ST. LOUIS – Missouri Senator Josh Hawley will be the subject of a court hearing Friday that also involves Governor Mike Parson and former Governor Eric Greitens.
The plaintiff is Elad Gross, a St. Louis lawyer running as a Democratic candidate for attorney general in 2020. He’s suing Governor Parson’s office because he said while investigating campaign finances, Gross requested public records that were either blocked or cost exorbitant fees to access.
"I sued Governor Parson because he is hiding public records of communications between the Governor's Office and individuals and groups who tried to buy our elections using anonymous dark money. The point is to enforce Missouri's Sunshine Law because we deserve transparency in our government. We need accountability to fix our democracy," said Gross in an email.
Neither Parson’s office nor the attorney general, who is representing Parson in this case, are commenting on the pending litigation.
Here’s where Senator Hawley comes in: Gross said he wants to know why Hawley didn't investigate campaign financing when he was attorney general, and said Hawley alone has personal information and experience relevant to investigating this so-called “dark money.”
"I started investigating dark money back in 2017, well before I was a candidate. I decided to run because the Attorney General refused to do his job and enforce our laws when it came to his donors, and I strongly believe we need an Attorney General who protects the rights of the people, not the money of the powerful," said Gross.
However, Hawley’s lawyers filed a motion to avoid taking part in the case. They said Gross has offered "no basis whatsoever for believing that the Senator has relevant evidence to provide" in this case, adding that "It is a bedrock principle of discovery that depositions of high-ranking public officials are improper unless they are truly necessary."
Greitens is also subpoenaed in the case because Gross’ initial records request—the one he says Parson was inhibiting—was into A New Missouri, the former governor’s nonprofit. Gross said he believes it’s central in the dark money “scheme” he wants to independently investigate.
However, they’ve been unable to locate Greitens to serve him with the subpoena.