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story.lead_photo.caption Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens reads from a prepared statement as he announces his resignation during a news conference, Tuesday, May 29, 2018, at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City, Mo. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

An ethics investigation found "probable cause" Thursday that the election campaign of former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens broke the law by not reporting that it cooperated with a political action committee during his successful 2016 bid for the state's top office.

The Missouri Ethics Commission found that ads paid for by LG PAC "were express advocacy or its functional equivalent," and that they were done "in cooperation" with Greitens' gubernatorial campaign. The commission said there's probable cause that Greitens' campaign violated finance laws by not reporting those ads as a gift.

The findings also concluded that Greitens' campaign likely violated financial reporting rules by not disclosing a poll given to the campaign that was paid for by A New Missouri. A New Missouri is a nonprofit that supported Greitens during his time as governor.

The commission ordered Greitens' campaign to pay a roughly $178,000 fine, but he only has to pay $38,000 within 45 days and the rest will be stayed. The campaign would only have to pay the rest of the money if he were to break more campaign finance laws in the next two years.

Greitens, a Republican, resigned in 2018 amid allegations of sexual misconduct and campaign violations as he battled mounting legal bills and the pressures of defending against possible impeachment and a criminal trial.

In its findings, the Missouri Ethics Commission wrote that it didn't find any evidence that Greitens personally knew about the campaign finance issues. "However, candidates are ultimately responsible for all reporting requirements," the commission said.

Greitens issued a statement saying that the commission's report exonerates him.

"I'm grateful that the truth has won out, but this was never really about me — they launched this attack because we were fighting for the people of Missouri," Greitens said.

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Associated Press writer Jim Salter contributed to this report from St. Louis.

 

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