Missouri state treasurer Eric Schmitt asked the FBI on Thursday to investigate who is behind the slew of campaign mailers sent to voters without required disclosures of who paid for it.
Thousands of voters reportedly received mailers criticizing Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley, urging them to consider third party candidates in next week's election. Schmitt, a Republican, said that the lack of legally required disclaimers on the mailers makes it impossible for Missouri voters to know who is behind them and asked the FBI to get to the bottom of it.
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"Missourians deserve to know where these mailers are coming from, and why they failed to use a federal disclaimer on the mailers," Schmitt said. "That's why I'm calling for the FBI to investigate these dark money mailers."
Dark money groups have frequently been targeted by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.), whose campaign told the Kansas City Star it "condemns all dark money efforts, including these mailers." Schmitt, however, said the groups attempting to illegally meddle in Missouri's election appear to be taking direction from McCaskill's campaign.
"Claire McCaskill may have denounced the mailers, but the fact that these dark money groups are copying her attacks on Josh Hawley is no coincidence," he said.
The Missouri Republican Party backed Schmitt's request for an FBI investigation, calling it an attempted "trick on Republicans."
"I think it’s a trick on Republican voters to try to trick them into thinking there are more conservative candidates than Josh Hawley," said party chairman Todd Graves.
The Hawley campaign has pointed to McCaskill's admitted work in previous elections to meddle on the Republican side in order to get an advantage in the general election.
"Sounds like another dirty trick by Claire McCaskill," said Hawley spokeswoman Kelli Ford. "She wrote the book on it. This is just more of the same."
Similar mailers have been sent in competitive Senate races in Montana and Indiana with a goal of depressing Republican turnout. Signs indicate the same group may be behind the mailers.