Unable to get information from his own requests, a St. Louis lawyer this weekend asked the Cole County Circuit Court to order A New Missouri to answer questions about its operations.
The lawsuit also names three of the organization’s board members as defendants — Michael Adams, A New Missouri’s president and treasurer; Robin Simpson, secretary; and Jeff Stuerman.
A New Missouri is the not-for-profit organization founded last year to support then-Gov. Eric Greitens and promote his initiatives and agenda.
Gross said in a Facebook posting earlier this month that A New Missouri is “the secretive political organization set up by former Gov. Greitens and his team. These types of organizations have been increasingly used to hide political donors and influencers from public disclosure.
“They are the facilitators of dark money politics.”
Under the state court system’s electronic filing procedures, a lawsuit can be filed at any time of the day — but it isn’t processed by the court staff until their next business day.
Because Elad Gross filed his 10-page suit after the end of Friday’s regular business hours, it doesn’t have a case number, yet; can’t be seen on Case.net, the court system’s online case docketing system; and has not, yet, been assigned to a judge.
Gross provided a copy of the lawsuit to the News Tribune.
He’s a former assistant attorney general who now is in private law practice, and he’s been trying to get information from A New Missouri since the beginning of June.
In a news release announcing the lawsuit, Gross said: “Members of former Gov. Greitens’ campaign staff and administration worked for A New Missouri, using the organization’s nonprofit status to spend millions of dollars influencing Missouri policy.”
In a new Facebook posting that also announced the lawsuit, Gross said: “Dark money’s days in the Show Me State are coming to an end.
“When our government works for powerful people who hide their influence, we get failing schools in poor neighborhoods, hospital shutdowns in rural Missouri, crumbling roads, health care for some, opportunity for the wealthy and the lucky, and far too many people who stop participating in making Missouri better because hope is a distant, faded feeling.”
Gross is using provisions of Missouri’s Nonprofit Corporation laws to get information from A New Missouri, reminding the court that the organization’s official papers filed with state officials describe it as being “organized for the purpose of conducting activities allowed pursuant to the (law), including but not limited to, the advancement of social welfare by promoting ideas, policies and/or legislation to create more jobs, higher pay, safer streets, better schools, and more, for all Missourians.”
He told the court that, as a Missourian who is a beneficiary of the organization’s work, he’s entitled to see — and copy — its documents.
Gross said he filed the suit under a part of the law that says: “If a corporation does not allow a member or resident … to inspect and copy any records required by (law) to be available for inspection, the circuit court in the county where the corporation’s principal office … is located may summarily order inspection and copying of the records demanded at the corporation’s expense upon application of the member or resident.”
A New Missouri’s main office is at 105 E. High St.
Gross’ lawsuit details several attempts to get information from A New Missouri, including sending certified letters on two different occasions, and posting copies of his letters on the organization’s front doors.
Some of the certified letters “were returned as undeliverable despite being properly addressed,” he reported. “Defendants have not responded to any of (the) numerous attempts to contact them.”
As he had announced earlier, Gross told the court he’s asking to look at, and copy, a variety of organization records, including “all minutes of meetings” for A New Missouri’s board of directors; “all records of all actions” the directors took without a meeting; “all records of all actions” taken by the board’s committees; all accounting records; bylaws; and the names and addresses of board members.
And Gross told the court he wants the information for several reasons, including whether A New Missouri has acted “improperly as a nonprofit corporation under Missouri law;” or has violated Missouri’s Merchandise Practices Act, which prohibits nonprofits from using “deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, unfair practice or the concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact in connection with … the solicitation of any funds for any charitable purpose …”
He said the information also could help him decide whether he should complain to the federal IRS about possible violations of federal regulations.
Gross asks the court to order A New Missouri to make the records available, and to pay for his costs and legal fees.
In his Facebook post, Gross said: “This is our state. And we’re going to take it back.”