Democrats use Greitens' woes to attack Senate candidate

Democrats use Greitens' woes to attack Senate candidate
The Missouri Ethics Commission has dismissed a complaint against Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Hawley (Source: KFVS)

By SUMMER BALLENTINE
Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Democrats are using Republican Gov. Eric Greitens' political and legal woes to try to attack the top GOP candidate in a hotly contested U.S. Senate race.

Democrats are seeking to tie Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley to Greitens, despite Hawley's call for Greitens' resignation after a special legislative report that revealed allegations of physical violence against a woman with whom Greitens had an extramarital affair in 2015.

Hawley is vying for Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill's seat. She also has called for Greitens to step down.

Hawley has sought to distance himself from the governor since Greitens admitted to the affair in January. Greitens was indicted on a related felony invasion-of-privacy charge the following month for allegedly taking a compromising photo of the woman without her consent. Hawley has avoided local Republican gatherings Greitens has attended. He said allegations against Greitens in the House report are "shocking, substantial, and corroborated evidence of wrongdoing," then told House members it's within their right to impeach him.

But the Missouri Democratic Party issued a statement Friday saying Hawley hasn't done enough as attorney general or has been too slow to check into allegations of misconduct against Greitens. Missouri Democratic Party spokeswoman Brooke Goren said he's "failed to deliver for Missourians on his promise to clean up corruption."

Hawley campaign spokeswoman Kelli Ford said in a statement that McCaskill and her supporters "pedal proven falsehoods" and that Hawley's office has "convicted multiple people of public corruption without regard to party."

Hawley does not have primary authority as attorney general to initiate prosecution in most criminal cases, but he has offered to help St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner with the invasion-of-privacy case. Democrats are framing it as Hawley ignoring calls to investigate Greitens over the allegations related to his affair and say Hawley "allowed another prosecutor to take the lead in investigating whether the Governor's conduct was criminal in nature."

Hawley has undertaken other investigations into Greitens, including over use of the secretive message-deleting app Confide by top governor's office staff. Hawley found no evidence of wrongdoing, but his office says he was hampered by not having subpoena power for potential open-records law violations. Democrats are using that to hammer him, insisting he should have tried retrieve deleted messages and sought to interview Greitens. Hawley has said he would reopen the investigation if lawmakers gave him subpoena authority.

Democrats also say Hawley was too slow to launch a review of The Mission Continues, the veterans charity founded by Greitens. That probe came after media reports that Greitens' campaign had obtained and used a charity donor list in 2015 as it ramped up fundraising for his gubernatorial bid. Hawley has said his office acted as soon as it had evidence.

Hawley's office last month issued 15 civil investigative demands, which under Missouri law operate as an administrative subpoenas, related to that review. Greitens received a demand as the registered agent for the Greitens Group, attorney general spokeswoman Mary Compton said.

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