Hawley on Ethics: I Can't Do Anything About It

Earlier this week, Steve Kraske spoke to Attorney General Josh Hawley. Toward the end of the interview, Kraske asked Hawley about calls from the KC Star, elected officials, and others for his office to investigate allegations of pay-to play with Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard. Hawley's answer was underwhelming and contradictory to his campaign.

Here's the clip:

Steve Kraske:

Do you think these allegations are something that need investigating, and does your office have a role in this, General?

Josh Hawley:

You know, well pay-to-play allegations are always serious. Now, my office does not have criminal jurisdiction over pay-to-play allegations, and so those are, the jurisdiction lies with the local prosecutor - in this case Cole County prosecutor - or the United States Attorney.

I will say that we do need to be careful, however Steve, in this and instances like this, and this particular instance, to make sure that we don’t mistake pay to play with just ordinary free speech.

There is nothing wrong with a donor giving a campaign contribution to a public official that is made out in the open, duly reported, and supporting a policy that he or she thinks is good for the state. We have to be careful that we don’t criminalize free speech.

I ran on a platform saying we would clean up, I would be part of the solution in Jefferson City. That’s why I instituted what we believe is the toughest ethics policy of any AG office in the country. My first day in office, I pledged that I would not accept gifts, no member of the AG office is permitted to accept lobbyist gifts, and I also said I would not accept campaign contributions from anyone who is being investigated by my office.

We are proud of that policy, we are working hard to implement it, we hope that it's a model. We are going to continue to do everything we can to make sure that we go after the culture of corruption in this city and in politics.

This seems like the exact opposite of what Hawley campaigned on.

During the campaign, Humphreys gave Hawley's campaign 6.5 million dollars and the week before campaign limits kicked in, threw another $1,000,000 more his way. (7.5 million dollars to ensure the top lawyer in the state doesn't go after his agenda; seems like Humphreys made a solid investment.)

Hawley's campaign page promises he'll end pay-to-play activities as the AG. It's clear that he only means the appearance of it, not actually using the law to end the behavior. 

In one breath Hawley says he can't investigate, and the next saying he'll investigate public corruption. It's like he think he can have his cake and eat it too. Here's to hoping that next time Hawley has an interview, the reporter can ask him about these clear conflicts of interest and backtracking on his campaign promises to change the culture of corruption in Jefferson City.

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