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Hawley had ‘questionable use of state resources’ as AG, Galloway audit says as feud continues

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — U.S. Senator Josh Hawley used state resources in a way that “gave an appearance of impropriety” when he served as Missouri’s attorney general, a partial report from the Auditor’s Office said Thursday. 

The partial audit — released as Hawley and Democratic Auditor Nicole Galloway continue their public feud — said the former Republican attorney general had a “questionable use of state resources.” That includes utilizing a state vehicle for political purposes or in a way that “had the appearance of being personal in nature,” the audit said. 

The 462-page report also said staff communications with campaign consultants as Hawley began his U.S. Senate bid gave “no evidence of a violation of state law.” In part, the audit said it came to that conclusion because communications were conducted “through private channels.” 

Immediately after the audit was released, Hawley released a statement saying he had been “exonerated.” 

“Once again, partisan campaign attacks against Josh Hawley have been proven false. This baseless allegation was instigated by a Democrat group in support of Mr. Hawley’s 2018 U.S. Senate campaign opponent,” Cooper & Kirk attorney Brian Barnes said in a statement. “The audit is a total exoneration of Mr. Hawley’s time as Attorney General. He never misused state resources for political purposes.”

The audit pointed to two specific interactions between officials in Hawley’s administration and consultants. It said the communications gave “the appearance of political activity by state employees while using state resources, but no evidence exists that any laws were violated.” 

The audit said: 

“By allowing campaign-paid consultants to interact and advise [Attorney General’s Office] staff, former Attorney General Hawley potentially used state resources for political purposes. If better documentation had been maintained to show these interactions were solely official in nature, any appearance of impropriety could have been avoided. However, because most of the communications between the campaign and AGO staff were conducted via private communication channels, the full content and context of these interactions cannot be determined. The lack of transparency of the relationships and communications between the campaign-paid consultants and former AGO officials give the appearance that non-AGO business may have been discussed and not retained, and that state resources may have been used improperly.”

Additionally, several employees used personal phones, email accounts, and calendars to conduct official business, the report concluded. 

Galloway versus Hawley

State Auditor Nicole Galloway (THE MISSOURI TIMESALISHA SHURR)

There has been a kerfuffle between Hawley and Galloway, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, after the former raised questions of political bias as the Auditor’s Office investigated his time as attorney general. 

“The unfair attacks by Senator Hawley in an attempt to deceive taxpayers about the nature of this audit are disturbing, but unfortunately, they are not surprising,” Galloway said Thursday. “My career staff carried out this audit professionally and in adherence to professional audit standards, sometimes in the face of abusive attacks. Now that all of the facts are available, it is clear that this report is based solely on evidence provided by current and former Attorney General’s Office staff and political consultants who worked with the office. There was no bias.”

In a January letter to Pamela Allison, a supervisory manager at the Auditor’s Office, Hawley’s attorney alleged “deeply troubling information … about the Auditor’s own conduct during” the audit. The letter accused Allison, specifically, of altering the audit to “beef up” the content. 

Hawley’s attorney also criticized Galloway for hiring former U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill’s campaign manager during the “pendency” of the audit. (McCaskill was Hawley’s Democratic opponent in the race for the U.S. Senate seat.) 

Thursday’s report said there was no “evidence of a lack of objectivity, rather evidence that the audit team was appropriately evaluating audit evidence.” 

“As with all audit reports, the draft report underwent a thorough review process with many revisions, including the areas of concern noted in the email, before it was provided to the AGO,” the report said. 

Since Hawley made his accusations publicly, the House Special Committee on Government Oversight held a hearing, and Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz filed legislation requesting an independent audit of Galloway’s own office. 

Hawley has also submitted a formal complaint to the Missouri State Board of Accountancy. 

Hawley was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018 after serving as Missouri’s attorney general for two years. Galloway, the lone Democratic statewide elected official, has served in her capacity since 2015.

Read the audit below.