Hawley becomes latest target for an ethics complaint

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Governor Eric Greitens is not the only statewide politician facing an ethics complaint now.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is the latest politician to be named in an ethics complaint filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission this week by Democratic attorney and lobbyist Jane Dueker, former chief of staff for Gov. Bob Holden.

The complaint, filed on Tuesday, claims that Hawley did not disclose free legal representation from a Washington, D.C. law firm in his state campaign finance reports or personal financial disclosures.

According to a Kansas City Star report, Hawley received pro bono representation from Cooper & Kirk PLLC during his 2016 campaign.

The representation in question involves a 2016 lawsuit over an open record request to the University Missouri for the then-professor’s emails and documents.

Cooper & Kirk represented Hawley at no cost in that lawsuit, which was dismissed in September 2016. Dueker represented Kevin Elmer, a former state representative who filed the records request and subsequent lawsuit.

Elmer filed a lawsuit against Hawley, the University of Missouri and law school dean Gary Myers, accusing all three of “violat[ing] the Missouri Sunshine Law to hide Hawley’s use of state resources as part of his campaign.”

Elmer received some of the documents, estimated to be about 25 percent of what he asked for, and then filed suit, calling for an investigation into Hawley’s “improper comingling of University assets and…political activities” before the election.

The lawsuit sought to determine whether Hawley inappropriately used university computer resources to benefit his campaign, as well as the allegation that he was improperly given paid leave from the university while raising money for his campaign.

Dueker’s complaint says that Hawley is either liable for not listing the free representation as an in-kind contribution or that the services should have been disclosed as a gift on his personal financial disclosure.

The filing asks that the Missouri Ethics Commission investigate the alleged violations.

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