It shouldn’t be a big deal that Jay Ashcroft is investigating Josh Hawley, but it is

Political consultants’ role in Hawley’s AG office raise concerns

Consultants worked to raise Josh Hawley's national profile and helped direct the state office's work, records show.
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Consultants worked to raise Josh Hawley's national profile and helped direct the state office's work, records show.

It shouldn’t be a stunning development that Missouri’s Republican secretary of state has enlisted the Democratic state auditor’s help in investigating allegations that our Republican attorney general improperly and perhaps illegally used public resources in his winning U.S. Senate campaign.

It is, though.

In fact, it’s become so reflexive for officials to ignore or minimize allegations of wrongdoing by a member of their own party that the straightforward and stand-up way Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has launched a probe of Attorney General Josh Hawley is worth noting.

Auditor Nicole Galloway has the subpoena power that Ashcroft lacks, and the involvement of elected officials from both parties will make it harder to write off whatever they find as politically motivated. Ashcroft has asked that his office and Galloway’s share information and sit in together on interviews.

This is how our system of checks and balances is supposed to work, and may it serve as a model for repairing public trust in officials and institutions.

Ashcroft launched the investigation last week in response to a complaint from The American Democracy Legal Fund, a left-leaning watchdog group founded by Clinton-critic-turned-Clinton-supporter David Brock. The group called for a formal investigation into whether Hawley broke the Missouri law that bars officials from using public funds to boost their political campaigns. Doing so would also violate federal law.

In October, The Kansas City Star reported that not long after Hawley was sworn in as attorney general, the same out-of-state campaign consultants who soon went to work running his Senate campaign began giving work assignments to and leading meetings with Hawley’s taxpayer-funded employees in the attorney general’s office. These efforts were intended to raise Hawley’s national profile in anticipation of his planned run against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill.

In the style of his political champion, President Donald Trump, Hawley has tweeted that “This is the SEVENTH legal complaint Democrats have launched against me in last 18 months. All frivolous. All political. Not one has succeeded. Election is over and Dems lost. Get over it.”

The only way to truly “get over it,” of course, is to investigate fully, as Ashcroft seems commendably determined to do.