JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Sen. Kurt Schaefer’s attorney general campaign responded to a complaint filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission on Wednesday, saying the complaint originates from biased sources supporting Schaefer’s opponent, University of Missouri law professor Josh Hawley.
The complaint, filed by the Washington, D.C.-based Foundation for Accountability and Civil Trust (FACT) , alleges that Schaefer used his position as chair of the Senate appropriations committee to engineer a rules change at the University of Missouri prohibiting a professor from taking a leave of absence to run for office. The MEC immediately dismissed the complaint.
“I thought we had learned in the aftermath of the Schweich tragedy the destructive and vile nature of this kind of campaign,” said Schaefer’s campaign manager Scott Dieckhaus. “But, make no mistake, there is a coordinated effort between the Josh Hawley campaign and dark money forces from outside the state aiming to take down an honorable and experienced man – Kurt Schaefer.”
The Schaefer campaign says the complaint was brought by attorney Matthew Whitaker, founder of FACT and former candidate for U.S. Senate in Iowa, and substantiated by two former U.S. Attorneys who donated to his 2014 U.S. Senate campaign in Iowa, in order to generate negative publicity for Schaefer that would benefit Hawley.
“The information he claims to have gathered has been public and available to any county, state, or federal agency that wanted to investigate for months. Whitaker’s public statements were meant only to generate adverse publicity that could be used by the Hawley campaign,” Dieckhaus said. “To substantiate his ridiculous claims, Whitaker found two ‘impartial’ former U.S. Attorneys to state that something inappropriate may have occurred. I would suggest that it is tough to be impartial for these two attorneys since they were both major donors to Whitaker’s failed U.S. Senate race in 2014.”
He also say that at the same time the complaint was filed, and Arizona-based group bought air time to run ads about the complaint.
“Professor Hawley would have us believe that it was a complete coincidence that Public Integrity Alliance, an Arizona-based group, bought $250,000 of television time to run ads against Schaefer the same week that Whitaker filed his complaint” he said. “You would have to suspend belief to believe that two out-of- state groups taking coordinated action is a coincidence, even if you knew nothing of the people involved.”
The campaign connects Hawley to the Public Integrity Alliance through a law firm that he used to work for in Washington. They also say he’s connected to Whitaker because at that law firm, he worked with the wife of Whitaker’s former law partner.
“Professor Hawley’s campaign is using organizations that operate in the shadows of the law, away from the light of campaign finance disclosure,” Dieckhaus said. “I don’t think this is appropriate for any campaign, but particularly not for someone who wants to be the state’s chief law enforcement official. I challenge Hawley to disclose his ties to these groups and to demand that they disclose the source of the funds they are using to wage their meritless smear campaign. The people of this great State deserve no less.”
The Schaefer response comes as the Hawley campaign has gained some major donations recently. David Humphreys and Koch Industries made large donations to Hawley’s campaign Monday of $500,000 and $25,000, respectively.