Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson announced Friday he will not to file charges regarding information given to his office by the office of Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley regarding an investigation into alleged wrongdoings by Gov. Eric Greitens.
In a news release issued Friday morning, Richardson said, "This office has been provided information by the Missouri Attorney General's Office about that agency's investigation into the governor's gubernatorial campaign. After due consideration, I have decided not to file a criminal charge suggested by the Attorney General's Office. My office will have no further comment on this matter."
Attorney General's Office spokeswoman Mary Compton confirmed in an emailed statement Friday that the office had referred evidence of possible misdemeanor criminal violations related to campaign finance documents filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
"Prosecuting attorneys have the discretion whether to pursue criminal charges, but the office stands by its determination that the information provided supports a determination of probable cause," Compton said.
The Kansas City Star reported April 27 that the attorney general had turned over evidence to Richardson's office accusing Greitens of knowingly filling false campaign finance disclosure reports to the Missouri Ethics Commission. The Star cited "a source with knowledge of the investigation."
Filing a false campaign disclosure is a Class A misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail, according to state law.
"From the beginning, our position has been the governor and his campaign wouldn't and didn't do anything to hurt the charity he founded," Greitens' campaign attorney Catherine Hanaway said, as the Associated Press reported.
Greitens faces a felony charge in St. Louis of tampering with computer data for allegedly disclosing a donor list of The Mission Continues, a veterans charity he helped found in 2007, to his political fundraiser in 2015 without the nonprofit's permission. Richardson had jurisdiction to decide whether an additional charge should have been filed related to an amended campaign finance report that Greitens' campaign filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission in April 2017.
That report, which was the result of an ethics complaint settlement, listed the charity donor list as an in-kind contribution valued at $600 from Greitens' campaign manager, Danny Laub, the AP reported. Laub testified to the attorney general this year that he wasn't the source of the donor list.
Records released this month by the House Special Investigatory Committee on Oversight show Greitens himself received the donor list in 2014 so he could call key supporters to explain that he was stepping down as CEO. The legislative report indicated Greitens later directed political aides to work off the charity's list to raise money for his gubernatorial campaign.
Later Friday, Hawley asserted Greitens lacked the legal authority to hire private attorneys to represent the governor's office on impeachment proceedings without consent of the attorney general's office, which Greitens' office disputed, according to the AP.
Attorneys Ross Garber and Eddie Greim are representing Greitens' office in potential impeachment proceedings as a speical legislative session begins, with Garber to be paid $320 an hour and Greim's law firm $340 an hour from taxpayer funds.
Hawley said Greitens' office hadn't sought permission from his office to hire private attorneys.
Greitens spokesman Parker Briden said it's a long-established fact that governors can hire attorneys to represent them in an official capacity, the AP reported.
News Tribune reporter Jeff Haldiman and the Associated Press contributed to this article.