A lawyer for Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) is accusing Missouri's Democratic state auditor Nicole Galloway of misconduct during her investigation into whether Hawley improperly used state resources for political purposes during his tenure as attorney general.
Hawley's lawyer, Brian Barnes, made the accusation in a Tuesday letter in response to Galloway's audit of his office, a draft of which was transmitted privately to Hawley late last year. While Barnes writes in the letter that he was pleased to learn that Galloway's audit found no wrongdoing, he also disclosed "deeply troubling" information about the way Galloway's audit was conducted.
"While we are pleased with the audit's conclusion, we must note deeply troubling information that has come to light about the Auditor's own conduct during the pendency of this review," Barnes wrote in the letter, which was sent to Galloway's office Tuesday evening.
The accusations from Hawley center on the political nature of the audit carried out by Galloway, who announced in August that she was running for governor. Barnes argues that Galloway filled the auditor's office with partisan actors openly hostile to Hawley as the investigation into his office was underway, raising serious questions about the impartiality of the audit.
The chief piece of evidence presented is an email by Galloway's lead investigator on the case, Pamela Allison, in which she admits to altering the audit's conclusions. The email was inadvertently sent by Allison to a member of the attorney general's office, the letter states, and reveals that a section was removed from the audit after Allison learned Hawley was not guilty of any wrongdoing.
"Such alteration of a state audit is deeply inappropriate, unethical, and potentially a violation of state law," the letter says. "That this misconduct was committed while the auditor was herself conducting a political campaign for governor only underscores the impropriety."
"This misconduct calls into question the integrity of the audit and warrants a thorough independent investigation," the letter says.
The accusation that Hawley was using his official office to boost his 2018 campaign for U.S. Senate came from the American Democracy Legal Fund, a liberal nonprofit run by activist David Brock that files lawsuits against Republicans. It was used extensively by former senator Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) during the final stretch of her failed campaign against Hawley, who has denied all accusations of misconduct since they were first raised.
Hawley's lawyers complain in the letter that the campaign manager for McCaskill's campaign, David Kirby, was hired by Galloway as a senior employee in the state auditor's office.
"The involvement, at a senior level, of a political operative who personally promoted the very attacks against Mr. Hawley that Galloway was supposed to be independently reviewing is deeply inappropriate and potentially unethical," the letter says.
Also pointed out in the letter is the fact that Galloway took a direct contribution from McCaskill worth $2,600 while the investigation was being carried out.
Missouri law mandates that Hawley's response must be included in its entirety in the final audit released by Galloway. He is also calling for an independent investigation of the process by which the audit was carried out.
"Is the Auditor’s office independent or is it just a giant political campaign?" Hawley asked in a Tuesday night social media post. "Is it legal to change conclusions of a state audit for political gain?"
The auditor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Galloway is the second Missouri official to look into the accusations against Hawley. Missouri secretary of state Jay Ashcroft concluded his investigation last February, saying there was no evidence of any wrongdoing.