Missouri’s Republican Secretary of State, Jay Ashcroft, has opened an investigation into Senator-elect Josh Hawley (R-Missouri). Hawley allegedly abused his position as the state’s Attorney General in his bid for higher office.
Hawley defeated incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill in November.
The Kansas City Star reported in the run-up to the election that Hawley’s political advisers were directing the taxpayer-funded staff of the Attorney General’s office, confusing the chain of command. Three days later the American Democracy Legal Fund argued that Hawley was using public funds from the Attorney General’s office to support his bid for Senate.
“Josh Hawley’s flagrant abuse of his taxpayer funded office for his own political gain deserves immediate investigation,” said Brad Woodhouse, president of the American Democracy Legal Fund, in a public statement. “We’re heartened to see Secretary of State Ashcroft give this racket further scrutiny.”
Hawley, in his current capacity as Missouri Attorney General, has categorically denied these allegations.
“These allegations are totally meritless and nothing more than a partisan attempt to slander the work of the Attorney General’s Office. As we have said before, no taxpayer resources were ever expended for campaign purposes. And no government employees ever participated in campaign or political activities,” said spokeswoman Mary Campton.
It even found its way into being an electoral issue in the eleventh hour of the campaign, as Claire McCaskill called attention to the potential criminal behavior of her opponent.
“It is against the law to use state resources for political gain,” McCaskill, a former prosecutor, said in the waning hours of the campaign. “You cannot use taxpayer-paid staff to assist in any political purpose. The last attorney general went to prison for utilizing his office and his state staff to promote him politically. Those are the facts.”
Hawley is far from the only victorious Republican from 2018 whose work leading up to the elections has been seen as improper or suspicious. Governor-elect Brian Kemp (R-Georgia) was in charge of purging voter rolls before his election and Senator-elect Rick Scott (R-Florida) didn’t shy away from using his role as governor during the Florida recounts.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.