The Missouri Secretary of State’s office will investigate allegations that incoming Sen. Josh Hawley improperly tapped state resources to boost his public profile ahead of his campaign to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Within days of Hawley becoming the state attorney general, two political consultants based in Washington began instructing his taxpayer-paid staff on how to shape his image ahead of a campaign for the Senate, according to a Kansas City Star report shortly before Election Day.
While Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s office confirmed it would investigate in a letter to American Democracy Legal Fund President Brad Woodhouse Thursday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, but a spokeswoman for the AG’s office called the allegations “meritless.”
Ashcroft, like Hawley, is a Republican.
The office is “delighted to cooperate” and “and put these ridiculous allegations to bed once and for all,” Mary Compton told the Post-Dispatch.
According to the Star’s report, the Republican operatives met with the attorney general’s office staff at the state Supreme Court building during work hours, leaving some staffers confused about whether they should report to their own chief-of-staff or Hawley’s burgeoning campaign team, according to the paper.
Hawley’s conduct “appears to demonstrate a misuse of public funds,” wrote the Democratic watchdog group the American Democracy Legal Fund in its Nov. 2 complaint, citing the report.
Woodhouse celebrated the news in a statement.
“Josh Hawley’s flagrant abuse of his taxpayer funded office for his own political gain deserves immediate investigation,” he said. “We’re heartened to see Secretary of State Ashcroft give this racket further scrutiny.”
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