Ashcroft Finds Hawley Didn't Improperly Use Attorney General's Office For Senate Bid | St. Louis Public Radio

Ashcroft Finds Hawley Didn't Improperly Use Attorney General's Office For Senate Bid

Feb 28, 2019

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has ended an investigation into whether U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley used the attorney general’s office to boost his Senate bid, concluding there’s not “reasonable trustworthy information that an offense has been committed.”

Last fall, the Kansas City Star reported that two of Hawley’s campaign aides, Timmy Teepell and Gail Gitcho, advised and interacted with Hawley’s taxpayer-paid staff. That prompted the left-of-center American Democracy Legal Fund to file a complaint with Ashcroft’s office about whether Hawley, a Republican, used the attorney general’s office to boost his Senate prospects.

Ashcroft, who can forward a probable-cause statement to a prosecutor if his office believes that someone violated election law, began an investigation late last year. Ashcroft, a Republican, also asked Auditor Nicole Galloway, a Democrat, for assistance, since the auditor’s office has subpoena power.

In a report released Thursday, Ashcroft's office said the documents that his office reviewed “only showed that the consultants assisted” attorney general employees “implementing Attorney General Hawley’s priorities.”

“It is not unusual for elected officials to develop priorities or conduct media interviews to communicate office-related priorities that may raise their public profile,” the report states. “Based on the documents my office reviewed, and the interviews conducted, I cannot say that there is reasonable trustworthy information that an offense has been committed. As such, I decline to issue a statement of probable cause, and this investigation is considered closed.”

The report said Ashcroft’s office conducted interviews will 11 people. One person declined to be interviewed. It also said Galloway’s subpoena powers were “not needed in light of Attorney General [Eric] Schmitt’s willingness to provide documents that would normally be closed to my office.”

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Hawley spokeswoman Kelli Ford said in an email to St. Louis Public Radio that "the Secretary of State report completely vindicated Josh Hawley."

"This marks the latest failed attempt by partisan Democrats," Ford said.

The American Democracy Legal Fund did not return a request for comment.

Galloway is conducting an audit of Hawley’s office, as is typical when a statewide official leaves office. Galloway spokeswoman Steph Deidrick says that work is ongoing.

Hawley ended up defeating Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill by six percentage points in November.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

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