Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Missouri governor resigned because of judge's ruling on "dark money" non-profit, adding to questions about Eric Greitens' Greene Co. appointee Jerry Harmison

Eric Greitens
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens resigned yesterday just hours after a judge ruled that his "dark money" non-profit would have to turn over documents by the end of this week to a Missouri House investigative committee.

On the personal front, we have this question: Could the scandal engulf Greene County Associate Circuit Judge Jerry A. Harmison Jr., the Greitens appointee who is overseeing the "assault on a law enforcement officer" case against my wife, Carol? Prosecutors brought the "cover charge" against Carol after sheriff's deputies broke her arm, requiring trauma surgery for repair, during an unlawful eviction in September 2015.

It's too early to tell if Harmison could be part of the Greitens dark-money scandal, but we reported this yesterday:

We've uncovered evidence that Harmison knew he was going to be appointed shortly after Greitens' election and took steps to ensure the judgeship would be his. In other words, Harmison is a political hack, and his prime supporter now is a fallen political embarrassment. . . . 
We have obtained substantial evidence in recent days that Harmison has acted in a wildly unlawful and corrupt fashion on Carol's case. In essence, we've seen signs that Harmison is every bit as corrupt as the sleazy governor who appointed him. . . .

How was Harmison so certain that Greitens would appoint him as judge, even before Greitens took office? We don't have a clear-cut answer to that question yet, but much of the governor's problems stem from efforts to procure and hide campaign donations.

As for Eric Greitens and the real reason he resigned, here is this from The Kansas City Star, published at 11:34 a.m. yesterday:

Gov. Eric Greitens’ political nonprofit has until Friday to turn over documents to the Missouri House committee investigating allegations of misconduct against the governor as a precursor to possible impeachment.

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem issued a ruling Tuesday ordering the organization, A New Missouri Inc., to turn over communications and documents showing potential coordination among the nonprofit, the governor and the governor's campaign committee, as well as expenditures related to advertising.

The House committee issued subpoenas to the nonprofit and campaign seeking documents lawmakers believe might demonstrate efforts to illegally circumvent the state's campaign disclosure laws. Greitens' attorneys objected, and the House filed a lawsuit seeking an order from Beetem enforcing the subpoenas.

Roughly five hours after that was published, reports came that Greitens was set to resign. Perhaps the best summation of the resignation came from TPM editor Josh Marshall, in this tweet:

Okay, Greitens refuses to resign in the face of merciless, insanely damaging sex and blackmail scandal, resigns immediately when forced to turn over records of his dark money group? Gonna go out on a limb and say there's probably something bad there.

What could this mean for Greitens' donors, including (perhaps) Judge Jerry A. Harmison Jr.? Greitens has been dangling from a cliff for some time, due to allegations regarding dark money. Consider this from a report three weeks ago at St. Louis Public Radio, focusing on former Greitens aide Mike Hafner:

At the time, in early 2015, Hafner says he and allied consultants still thought Greitens was exploring a bid for lieutenant governor – not governor.

Hafner says he also was unaware when he drew up the call list that there could be legal problems with using The Mission Continues donor list without the charity’s specific approval.

Jerry Harmison Jr.
 Hafner has been subpoenaed several times.
Now, more than three years later, Hafner is among the witnesses at the center of probes by several law enforcement and governmental entities to determine if Greitens broke the law by his use of the list – or by his initial denials.

The Associated Press first broke the story of the donor list in October 2016. Greitens denied using it, but changed his stance in a “consent order’’ filed in April 2017 with the Missouri Ethics Commission. In the order, Greitens admitted using the donor list, but said it had been obtained by then-campaign manager Danny Laub in March 2015. Laub has denied that account.

Greitens now faces a felony criminal charge of misusing the donor list. The Missouri attorney general’s office, the St. Louis circuit attorney, the Ethics Commission and a House committee have all subpoenaed Hafner.

The report hints that donors, and not just the Greitens campaign, might have engaged in wrongdoing:

The donor list was crucial in those early months of fundraising, Hafner said. The Associated Press has calculated that at least $2 million was raised from the donor list for Greitens’ successful campaign for Missouri governor.

Hafner suspects the tally could be higher, because some of the donors broached early on the idea of forming nonprofit groups so that their contributions could not be tracked. “There was, in the very embryonic stages of the campaign, discussions already being had about C4s and LCs (two types of outside groups) and not disclosing the source of those contributions,” Hafner said.

It all is about deceiving the public -- and it got Greitens elected, but it also led to his fall:

Hafner said he simply wants to make sure the record is correct about his involvement in Greitens’ early campaign, and why he believes the public should pay attention.

“I do believe in transparency in campaigns,” Hafner said. He contended that Greitens was misleading the public when he appeared on St. Louis Public Radio’s Politically Speaking podcast in January 2016, and declared that his campaign was transparent and his donors would be public.

Although Hafner was with Brunner’s campaign by then, “I knew what they were already planning’’ with the secret money going to outside groups.

By Hafner’s calculation, “Eric had (at least) $6 million in untraceable money.”

Does this have an impact on other candidates, from both parties? Absolutely:

Greitens’ success during his campaign, and as governor, in raising so much from unidentified donors has caused some dissent within GOP and Democratic ranks. Some of that money has been used to run ads and phone banks attacking fellow Republicans in the Missouri General Assembly.

Hafner cited his previous work for such Republicans as former Sen. Jim Talent, former Gov. Matt Blunt and former Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder. “These guys put the party ahead of themselves. . . . Eric has kind of redefined all of that in the last year and a half, and I don’t think he’s redefined it for the better.”

Hafner said that the public needs to pay more attention. “Voters didn’t take into consideration the dark money that came into the race,” he said, referring to Greitens’ 2016 bid.

“That’s something people should be concerned about, going forward. People should know who’s funding these campaigns.”

Was Jerry Harmison (or his allies) helping to fund the Greitens campaign in an undisclosed and underhanded way? We will do our darnedest to find out in the coming weeks and months. We know this much already:

* Harmison has left a paper trail showing he is a crooked judge, who unlawfully favors right-wing, law-enforcement interests;

* Harmison took actions that show he knew, weeks before Greitens took office, that a judicial appointment was coming his way.

(To be continued)

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