Another day, another case of glaring Republican corruption and criminality.
According to The Hill, Missouri’s Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has officially opened an investigation into how the state’s lame-duck Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley ran his office during the most recent election cycle. Hawley won a Senate election during the midterms, unseating Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, and as such will be vacating the AG’s office to assume his new duties.
Before the election, the American Democracy Legal Fund, a pro-Democratic Party organization, contacted Ashcroft’s office and claimed that Hawley was using “public funds as Attorney General to support his candidacy for U.S. Senate.” If true, it would be a gross abuse of his powers.
The investigation revolves around Hawley’s scheme to use outside consultants before starting his campaign for the Senate. Previously, The Kansas City Star revealed that Hawley hired political consultants from outside Missouri to advise his staff within the state’s Attorney General’s office. The problem is that those staff members were paid for by the taxpayers, and as such shouldn’t have been used to help with the partisan campaign. Some of the staff were uncomfortable with the activity, according to The Star ,and were confused by how the chain of command functioned.
The Star found emails from the consultants to the AG staff which discussed ways to help make Hawley a more appealing Senate candidate. Furthermore, when the consultants visited Missouri, they staged strategy meetings inside the state’s Supreme Court building — another abuse of the public trust.
“Having campaign staff run meetings on government property does not necessarily run afoul of Missouri law, as long as the meetings were not explicitly political. If the meetings were campaign focused, however, they could violate a constitutional prohibition on use of state resources for personal or political purposes,” write Lindsay Wise, Jason Hancock, and Steve Vockrodt of The Kansas City Star.
The Hill has obtained a letter from Ashcroft’s Deputy General Counsel Khristine Heisinger to Brad Woodhouse, who works with the American Democracy Legal Fund. The letter, dated today, reads: “This office will commence an investigation into the alleged offense.” Additionally, the letter requests that ADLF share any information it may have on the topic.
It’s still too soon to tell what will come of this new probe, but if it is indeed discovered and proven that Hawley illegally exploited his position as Attorney General to seize a Senate seat, he should immediately resign the moment he’s sworn in.