother of U.S. Rep. Sam Graves. Graves confirmed that the staffers had received subpoenas… “We represent some staff members,” Graves said. “We do not represent the governor. I will not specify which staff members at this point or what day our firm was retained," Graves said in an additional email. "No tax dollars will be used. We will give more information later on payment.”

In the wake of the indictment, the state party, which Graves chairs, has attacked the credibility of the Democratic prosecutor leading the investigation.

Catherine Hanaway, a former speaker of the Missouri House and former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, confirmed on Thursday that her law firm represents a former member of Greitens’ campaign staff who had received a subpoena…

The KC Star reported that Michael Hafner had spoken to St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner about the possible Mission Continues donor lift theft.

The news suggests that the inquiry has broadened to include activities by Greitens' campaign. Michael Hafner is a longtime Republican consultant who worked for the governor’s campaign when it first began raising money by using the donor list of The Mission Continues, a veterans charity Greitens founded in 2007…

Issues surrounding the Greitens campaign’s use of the charity’s donor list have dogged the governor since shortly before the 2016 election.

Greitens initially publicly denied that his campaign ever possessed the donor list. After a complaint was filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Greitens and his attorney signed a consent decree last year attesting that the list was given to his campaign in March 2015 as an in-kind donation from Daniel Laub, his campaign manager… The revelations could raise new legal pitfalls for Greitens at a time when he’s already fending off a felony invasion of privacy charge and talk of impeachment in the Missouri House.

Post-Dispatch’s Tony Messenger followed on with a column that follows up on a New York Times reporters’ twitter-stream about Greitens’ campaign also using the Mission Continues email list.  See it here.

Then AP’s David Lieb followed on with a story that the governor used the charity’s email for political purposes.  See it here.

Pull Quote: Experts on rules governing nonprofits told the AP that a scenario such as Greitens’ use of the charity’s email account could cross the line of what’s allowed, though they said that line is not clearly defined.

“It is not appropriate to use 501(c)(3) charitable assets — charitable email addresses, the charitable name — to promote a candidacy for public office,” said David L. Thompson, an attorney who is vice president of public policy at the National Council of Nonprofits, based in Washington, D.C.

Greitens officially opened a candidate exploratory committee on Feb. 24, 2015. The fact that the meeting invitations were sent before then muddies questions about legality but doesn’t automatically mean it was fine, particularly if Greitens was already functioning like a candidate, several experts said…

Then Josh Hawley entered the day’s news cycle.  He concluded his Confide report saying he didn’t find evidence of wrong-doing.  See Will Schmitt’s reporting here.  It obvious fact that the AG Office couldn’t view the texts that had been deleted so relied on staff interviews.  And the odd fact that the AG’s Office didn’t release the report.  They sent it to the governor’s office which released it.

But, soon after OKing the gov’s past use of Confide, the AG announced it would be getting into the donor list theft scandal.  See Post-Dispatch’s reporting here.

Whew.  I probably missed a development along the way.

Oh yeah, the House unanimously approved the resolution for their Investigative Committee.

 

Q&A #1: What’s That Giant Sucking Sound?

Short answer: It’s the air going out of everything else in the Capitol.

 

One Republican caught me in the halls this week and reminded me how I had written about the baseball term Wins Above Replacement earlier in the year – before the scandals.  I wrote that Greitens’ wins weren’t anything that anybody else with an R behind their names wouldn’t have achieved.

That Republican said, now his WAR stat is negative.  Anyone else would be getting more wins because there wouldn’t be this enormous distraction in the building and increasing divisiveness among Republicans…

 

Q&A#2: How Does All This End?

Short answer: My guess: resignation.

 

First, let me offer the disclaimers that everyone in touch with the governor says he won’t resign.  And let me say that I talk to people everyday who say he will survive.  He will beat the basement affair and slowly rebuild himself and people will move on.

I imagine a different future when I try to guess how this will end up.

I think we’ll see more indictments.  I don’t have inside information.  But there’s a lot of smoke on this Mission Continues donor list.  And if that happens, then there’s the possibility that the MEC consent order he signed isn’t 100% truthful.  That’s be another issue.  And then there’s the Mission Continues email list.  That’s another issue.  Gardner’s office has indicated in court that there still might be something else related to the basement episode beyond the photo.  That’s another issue.

These are the things that there’s some evidence in the public domain regarding.  Forget whether there’s been any shenanigans in the dark money operations that we can’t see.

If you have a piling up for three or four or five indictments, I think any good attorney will be looking out for their client, not their client’s political career.  That means a plea bargain.  And part of the plea is resignation.

That’s my guess.  But of course we’re still very early in all this.  So we’ll see….

