Governor’s lakeside house has complicated financial history

By Kaitlin Washburn, Kathryn Hardison, Daphne Psaledakis and Max Fillion
Columbia Missourian

JEFFERSON CITY — Shortly after the start of his term last year, Gov. Eric Greitens and his wife, Sheena, bought a lakeside home intended to be an escape.

But even this secluded getaway can’t escape the twists and turns of his first year in office.

The governor used one limited-liability company (LLC) to buy a home and another to sell his old one. Two attorneys are listed in legal documents related to the house. They’ve both donated to the governor and worked with him on past projects.

The lake house was purchased for $750,000 and paid off a year later, six months after the governor sold his St. Louis house for $185,000 more than he had paid for it four years earlier.

The first LLC, J & J Escape, was created in January 2017. The governor and his wife used it to purchase the property, which has ties to Mark Bobak, a major donor to Greitens. An LLC is often used to purchase real estate to reduce liability or maintain secrecy.

The lake house property is located at Innsbrook Resort in Warren County, a drive of more than an hour from the Governor’s Mansion. The $675,000 mortgage for the house was paid in full in February of this year.

The listed address for J & J Escape LLC is Bobak’s private residence. The address also receives official county mail for the Innsbrook property.

The mortgage of the Innsbrook home also matched the amount the governor received for the sale of his St. Louis residence after he ascended to the governorship. That house sold for far more than its assessed value at the time of the sale in 2017.

Donor ties

Bobak is a lawyer at the St. Louis-based law firm Williams, Venker and Sanders. He was influential in establishing Greitens’ nonprofit, The Mission Continues, and he held various leadership positions for Anheuser-Busch from 1992 to 2007, including a three-year stint as chief legal officer.

He did not respond to requests for comment before press time.

The attorney also played a role in Greitens’ election. He attended a December 2014 campaign meeting where Greitens and other members of his campaign staff reviewed a list of major donors to The Mission Continues, according to a report issued Wednesday by a House investigative committee. The use of this list is now under investigation by that committee and the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office.

Bobak and his wife, Paula, have contributed to Greitens’ campaign, including $25,000 in February 2015, almost $2,000 in September 2015 and $100 in December of the same year, according to the Missouri Ethics Commission.

In February 2017, Greitens and his wife took out a $675,000 mortgage from Carrollton Bank for the lake house, which has six bedrooms, four bathrooms and sits on more than 2.5 acres. They paid off the entire mortgage a year later, according to county documents.

Bobak is on the board of directors at CBX Corp, the company that owns Carrollton Bank,  said Tom Hough, the bank’s CEO.

J & J Escape LLC paid property taxes for the house in 2017, according to county tax documents.

Frederick Kruger, a business attorney who, like Bobak, also donated to Greitens and once worked for Anheuser-Busch, is listed as the registered agent for J & J Escape LLC, according to records from the secretary of state. Kruger’s office is also the listed address for J & J Escape LLC on the personal financial disclosure form that Greitens filed with the state this month, even though Warren County documents list Bobak’s address for the LLC.

Kruger could not be reached for comment before press time.

Austin Chambers, who managed Greitens’ campaign and is still a political adviser to the governor, also listed the Bobaks’ home as his address in the Missouri Ethics Commission’s records from the campaign. Chambers could not be reached for comment.

St. Louis house

Greitens’ house in the Central West End of St. Louis sold in August 2017. The sale occurred six months after the purchase of the Innsbrook getaway. The $675,000 sale price for the St. Louis house was identical to the mortgage for the Innsbrook home.

They bought the St. Louis home for $490,000 in 2013. According to county assessor documents, the only documented improvements the Greitenses made were updates to the bathrooms.

The ownership of the home shifted from the couple to another limited liability corporation, Sheena Greitens LLC, before they sold it.

The home was sold to a 31-year-old Washington University professor. The sale price was $155,100 more than the appraised value the year it was purchased, according to an assessment of the home.

Greitens’ spokesperson, Parker Briden, would not comment on any of the governor’s real-estate transactions. He said they weren’t related to the official business of the office.

Missourian reporters Stephanie Sandoval and Max Cotton contributed to this report.