McCaskill calls on GOP opponent to appoint special prosecutor to look into undercover video

McCaskill calls on GOP opponent to appoint special prosecutor to look into undercover video
© Greg Nash

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillRepublicans may regret restricting reproductive rights Sunday shows preview: States deal with fallout of Ida; Texas abortion law takes effect Giuliani to stump for Greitens in Missouri MORE's (D-Mo.) campaign is asking her Senate race opponent, Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether a right-wing group violated state laws in secretly recording and publishing a video from inside the senator's campaign headquarters.

KMBC News in Missouri reported that McCaskill intends to pursue legal action after the conservative group Project Veritas secretly recorded staffers talking about how they handle Planned Parenthood donations.

McCaskill's campaign did not comment Wednesday night on the possibility of legal action, but pointed to a statement criticizing Hawley for his inaction after the video was released.


"Josh Hawley’s responsibility as the Attorney General of Missouri is to protect Missourians from fraud. Rather than doing his job and investigating this very serious situation, Hawley has been embracing, celebrating and promoting this clear case of fraudulent activity designed to hurt his political opponent," McCaskill's campaign manager, David Kirby, said in a statement.

Hawley, in response, called McCaskill's claims "absurd."

"That’s absurd and she knows it. Senator McCaskill can’t fool Missouri anymore. The truth about her partisanship and party-line liberalism is revealed more every day," Hawley said in a statement to The Hill. "After completely dismissing rural Missourians by saying she can 'give up' on their votes, this new footage shows she just isn’t being honest with us and is rejecting our values."

In a pair of tweets sent Wednesday afternoon following a campaign press call, Hawley criticized McCaskill for "politicizing the legal process" for reelection.

"Let’s review last 24 hrs. 1) @clairecmc & staff caught on tape telling the truth 2) McCaskill accuses ME of fraud 3) McCaskill demands Missouri give her special prosecutor to investigate her truth telling," Hawley tweeted. "Senator, accusing people of crimes is a serious thing. If you have evidence of a crime, please come forward with it immediately. Otherwise, please stop politicizing the legal process for your reelection."

Kirby asked Hawley to appoint a special prosecutor to look into whether Project Veritas violated the state's Merchandising Practices Act, which prohibits deceptive business practices.

Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe has denied coordinating with the Hawley campaign on the video, and said in a statement to The Hill that McCaskill's response shows "her lack of integrity and honesty."

"Rather than addressing the serious falsehoods exposed by Project Veritas Action, Senator McCaskill has accused her opponent Josh Hawley of compromising his ethics by engaging with our organization," O'Keefe said. "This is obviously unsubstantiated and patently false."

Project Veritas is known for recording government employees without their knowledge and edit their responses selectively, usually in an effort to expose perceived bias.

In the video of McCaskill's campaign staffers, they appear to discuss donations to the incumbent's campaign from Planned Parenthood being hidden in order to avoid alienating pro-life Democrats in the state.

Kirby has said Planned Parenthood donated $5,000 to McCaskill, and that the contribution was reported.

McCaskill is one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats up for re-election. She is locked in a tight race with Hawley in a state that President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE won by nearly 20 percentage points.

Nonpartisan political handicapper, The Cook Political Report, has rated the race a "toss-up." A RealClearPolitics average of polling gives Hawley a slight edge of less than one percentage point.

-- Updated 11:30 p.m.