 

Bits

Rep. Nate Walker spoke at Marion County Farm Bureau last night.  The meeting was about an hour outside his state rep district, but inside the Senate 18 district.  He hasn’t filed yet, but this seems to be a sign that he will be.  Interesting to note: he seems to have pulled some of his anti-Greitens posts down from his Facebook page – and he didn’t mention the governor in his remarks…

 

Rep. Lauren Arthur won the Democratic nomination for the June 5 special election in Senate 17.  Press release: “I am honored to receive the Democratic nomination from our local leaders on the Clay County Democratic Committee. If you’re a senior trying to pay for your medicine, a family that hasn’t seen a paycheck increase in years, a woman facing harassment, or a student just trying to go to school -- the Republican establishment in Jefferson City hasn’t been fighting for you…”

 

One source says that “complaints have been filed against Kim Gardner using unlicensed investigators…”  What it means: we’re looking at hand-to-hand combat for the next couple months…

 

Among the chattering class there has been some discussion about why political consultant Jeff Roe would take up arms to defend what many consider to be a lost cause in Governor Eric Greitens.  There are two theories: one is that he’s a businessman.  Here’s a client who will pay money, why shouldn’t he do business?  The other is that Roe is thinking that he can keep Greitens afloat at least until November by forestalling a House impeachment.  That means, if Hawley can beat McCaskill, Greitens will be in a position to appoint a new attorney general.  That’s not nothing.  And one MOScouter thinks Todd Graves would be pick.  Graves because “in addition to having the inside track with Roe, he’s actually qualified for the job…”

 

February’s budget numbers swooned -21% from a year ago.  It confirms the theory that some folks paid their taxes early this year because of the change to federal law, boosting January’s numbers artificially.  The fiscal year-to-date number is now +4.42%

 

eMailbag: The Shame of Jack Danforth

Three years ago Saturday, John Danforth's fury was righteous as he eulogized his protege Tom Schweich, who had died by his own hand.  In the days before he turned his handgun on himself at age 54, Schweich had confided to Danforth his personal hurt about a radio ad run by the consultant of one of his opponents, comparing Schweich to Barney Fife.

“As for the radio commercial,” Danforth said in his eulogy, “making fun of someone’s physical appearance, calling him a ‘little bug’, there is one word to describe it: ‘bullying.’ And there is one word to describe the person behind it: ‘bully.’”

Danforth said such bullying “creates a new normal, where politics is only for the tough and the crude and the calloused.”

The former senator and Episcopal minister added: “…the death of Tom Schweich is the natural consequence of what politics has become. I believe deep in my heart that it’s now our duty, yours and mine, to turn politics into something much better than its now so miserable state.”

The consultant Danforth referred to was Jeff Roe. In the 2016 GOP primary for governor, Roe and his company, Axiom, worked for Catherine Hanaway.  Eric Greitens beat Hanaway in the 2016 GOP primary. He won her endorsement and added her consultant Roe to his general election team. On the eve of the third anniversary of Tom Schweich’s funeral, we have come full circle: Jeff Roe and Catherine Hanaway are again on the same side as Greitens, along with the strangest of teammates: Jack Danforth.

The same Jack Danforth whose eulogy blamed Roe and by extension Hanaway in the Schweich suicide.

The same Jack Danforth who is a partner in the Dowd, Bennett Law Firm of Clayton, which is handling Greitens’ criminal defense.

The same Dowd, Bennett Law Firm that has hired Roe’s lobbying firm to work lawmakers on Greitens’ behalf in the investigation authorized by the GOP-controlled House on a 154-0 vote on Thursday.

Danforth should resign on principle from Dowd, Bennett - or publicly explain why he is staying to work with Jeff Roe.

 

New Candidate Filings

Duvel (DJ) Pierre filed to run in House 26 as a Democrat.  He joins Dylan Burd, creating a Democratic primary here.  This Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty’s seat.  She’s termed.

Cory Kelley filed to run in House 110 as a Democrat.  Rep. Kirk Mathews said recently he wouldn’t be running for re-election.  No Republican has filed yet, but a Republican primary wouldn’t be a surprise here.

Rep. Jeffrey Pogue filed for re-election in House 143.  He already has a Republican primary opponent, Jack Bates.

 

Lobbyists Registrations

Greg Yielding added Missouri Rice Council

James Bennett added Eric Greitens c/o Dowd Bennett.

Jeff Brooks, William Gamble, Cynthia Gamble, David Jackson, Sarah Topp and Kathryn Gamble added B.F. Ascher & Co., Inc.

Michael Gibbons, and Tricia Workman added SHI International.

Gary Wiegert added Coalition for Life St. Louis.

Wendy Watson deleted Leggett & Platt Incorporated.

Bridget Ohmes deleted St. Charles County Association of Realtors.

Evan Rosell deleted Missouri Attorney General’s Office.

Chris Hankins deleted Justice for Jake.

 

$5K+ Contributions

House Republican Campaign Committee Inc - $15,000 from Graves for Congress.

House Republican Campaign Committee Inc – $10,000 from Michael Stephens.

Committee to Elect Steve Butz - $10,000 from Stephen Butz.

Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors Missouri PAC - $17,291 from Missouri Realtors PAC Inc.

Property Casualty Insurers Association of America Political Account - $31,815 from Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

Committee for Frank Albani - $15,000 from Frank Albani.

MO Republican Party - $65,000 from Debra Humphreys.

MO Republican Party - $65,000 from David Humphreys.

MO Republican Party - $65,000 from Ethelmae Humphreys.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to William “Buddy” Hardin, Greg Harrison, Titus Bond, and Rob Monsees.

Saturday: Heath Clarkston, Maria Walden, Brooke Foster, and John Hancock.

Sunday: Sen. Dan Hegeman and former Rep. Rochelle Walton Gray.