COLUMBIA, Mo. – The battle between Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, and Mizzou law professor Josh Hawley for the Republican nomination for attorney general looks ready to rage until the very end.
Tuesday, Schaefer asked Hawley to pull an ad Schaefer says misleads voters about Hawley’s experience and role in the Hobby Lobby case that Hawley has used to stake his claim in the Missouri political arena. The professor’s most recent ad features his family and statements that he “beat Obama twice” on religious freedom.
Schaefer’s campaign manager, Scott Dieckhaus, alleges that Hawley had only a small supporting role in the Hobby Lobby case. which conflicts with Hawley’s telling of events in much of his promotional material that implies he had a leading role in one of the largest religious liberty cases of the last decade.
“For Josh Hawley to repeatedly indicate he argued the Hobby Lobby case is the worst kind of political pandering,” Dieckhaus said. “The shameful half-truths and lies the Hawley campaign has been telling Missourians over the last few years regarding his role in the case is a cheap ploy akin to lying about military service, or falsifying prestigious awards to get votes.”
The Becket Fund, for which Hawley used to work, has defended his work and his role in the legal team.
“The Becket Fund has had incredible success at the Supreme Court, and Josh Hawley has been an integral part of it,” the Becket Fund wrote in September of last year responding to similar accusations. “Josh served as co-counsel both in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC (2012) and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014). In both cases, his work and Supreme Court expertise were critical to our success at every stage of the litigation.”
Schaefer, however, still feels that Hawley has been disingenuous with his retelling of events.
“I have spent decades prosecuting some of Missouri’s worst criminals, fighting the federal government, and standing up for the rights of Missourians in both federal and state courts,” Schaefer said in a statement. “The primary difference between my cases and Professor Hawley’s is that I actually argued my cases in the courtroom. That courtroom experience matters when selecting our state’s chief law enforcer in the state.”
The winner of the Republican primary will face either St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman or former Cass County Prosecutor Teresa Hensley in the general election.