St. Louis attorney’s lawsuit seeks records of group affiliated with Greitens

By Eric Berger, Staff Writer

A Jewish former assistant attorney general of Missouri has filed a lawsuit seeking to have a nonprofit affiliated with Eric Greitens disclose records, including information on its donors.

Greitens, who is also Jewish, resigned as governor last month hours after a Cole County judge ordered his nonprofit, A New Missouri Inc., to turn over documents to a Missouri House committee. The 10-member committee was investigating Greitens.

The House committee has since ended its investigation, but the chairman of the committee described the nonprofit as a “criminal enterprise” and said that Greitens’ actions warranted impeachment. 

Elad Gross, 30, would still like to see those records from the dark-money group.

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“It appears that the organization was used to funnel millions of dollars into Missouri to influence our policy and decisions that our legislators were making without having to disclose their donors,” said Gross, who requested records from the nonprofit before filing the suit on June 23 in Cole County.

Gross first became interested in the nonprofit, he said, after it funded attack ads against State Sen. Rob Schaaf, a Republican who had criticized Greitens for his reliance on dark money. When Greitens resigned quickly after the judge’s decision, Gross requested the records.

He contends in the suit that the Missouri law requires such a nonprofit to disclose its donors. 

“When the House joined about every other elected official in the state in dropping their investigation, I accelerated those requests because I was worried that the organization would destroy those records,” said Gross. Prosecutors have also dropped charges against Greitens related to allegations that he took a partially-nude photo of his mistress without her consent and used a donor list from his nonprofit, The Mission Continues, to raise political campaign funds.

“The law is pretty clear to me; obviously [A New Missouri’s] attorney is disagreeing with me,” said Gross, who also leads a nonprofit aimed at providing educational opportunities to at-risk children. 

Catherine Hanaway, a former Republican House speaker representing A New Missouri, told the Kansas City Star that “Gross is clearly a Democrat operative trying to prolong the Greitens saga for political purposes.”

Gross thinks that if he succeeds in the suit, it could have implications for other politicians’ use of dark money groups. 

“I would think that some of the other states would use similar laws to try to bring about transparency,” he said.

Gross said he had also been working alone on a report about the use of dark money in Missouri. But he has since requested help in his effort to promote transparency and nearly 30 people have volunteered, he said. The report will be published at Nomodarkmoney.org.

Gross said he met Greitens when the former Navy SEAL was still leading The Mission Continues, a nonprofit aimed at helping veterans adjust to life after they serve. An  acquaintance connected Gross, who was starting the education nonprofit, to Greitens because both had attended Duke University. Gross recalls that Greitens showed him his nonprofit and helped in “some of the paperwork that I was doing.”

“He seemed like a pretty decent guy, obviously I didn’t know him very well,” said Gross. “I have been highly critical of his behavior as governor of Missouri, and it’s just highly unfortunate all around.”

Gross was named an Unsung Hero by the Jewish Light in 2016 for his work with the education nonprofit.

 

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