The night Josh Hawley was elected attorney general of Missouri in 2016, he promised to clean up Jefferson City and told voters he wouldn’t become another ladder-climbing politician.
Within weeks, Hawley was skipping office hours and outsourcing government work to out-of-state political consultants. Within seven months, he was running for higher office.
In his election night speech, Hawley, a Republican now running for the U.S. Senate, pledged that “those of you consultants and the lobbyists and the professional political class who have gotten used to running our state, your day is over.”
But The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday that 10 days after Hawley was inaugurated, he hired Washington political consultants to run official business in the Missouri attorney general’s office, potentially violating laws against using taxpayer resources to advance his political career.
Hawley, who is now locked in a tight race against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, will close out his campaign at a rally with President Donald Trump in Cape Girardeau on Monday night.
Hawley promised not to use his position as a political stepping stone, but he laid the groundwork early for a run for a higher-profile job.
Emails and text messages obtained by the Star showed Hawley’s political consultants setting the attorney general’s agenda and directing taxpayer-funded staffers as early as January 2017.
The consultants were so involved, the Star reported, that Hawley’s staffers were confused about whom they reported to: consultants or the chief of staff.
While outsourcing official work to political consultants, Hawley himself appeared to do little work in the attorney general’s office, according to a review of his calendar records obtained by American Bridge 21st Century, the American Ledger’s parent organization.
Hawley’s calendars showed he worked less than five hours per week. Hawley worked about 85-percent less than his Democratic predecessor, Chris Koster, during his first year in office, a comparison of their calendars showed.