The Buzz

GOP attorney general candidates in Missouri exchange attacks in new TV ads

Kurt Schaefer and Josh Hawley
Kurt Schaefer and Josh Hawley

A campaign that already featured lawsuits, ethics complaints and accusations of public corruption took another ugly turn this past week as both Republican candidates for Missouri attorney general launched attack ads.

Josh Hawley, a University of Missouri law professor, struck first with a television ad using old footage of his opponent for the nomination, Missouri Sen. Kurt Schaefer, calling himself a “moderate.”

The ad hangs on the charge that has long dogged Schaefer — that after years of representing a Democratic-leaning Senate district based in Columbia, his politics took a sharp conservative turn when he decided to run for attorney general.

See the ad by clicking here.

Schaefer responded with a television ad accusing Hawley of having done legal work for a terrorist. In particular, the ad points to documents showing Hawley working for Abdul Maalik Muhammad, better known as the “American Taliban.”

Muhammad wanted to grow a beard in accordance with his Muslim faith but was blocked by an Arkansas Department of Correction policy that forbids beards except for diagnosed dermatological problems. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2015 that the prison policy violated a federal statute designed to protect the religious exercise of prisoners.

Hawley says his name was incorrectly included on documents as a member of the legal team that worked for Muhammad. He says Schaefer knows this and is spreading “flat-out lies” in his latest ad.

See the ad by clicking here.

Assisting Hawley in pushing back on the ad is former Republican senator Jack Danforth, who told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Schaefer’s ad is “absolutely awful” and “raises a question about the person making the charge.”

Danforth also contributed $10,000 to Hawley’s campaign on Wednesday.

Schaefer is also facing attacks from a super PAC slamming him for supporting legislation that allowed foreign ownership of Missouri farmland. An ad produced by the group ends with images of Schaefer, a Chinese flag and a little girl waving an American flag, with an announcer asking, “Whose side is he on?”

Jason Hancock: 573-634-3565, @J_Hancock