In recent weeks, state Rep. Jeremy Munson of Lake Crystal has denied connections between his campaign for Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District and a libertarian activist charged in April with raping a woman in Pennsylvania in 2013.
But while Munson has said he is not working with that man, Cliff Maloney Jr., he said he is working with another operative, Justin Greiss, who also left the libertarian youth organization Maloney led after facing his own allegations of misconduct.
Munson said he is paying for the services of Greiss, who was vice president of grassroots for Young Americans for Liberty at the time Maloney was president.
In 2021, YAL placed Greiss and Maloney on administrative leave while the organization investigated unspecified allegations. Just prior to that, people affiliated with YAL made accusations against Greiss and Maloney on Twitter under the hashtag #YALtoo that ranged from sexist behavior to sexual assault.
Maloney, who denied allegations, was subsequently fired. Greiss was no longer with YAL shortly after, but it’s not clear if he was fired.
“Justin Greiss is the person that I work with on the door-knocking team,” Munson said on Saturday during an interview at the state Republican convention in Rochester. “That’s what’s important to win this election, it’s winning at the doors, it’s actually turning out voters.”
Munson is one of the front-runners in the May 24 Republican primary to replace the late U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn. His connections to Maloney drew scrutiny after The Daily Beast reported in late April that Maloney is facing rape charges he denies in connection to drugging and raping a college student at the University of Pittsburgh.
Munson paid $11,533 to a firm, 5411 LLC, which has little public presence. The news outlet Florida Politics reported a 5411 LLC in Florida has the same business address as Maloney’s home there.
Munson’s campaign filings show a Delaware address for 5411 LLC that is home to a different company, Incorporating Services, Ltd.
Munson did, however, tell MinnPost that he believes Maloney is “part of” that firm. In his comments at the convention, Munson insisted Maloney is not part of his campaign. Instead, he said, he is working with Greiss on door-knocking and other services.
In addition to the accusations of assault and other issues raised in 2021, some said top leadership at YAL failed to address concerns about the alleged behavior.
The allegations engulfed the organization. Maloney’s firing was publicly announced. And soon after, Greiss was no longer employed by YAL , according to his LinkedIn page. A phone call and emails seeking comment from YAL have not been returned. Florida records for a company in Florida, Mobilize the Message, list both Maloney and Greiss as managers.
Munson spoke favorably of Greiss, saying he “built a team” at YAL. “In fact, people here today (at the GOP state convention) that worked with that same organization — it’s known nationwide as having thousands of activists get out and knock on doors,” Munson said.
Munson said Young Americans for Liberty helped him in his 2020 state House campaign, and he said he “made phone calls” to Maloney before launching his congressional campaign. “I don’t know people in Washington, D.C. and trying to find a good consultant that would help my campaign,” Munson said.
Munson also said the allegations against Maloney were from a decade ago and that incident didn’t happen recently. He said he hopes “this investigation is done,” adding it’s “really disturbing news” and that Maloney won’t be involved in his campaign at all.
After the convention, when MinnPost learned Greiss faced allegations of his own while at YAL, Munson did not respond to repeated follow up questions about his work with Greiss or his knowledge of the accusations. Greiss and Maloney have also not responded to requests for comment.
Jennifer Carnahan, another 1st District Republican candidate, called Thursday for Munson to bow out of the race for his ties to Maloney, but not Greiss, calling it “highly disturbing that a man seeking public office would so passively dismiss multiple accusations of rape as a ‘decades-old incident.’”
Carnahan, who is Hagedorn’s widow, has faced troubles of her own for ties to figures accused of sex crimes. She resigned under pressure as chair of the state GOP after several scandals, including top donor and associate Anton Lazzaro being indicted on charges of child sex trafficking. Carnahan says she did not know about the alleged behavior.
FEC records show many candidates across the country paying for services from the same entity Munson paid, 5411 LLC. Some reports have a 5411 LLC listed as based in Texas. Others in Delaware. But they appear to be the same.
The people who paid 5411 LLC that listed the Delaware location on Munson’s filing include Republican candidate Paul Broun of Georgia and GOP candidate Ken Richardson of South Carolina. U.S. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Nancy Mace of South Carolina are among those reporting payments to 5411 LLC with an address in Texas — the same address listed for Greiss in the records for Mobilize the Message.
Broun told the Atlanta Journal Constitution earlier in May that charges against Maloney were disturbing, but that he wouldn’t stop working with him. One 2021 report to the FEC lists a payment to 5411 LLC with the same address listed for Maloney’s firm Mobilize the Message.
As the YAL scandals broke, Emma Meshell Phillips, who at the time was a spokeswoman for YAL, said on Twitter that “it should not have taken a social media movement for these changes to be made.”
“The ‘proper channels’ have failed,” she said, noting she was speaking in a personal capacity, not as an employee. “And an ongoing discussion is being had at YAL about how we can make sure that never happens again.”