The Buzz

Kurt Schaefer once again raises specter of terrorism to attack Josh Hawley in Missouri AG race

Josh Hawley
Josh Hawley

In his second television attack ad of the campaign, Kurt Schaefer is once again accusing his opponent in the Republican attorney general primary of providing legal counsel to terrorists.

In the ad, Schaefer, a Columbia Republican, slammed University of Missouri law professor Josh Hawley for writing a legal brief making the case that the United States shouldn’t designate the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran as a terrorist organization.

“Condoleezza Rice called the Mojahedin terrorists,” the ad says. “Josh Hawley called them clients.”

This isn’t the first time Scahefer has raised the Mojahedin to attack Hawley. In response to the previous attack, Hawley noted that Republicans such as U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, former U.S. senator Kit Bond and former Missouri governor and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft have also voiced strong support for the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran.

The group was founded in the 1960s to oppose the Iranian government. It was responsible for the killings of Americans throughout the 1970s.

It eventually renounced violence and began working with the United States in opposition to the current government of Iran, and in 2012 the U.S. removed the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran from the list of terrorist organizations.

In a letter to Schaefer earlier this year, Hawley said the Mojahedin has “provided critical intelligence on the Iranian nuclear program and other sensitive matters, and assisted the U.S. military in defeating our enemies in Iraq.”

The latest ad follows a previous one accusing Hawley of working for Abdul Maalik Muhammad, better known as the “American Taliban.”

Hawley denied ever having worked on the case of Abdul Maalik Muhammad, which involved a lawsuit challenging an Arkansas Department of Corrections policy forbidding Muhammad from growing a beard in accordance to his Muslim faith (the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2015 that the policy violated federal protections for religious practices).

Schaefer and Hawley are facing off in what has become the most contentious primary campaigns in Missouri this year — featuring lawsuits, ethics complaints and accusations of public corruption.

Republican voters will decided between the two men Aug. 2. In the meantime, the TV ad war will likely continue unabated, since in the last few weeks Schaefer has received $1.4 million in donations from groups funded by GOP mega donor Rex Sinquefield.