Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, who defeated incumbent Claire McCaskill for Senate earlier this year, is under investigation after a liberal group accused him of misusing taxpayer-funded resources.
The office of Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft confirmed the investigation to the American Democracy Legal Fund (ADLF), the group that filed the complaint, in a letter provided to Fox News.
Both Hawley and Ashcroft are Republicans.
In its complaint, the ADLF alleged Hawley had political consultants “direct state, taxpayer-paid staff to undertake tasks that would raise Hawley’s profile” in his quest for the Senate seat.
The complaint came after an October report in The Kansas City Star newspaper which said out-of-state consultants gave Hawley’s attorney general staff members – through email, text messages and in person – tasks to shape his agenda in his office.
Khristine A. Heisinger, deputy general counsel for the secretary of state, confirmed in a letter to ADLF President Brad Woodhouse that “this office will commence an investigation into the alleged offense.” She asked the ADLF to turn over any evidence about the alleged offense.
“Josh Hawley’s flagrant abuse of his taxpayer-funded office for his own political gain deserves immediate investigation,” Woodhouse said in a statement provided to Fox News. “We’re heartened to see Secretary of State Ashcroft give this racket further scrutiny.”
Mary Compton, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, told Fox News the office is “delighted to cooperate” in the investigation to “put these ridiculous allegations to bed once and for all.”
“These allegations are totally meritless and nothing more than a partisan attempt to slander the work of the Attorney General’s Office,” she said. “As we have said before, no taxpayer resources were ever expended for campaign purposes. And no government employees ever participated in the campaign or political activities.”
Missouri law states: “No contribution or expenditure of public funds shall be made directly by any officer, employee or agent of any political subdivision to advocate, support or oppose any ballot measure or candidate for public office.”
After the accusations first surfaced, McCaskill – a former prosecutor who has held her Senate seat since 2007 – compared Hawley’s alleged actions to that of a previous Missouri attorney general who went to prison in 1993 after he used state resources for political reasons, according to the Post-Dispatch.
“It is against the law to use state resources for political gain,” McCaskill said. “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.”