Election 2019 Politics

The Republican who is running for Secretary of State in Kentucky has ties to former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens. Greitens resigned last year amid accusations of campaign impropriety.

Attorney Michael Adams is running against Democrat Heather French Henry, the former commissioner of the Department of Veterans Affairs, in the election on Nov. 5. The Secretary of State oversees all elections in Kentucky.

Adams serves as a board member as well as the secretary and treasurer of A New Missouri, a dark money nonprofit created by Greitens. Missouri lawmakers alleged the nonprofit was designed to sidestep campaign disclosure laws and that Greitens illegally coordinated with it.

Adams also represented Greitens and his campaign in a consent order in 2017 acknowledging campaign finance violations: specifically, that the campaign did not disclose its acquisition of a donor list belonging to a charity the Governor founded years before. The consent order followed a state ethics investigation.

Greitens resigned in 2018, amid a litany of scandals including a threat of impeachment, a woman who alleged he blackmailed her with photos and forced her to perform oral sex, and a felony indictment tied to that accusation. The Kansas City Star also reported a number of additional accusations involving campaign finance laws, including allegations he explored the idea of raising money from foreign donors and used shell companies to hide the source of campaign donations.

Greitens’ campaign is still paying Adams’ firm, according to the Kansas City Star, which reported the Adams-Greitens connection this week. Adams has also worked with Vice President Mike Pence; he served as the counsel for Pence’s political action committee, Great America Committee.

“Legal ethics rules do not permit attorneys to comment about their representations unless at the direction of their clients,” Adams wrote in an emailed statement. “I represent high-profile clients at the highest levels of American government and politics due to my reputation for integrity. In all matters in which I’ve engaged in my distinguished legal career, I have conducted myself ethically and complied with the law, and no legal authority has found to the contrary.”

Adams resigned his position on the State Board of Elections to run for office. He has been critical of current Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and her father, Jerry Lundergan, who have been accused of campaign wrongdoing. Lundergan was convicted last month for illegal campaign contributions to Grimes’ 2014 Senate campaign.

In a recent interview with WFPL, Adams said he wants to fix corruption, and that actions like Lundergan’s put Kentucky’s elections at risk.

“If you look at what has actually happened in Kentucky, it’s not been foreign threats that have tainted our elections. It’s been domestic threats,” Adams said.

This story has been updated with Adams’ response.

Amina Elahi is WFPL's City Reporter.