GOP Attorney General Farmed Out His Job to Out-Of-State Consultants So He Could Plan His Run for Senate: Report
On Wednesday, the Kansas City Star dropped a blistering expose of Missouri attorney general Josh Hawley, who is the GOP nominee against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.
According to the report, Hawley — despite promising voters in his initial bid for statewide office in 2016 that he would not leverage his position in "one office to get to another" — almost immediately hired a team of out-of-state consultants to handle the duties of the office for which he was just elected, leaving him free to plan his bid for Senate:
Hawley's out-of-state political consultants gave direct guidance and tasks to his taxpayer-funded staff, and followed up to ensure the tasks were completed, according to emails, text messages and other records obtained by The Kansas City Star.
Early in Hawley's tenure, for example, emails sent by the consultants to state staff laid out plans to shape the attorney general's image and agenda for the year ahead.
As the months went on, Hawley's political consultants flew to Missouri for official events and to meet with the attorney general's staff during work hours in the state Supreme Court building, where the 38-year-old Republican’s official office is located.
The campaign-led strategy sessions, which began in January 2017, raised legal and ethical concerns at the time among some of Hawley's employees, who worried about mixing politics with public business. The situation also left them confused about the chain of command.
The fact that Hawley was delegating enormous chunks of his authority is arguably reflected in the quality of his work as attorney general. A recent New York Times article describes the Missouri attorney general's office as being in a state of "turmoil," with career civil rights litigators abandoning their positions, judges frustrated at delays in discovery, poorly-vetted top aides, and millions of dollars in wasted taxpayer money. Hawley has also been accused of slow-walking one of the most important cases that occurred during his tenure: the criminal investigation into his former ally, GOP Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned in disgrace earlier this year.
This does not mean Hawley has had no agenda of his own since taking office, however. In particular, he has been an enthusiastic member of the 20-state GOP lawsuit to eliminate the Affordable Care Act's protection of pre-existing conditions — even while running political ads claiming he supports those protections.