By SUMMER BALLENTINE , Associated Press
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft on Monday asked the Democratic auditor for help investigating Sen.-elect Josh Hawley over allegations that he misused public resources to boost his Senate bid.
Ashcroft requested in a letter that Auditor Nicole Galloway check into the claims against Hawley, who is currently serving as attorney general and unseated Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill last month. Hawley’s office is already scheduled for a routine audit.
Ashcroft last week agreed to investigate Hawley following a complaint by Brad Woodhouse, the president of the liberal American Democracy Legal Fund.
In his November complaint, Woodhouse wrote that it appears Hawley misused state resources “by instructing political consultants to direct state, taxpayer-paid staff to undertake tasks that would raise Hawley’s profile in his bid to represent Missouri in the U.S. Senate.” A spokeswoman for the attorney general has called the complaints “totally meritless.”
Ashcroft wrote that while his office has no subpoena power to investigate the allegations against Hawley, Galloway’s office does. He also asked that her office share relevant information from the audit and allow his staff to at least sit in on any possible interviews with attorney general employees.
“We do not have the same tools that the Auditor’s Office has to conduct an investigation,” Ashcroft wrote.
A spokeswoman for Galloway said she’s reviewing Ashcroft’s letter.
Attorney general spokeswoman Mary Compton did not immediately comment Monday. She has said that the allegations are “totally meritless,” that no taxpayer resources were ever used for Hawley’s campaign, and that the office will cooperate with Ashcroft’s investigation.
Woodhouse’s complaint followed reporting by The Kansas City Star, which obtained records that show out-of-state political consultants that went on to work for Hawley’s Senate campaign also advised his staff in the attorney general’s office. The records show campaign consultants gave direct guidance and tasks to Hawley’s state staff.
Ashcroft’s deputy general counsel, Khristine Heisinger, last week requested that the Attorney General’s Office provide its responses to the newspaper’s open-records requests, and also asked The Kansas City Star for its records. The newspaper reports it declined to provide them.