JEFFERSON CITY • Before Missouri voters elected Eric Greitens to be their governor, the political novice was set to appear with then-Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder at an event in Kinder’s hometown of Cape Girardeau.
The day before the event, Kinder, who lost to Greitens in a four-way GOP primary that August, said he wasn’t coming. He sent Greitens a lengthy email explaining why.
Kinder said he was still endorsing the future governor, but would not appear with him, in part because of perceived hypocrisy and a lack of transparency from the former Navy SEAL.
Kinder also said he had not received a call, as Greitens had promised, from Nicholas Britt, the treasurer of a group called Seals for Truth, a Greitens-allied group which dropped $1.975 million into Greitens’ campaign coffers but never disclosed who was behind the donation.
“For now, having had no call from Nicholas Britt, which had been promised, and there having been left too many questions unanswered, I regret that I will not be joining you at the town hall tomorrow in Cape Girardeau,” Kinder wrote to Greitens on Oct. 23, 2016, two weeks before the election.
The letter may carry little significance now, but it underscores the reluctance some Republicans had in enthusiastically backing Greitens, who bashed establishment politics and was once a Democrat. Kinder also foreshadowed some of the issues that would dog Greitens throughout his tenure — mainly a lack of transparency.
In his letter, Kinder mentioned another political action committee formed before the August GOP primary. That group was called LG PAC. The committee appeared to be in support of Kinder, but it was actually formed by Greitens’ allies and worked on Greitens’ behalf.
“LG PAC was designed, in a simply astounding and breathtaking act of intentional disinformation, to appear as though it were on behalf of Peter Kinder. What an astonishing deception,” Kinder wrote to Greitens. “In due course it transpired, and the world learned, that this PAC was money raised for and laboring on behalf of Eric Greitens.”
Kinder said Greitens once lectured Republicans about the “dastardly offense” of dark money, but turned to it when it suited him.
The email was first reported by Missouri Scout on Monday. Kinder confirmed its authenticity to the Post-Dispatch.
“I’ve seen a lot of tricks in politics, but I’d never seen that one before,” Kinder told the newspaper.
Kinder, in his letter, also expanded on his concerns regarding Seals for Truth.
“Missouri voters are wondering: To whom are you, as the next Governor of our state, beholden?” Kinder continued. “You’ve stated over and over that yours is a campaign dedicated to cleaning up a corrupt Jefferson City, and bringing transparency to that locality. Where is the transparency here?”
Kinder went on the criticize Greitens for not releasing his tax returns during the campaign.
“What conclusions should the public draw from a candidate alleging corruption throughout Jeff City, and claiming to be the cleansing agent against that corruption, who refuses to make this rather routine disclosure?” Kinder asked.
In office, Greitens has operated opaquely.
Members of his transition team were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements. His allies formed a group last year called A New Missouri, which functions as a sort of campaign committee but doesn’t have to reveal its donors. Greitens rarely takes questions from the media.
Greitens is also facing a lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Court over he and his team’s use of Confide, a smartphone app which automatically deletes text messages after they are read.
Kinder, in a statement, called on Greitens to resign last week after a Missouri House committee released a report containing accusations of violence and sexual misconduct against the governor.
Austin Chambers, the governor’s campaign manager, did not respond to a request for comment. It is unclear whether Greitens wrote back to Kinder.