St. Louis circuit attorney fined over use of campaign money

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has been fined $63,009 by the Missouri Ethics Commission for using campaign funds for personal expenses and failing to accurately report contributions and expenditures

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis circuit attorney who charged then-Gov. Eric Greitens with two crimes last year was fined $63,009 for campaign finance violations, an agreement published Wednesday shows.

Democratic Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, in a statement, blamed clerical errors for the violations and said a "Republican political operative" filed the complaints against her at the height of the investigations of Greitens, a Republican. One of the charges Greitens faced was related to alleged campaign improprieties; the other was related to an extramarital affair.

Gardner was a two-term state representative before being elected St. Louis' top prosecutor in November 2016.

The Missouri Ethics Commission, in its 25-page consent order , cited improper use of campaign funds for personal expenses and also cited Gardner for failing to accurately report contributions and expenditures.

Among the findings: Gardner used $2,855 in campaign funds to pay for housing costs between April 2015 and July 2016. The consent order said the Missouri House reimbursed Gardner for the same housing cost.

Gardner said her campaign committee will replace its treasurer with someone "with an in-depth understanding of accounting and campaign finance reporting."

She said that while her opponents may seek to use the fine against her, "I will not allow this to serve as a distraction to the important work required to make our city a safer and more just place for everyone."

The agreement allowed Gardner to pay just $6,314 if given within 45 days. She paid the fine Friday.

Gardner faced intense scrutiny for charging the governor after he admitted in January 2017 that he'd had an affair with his St. Louis hairdresser in 2015. Greitens, like Gardner, was elected in 2016. The former Navy SEAL officer was seen as a rising star in GOP politics before the scandal.

Gardner charged him with invasion of privacy for allegedly taking an unauthorized photo of the woman during a sexual encounter at his St. Louis home, and threatening to use it if she ever spoke of the affair.

Then in April, Gardner charged Greitens with tampering with computer data for allegedly providing his political fundraiser with the donor list of a veterans' charity he founded.

Both charges were dropped in May . Greitens, also facing a House investigation, resigned June 1 as part of an agreement to drop the computer charge.