Lawmaker, University Cite Contrary Findings on Greitens Book
A lawmaker who led an investigation into former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens released a memo Friday outlining how Greitens politically benefited from a nonprofit grant he received to write a book, though the university that administered it found nothing improper.
The contrary conclusions came about a month after the former Republican governor resigned from office while facing potential impeachment over various allegations of political and sexual misconduct.
Greitens received a grant in 2011 to write and promote a book entitled book "Resilience," which ultimately was published as he was preparing to run for governor in 2015.
Washington University in St. Louis initiated a review of the grant last month after a Missouri House panel investigating Greitens released testimony from a former political aide who said he received grant funds to promote the book.
"Based on the materials available to us and within the scope of our review, we found nothing improper about the administration or use of the grant funds," Julie Hail Flory, the assistant vice chancellor for campus communications, said in an email Friday to The Associated Press.
Greitens has remained out of the public eye since leaving office. A former Greitens spokesman did not have any immediate comment Friday about the university's review.
But Republican Rep. Jay Barnes, the chairman of the special House investigatory panel, said the committee has additional documents and testimony that Washington University did not possess.
Barnes released a memo later Friday to the AP asserting that Greitens had misrepresented how much he worked on the book, used grant funds for political purposes and failed to fully disclose his income sources on conflict-of-interest forms filed with the university.
Washington University administered the grant on behalf of the John Templeton Foundation based in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.
The foundation's grant agreement specifically prohibits the use of funds "to influence the outcome of any specific public election." Washington University's policies also prohibit grant funds from being used for campaign activities.
Neither the university nor the foundation has disclosed the amount of the grant. But Barnes' memo said the grant was for $362,083, including $80,000 paid as a salary to Greitens between August 2011 and June 2013 on the assumption he was spending 40 percent of his time working on the book project.
An additional $60,000 from the grant was to go to electronic or media-related expenses, Barnes said.
A marketing memo associated with the book grant outlined a four-prong strategy, with half of the resources focused on national media and the rest split among "family-values media," social media and Missouri-based media.
In September 2014, however, the company responsible for the $18,000 "family-values media" campaign sent an email to a Greitens' assistant thanking her for "the opportunity to reshape our proposal given the more targeted nature of a 'conservatives only' media campaign for Resilience."
Barnes' memo says Greitens agreed to the "conservative only" marketing campaign to begin in February 2015 and wrap up in early April 2015. The timing coincided with the launch of Greitens' political fundraising committee in February 2015. He ran for governor while portraying himself as a conservative outsider willing to shake up a corrupt political establishment.
A House report released May 2 had included testimony from former Greitens aide Danny Laub, who said he was paid both by Greitens and the book grant in early 2015 to simultaneously promote Greitens' political aspirations and the release of his book.
Barnes' newly released memo says Greitens sent an email to Laub in February 2015 asking about conservatives on Facebook and whether "there is some way to do some targeted advertising that makes sense politically."
Earlier this week, Barnes publicly released a letter to colleagues in which he said the House committee likely would have voted in favor of impeaching Greitens on numerous grounds. Barnes said in that letter that his panel had evidence suggesting Greitens may have engaged in fraud in the grant application.
He said the committee also had documents raising "suspicions of literary fraud." The book "Resilience" was published as a series of letters from Greitens to a fellow Navy SEAL who was going through a tough time after his military service. But an earlier draft of the manuscript was not originally structured as a series of letters.
Flory said the university had shared the findings of its internal review with the Templeton Foundation and has cooperated "with any legislative or law enforcement inquiries regarding the grant."
Officials at the Templeton Foundation have not responded to AP questions this week about whether it has conducted its own review.