Hawley campaign to donate money it received from PAC accused of scamming donors

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Claire McCaskill.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Claire McCaskill. jsleezer@kcstar.com

Republican Josh Hawley’s Senate campaign said it will donate the money it received this summer from a political action committee accused of scamming donors over the phone by claiming their donations help support police officers.

Campaign spokeswoman Kelli Ford said in a text message that the $2,500 donation from the Police Action Fund, a Virginia-based PAC, will be divided to contribute to the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association and the Missouri Police Chiefs Association after inquiries by The Star.

The campaign received the donation from the PAC in August, according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission. Local media reports and police press releases from Colorado, Indiana and Maine have warned against the organization.

Throughout his time as the state’s attorney general, Hawley has warned Missourians of telephone scams.

On its website, the Police Action Fund calls itself a “nation-wide grassroots organization of concerned citizens that support law enforcement and legislators who do the same.”

A police department in Maine said in a news release that calls from the fund were “believed to be telephone scams” and that it’s “not associated with these organizations in any way.” According to the department, those soliciting donations “claimed to be with a police-related fundraiser but did not give specifics.”

Hawley, who won the attorney general’s race in 2016, is hoping to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill, the incumbent Democrat. McCaskill is running for her third term.

Between January 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2018, McCaskill raised more than $28.6 million. Hawley, in that time, raised $8.5 million.

The two are locked in a dead heat less than two weeks before the midterm elections, according to recent polls. The race could determine control of the U.S. Senate.

This cycle, the Police Action Fund has donated to candidates and parties less than 5 percent of the $1.4 million it has raised, according to its FEC filings. It has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on business and fund-raising expenses.

In a statement, Mary Compton, the attorney general’s office spokeswoman, said the office hadn’t received any complaints about the Police Action Fund. She encouraged any potential victims to contact the office.

McCaskill last year donated $30,000 she received from former Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat accused of forcibly kissing and groping multiple women. She later called on the senator to resign.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, McCaskill last year also returned donations to a PAC associated with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.