Missouri attorney general subpoenas Greitens charity

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley speaks during a news conference March 23, 2018.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley speaks during a news conference March 23, 2018.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said Friday he's issued 15 subpoenas so far in his office's investigation into The Mission Continues - the nonprofit organization Gov. Eric Greitens founded in 2007 - and whether the charity illegally shared donor information with Greitens' campaign for governor.

"This is a very active investigation, and it is progressing by the day," Hawley told reporters during a nearly 20-minute news conference Friday morning. "I am pleased with the cooperation that we have received thus far from individuals who have been subpoenaed and who have responded - and I am pleased with the evidence, thus far, that we've been able to collect.

"However, I would strongly counsel those who have or will receive a subpoena from this office to cooperate fully."

Failure to do so "is itself a separate criminal violation under Missouri's statutes," he noted.

The attorney general said his office has subpoenaed The Mission Continues; the Greitens Group; and the governor's campaign entity, Greitens for Missouri - including current and former staff members of each organization.

Hawley also said some subpoenas were issued "to individuals whose names and affiliations I cannot disclose without compromising the trajectory of the investigation."

He would not say if the governor was among those subpoenaed - and would not identify any individual by name who had been subpoenaed.

"Rest assured, we will not hesitate to subpoena anyone who is relevant to this investigation," Hawley said, "and we look forward to talking with relevant parties."

The attorney general launched his investigation after The Associated Press reported that Greitens had used a Mission Continues email to send meeting invitations to political consultants, as Greitens was preparing to run for governor in 2015.

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, with penalties ranging up to the loss of their tax-exempt status. The AP reported the legal consequences for individual charity directors are less clear.

Hawley said he's sharing some of the information he's received with the St. Louis circuit attorney's office - which already is prosecuting the governor on a felony invasion-of-privacy charge for reportedly taking a partially nude picture of a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair in March 2015 without her permission.

Susan Ryan, a spokesman for Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, says her office is investigating The Mission Continues separately from the attorney general's probe, The Associated Press reported Friday.

Hawley also said he's sharing his investigation's information - and the evidence gathered in a recent probe into the governor's office's use of the Confide smartphone application that erases messages as soon as they are read - with the House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight that is looking at the governor's legal situation.

That committee's Friday afternoon meeting was canceled - but another meeting was scheduled for noon Tuesday at the Jefferson City Police station, 401 Monroe St., where the committee has held all but one of its meetings.

Those meetings have been closed to the public and media, and Chairman Jay Barnes and the other six members have not commented on what issues they've covered or who their witnesses have been.

Barnes didn't respond Friday to a request for a comment on Hawley's comments.

Hawley declined to say whether he has been in contact with other agencies, like the FBI.

"I can't speak to that," he said. "All I will say is that this investigation is very active, and we're very committed to getting the facts - whatever they may be - and following those where they may lead. We'll keep the other relevant law enforcement bodies who are interested, or are working on similar things, apprised of our efforts."

Hawley said his investigation is "moving very thoroughly and, I would say, in a very no-holds-barred fashion," but he has set no deadline for ending it.

"My timeline is as long as it takes to get the evidence that we need, to see what the truth is," he explained. "I want to emphasize that - we have not reached any conclusions."

Hawley said anyone who thinks they have information about Greitens and The Mission Continues should contact his office by telephone, email or online at ago.mo.gov.

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