Editorials

With investigations and tough questions looming, will Josh Hawley learn from his mistakes?

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.

The list of Sen. Josh Hawley’s unforced errors, political missteps and potentially improper behavior continues to grow.

Two left-leaning publications reported last week that Hawley’s campaign may have illegally coordinated with the National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund — the NRA’s political action committee — during last year’s campaign.

A similar allegation surfaced in October.

The report says the same person who authorized ads for the NRA’s Political Victory Fund authorized ads for Hawley’s campaign. That fact doesn’t prove there was prohibited coordination between the Hawley campaign and the political action committee, but it points to the need for a full investigation of the connection.

The NRA’s Political Victory Fund spent more than $1.3 million on the race, Federal Election Commission records show. That’s a lot of money.

Missouri voters have entrusted Hawley with representing their interests Washington, and he now has an opportunity to do important work for the state. But this latest episode continues the pattern of the senator appearing to disregard laws and guidelines that are essential for a public servant to effectively do his or her job.

Hawley’s investigative whitewash of secret text-messaging by former Gov. Eric Greitens is now clear. There are questions about Hawley’s thoroughness in investigating Greitens’ use of a nonprofit group during the disgraced governor’s campaign.

Hawley now stands accused of improperly installing campaign consultants in the office of attorney general, an error in judgment that may have been illegal. His actions are now under review.

There have been other mistakes, including Hawley’s controversial decision to live in two places while serving as attorney general.

The junior senator recently told The Star’s Washington reporter that he would not “play hallway roulette” by answering simple questions about the federal shutdown. Hawley’s unwillingness to engage on issues of the day is a less-than-promising start for an elected official who is supposed to serve the public, not his own interests.

The freshman senator will eventually have to answer to voters for his actions. But Hawley’s miscues will affect Missourians directly and immediately by reducing his credibility in the U.S. Senate and beyond.

The nation’s capital is a place where character is quickly revealed. Senators who lack it can be pushed to the side, ignored when issues of substance are discussed. Hawley risks undercutting his ability to do his job, to the state’s detriment.

The new senator should embrace transparency and cooperate with investigations of his campaign and his actions as attorney general. He should be accessible and answer questions. He should work diligently for Missouri and its interests.

Too often, Hawley has seemed to be guided more by ambition than the public’s welfare. That’s the wrong approach. And with tough questions and investigations now looming, Hawley should quickly make a mid-course correction.

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