JEFFERSON CITY • A company listed as a contributor to Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ inaugural festivities says it did not donate money to help finance the event.
In another incident that shines a spotlight on the secrecy surrounding the Republican governor’s fundraising practices, a spokeswoman for New Balance Inc., a Boston-based athletic shoe manufacturer, said the company should not have been named as a benefactor to the January event.
“That’s not a company donation,” Amy Dow told the Post-Dispatch.
New Balance owner Jim Davis is listed as a benefactor to the inauguration, but Dow said the company does not comment on political contributions made by its workers. “As an employee, that’s everyone’s right to donate,” she said.
The amount of Davis’ donation remains secret because Greitens has refused to reveal amounts of inaugural donations.
In addition to being named as an inaugural donor, Davis also gave Greitens $50,000 during his successful campaign for governor.
A representative of the inaugural committee released a statement to the Post-Dispatch acknowledging the miscue.
“This was a database attribution and printing mix-up. We are grateful for Jim’s generous support,” the statement reads.
Questions about funding sources have swirled since Greitens launched his bid for office as a political newcomer.
After running on a platform that featured a call for more ethics laws, Greitens refused to make public the amount of money each benefactor made to his swearing-in ceremony and the events that followed it, including a ball in the Capitol.
“On inauguration day we released a list of our benefactors and all the people who contributed to the inauguration,” Greitens said in March.
The secrecy spurred state Rep. Mark Ellebracht, D-Liberty, to file legislation requiring future governors to publicly disclose donations to inaugural activities. “Corporations didn’t give the governor money just to be nice. They expect something in return,” Ellebracht told the Kansas City Star.
New Balance is among more than 80 inaugural benefactors that include Anheuser-Busch, Monsanto, Coca-Cola and Express Scripts. St. Louis-based Express Scripts, which also contributed to his campaign account, recently won a $250,000 no-bid contract to provide data for a prescription drug monitoring program championed by Greitens. Express Scripts contributed $10,000 to the inaugural effort.
Another inaugural benefactor was the Osage Nation, a Native-American tribe that publicly disclosed it had contributed $50,000 in hopes Greitens will sign off on its bid for a casino near Cuba, Mo.
Dow said she could not comment on why Davis would support Greitens, but pointed to the company’s presence in the region, including a shipping facility in Earth City and a website operation in St. Louis, collectively employing about 300 workers. Davis has drawn attention to the company through other political giving, including a $500,000 contribution to former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
During his 2016 campaign, Greitens refused to release his tax returns that would show how much he earned as an author, public speaker and head of The Mission Continues charity. He also received as much as $6 million in campaign contributions from nonprofit organizations that don’t have to disclose their donors.
After being sworn in, Greitens former campaign team formed A New Missouri, a nonprofit organization designed to support Greitens agenda. The organization has been running advertisements promoting Greitens and, during the legislative session, paid for ads critical of state lawmakers.
As a nonprofit, A New Missouri does not have to disclose its donors.
The governor also was slapped with a fine by the Missouri Ethics Commission for failing to report using the charity’s fundraising list to raise money for his political campaign.
Dow said neither the company nor Davis has contributed to The Mission Continues or A New Missouri.
“My understanding is no,” Dow said.