Dark Money Mailers Target GOP Candidates in Missouri With No Disclosures

Postage indicates mailers targeting Josh Hawley and Ann Wagner were sent by same printer

Hawley dark money target
October 31, 2018

Two dark money mailers sent to thousands of voters without any disclosure of who paid for it—a likely illegal act—were sent by the same St. Louis printing company, which has been used by many Democratic campaigns in the state this cycle.

The two mailers—the first one targeting Republican representative Ann Wagner and the second targeting Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley—both lack the standard disclosure statement identifying who paid for them, earning them quick criticism from state Republicans.

The Wagner campaign immediately called the mailer targeting the congresswoman illegal and said it would be filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission. The Missouri Republican Party similarly called the mailer targeting Hawley illegal and called on his opponent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.), a frequent critic of dark money groups, to condemn the mailer.

Though there is no disclaimer of who sent either mailer, the Free Beacon was able to identify the printer who sent out the mailers based on the postage permit number, which is the same on both.

Mulligan Printing, which confirmed to the Free Beacon that its postage was used on both the mailers targeting Wagner and Hawley, has regularly been used by Democratic campaigns this cycle, according to information available through the Missouri Election Commission. It has been paid thousands of dollars, for example, for "printing" and "postage" by We Are Missouri, the group leading the campaign against right to work in the state.

Mulligan declined to make anyone available for comment, saying it does not discuss its clients with the press.

Wagner's campaign was able to identify the source of the mailer sent to voters in her district as Care in Action, a 501(c)4 organization that isn't required to disclose its donors and has also not reported any spending in Wagner's race to the FEC, which the Wagner campaign says is another illegal act.

Care in Action argued to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that it isn't bound by election law because it doesn't "expressly advocate" for Wagner's reelection or defeat on the mailer.

A campaign finance expert told the paper that Care in Action's argument doesn't hold up, especially given the close proximity to the election.

Care in Action did not respond to numerous inquiries from the Free Beacon. A spokesman for Cort VanOstran, Wagner's Democrat opponent, told the Post-Dispatch it had no affiliation with Care in Action.

It is unclear whether Care in Action is also behind the mailers sent out attacking Hawley or whether a different group also hired Mulligan.

Dark money mailers like the ones targeting Wagner and Hawley have been a frequent target of McCaskill. State Republicans have called on her to denounce the mailer.

"Claire McCaskill should be consistent for once in her career and denounce these dark money groups that are sending illegally mailed attack ads to Missourians," said Republican spokesman Chris Nuelle. "Otherwise, her continued calls to get dark money out of politics are completely hollow."

McCaskill's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Similar direct mailers without disclosures have been sent in recent days targeting Republican Senate candidates in Montana and Indiana, both considered to be hotly contested races.

In Montana, the campaign for Republican Matt Rosendale was also able to identify a printer, Allied Printing Resources, which it says is often used by the Democratic National Committee. The mailer directs voters to vote for Libertarian Party candidate Rick Breckinridge, who on Wednesday directed all his supporters to vote for Rosendale.