Fact checking the nasty political ads in MO attorney general primary

Published: Jun. 24, 2016 at 7:21 PM CDT
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The Missouri republican primary campaign for Attorney General has already gotten down and dirty. KY3 looks for the facts while the mud flies.

"Josh Hawley worked for a terrorist, he should never work for Missouri," says the final line of an ad paid for by Citizens to Elect Kurt Schaefer Attorney General.

"But senator Kurt Schaefer... votes to allow the Chinese to buy farms," says a line from an ad paid for by the State Conservative Reform Action PAC.

Lawyers defending terrorists and prosecutors assisting a Chinese invasion? Which one do you believe? And how do you know which one to vote for? It might make you just want to turn off your TV.

Well, lets check some facts.

First, Kurt Schaefer accuses Josh Hawley of working for a terrorist.

"Josh Hawley sued law enforcement so Muhammad could practice radical Islam," Schaefer's ad says.

"well Senator Schaefer's ad is false and it's knowingly false. The senator knows its a lie. It has been dis-proven in the public record for months now and he chose to air it anyway," Hawley tells KY3.

Here are the facts.

Hawley worked for a law firm called the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, defending people of all faiths. Hawley brags about his work with the firm in the Hobby Lobby supreme court case.

However, another client for the firm was an Arkansas Muslim man now serving life in prison for cutting his girlfriend's throat. He had referred to himself as the American Taliban.

The Becket fund defended his right to grow a beard behind bars.

The Supreme court agreed, unanimously, forcing the Arkansas prison system to allow him and others to grow a half-inch long beard for religious reasons if they so desired.

On the list of Becket Fund lawyers in the case, you see Hawley's name, but only on one document, because the Becket Fund says it was an error. He didn't actually help in this case.

However, since his name is on the document, the Schaefer campaign conveniently takes it out of context.

The "Josh Hawley worked for a terrorist" ad is not true.

Next, lets look at the Chinese business invasion ad.

"Schaefer votes to make it easier for the Chinese to buy more land. Kurt Schaefer, whose side is he on?" Asks the ad paid for by a super PAC, which can accept unlimited, untraceable funds. The group, based in Virginia, supports Hawley.

Their ad accuses Schaefer of helping the Chinese buy up Missouri farms.

Here's the story behind it.

The huge Virginia pork company Smithfield Foods had operations in Missouri and dozens of other states.

A Chinese company wanted to buy Smithfield, but couldn't because of Missouri law.

Schaefer supported changing Missouri law so the deal would go thru, and it did.

Now, 42,000 acres of Smithfield farm land in Missouri is now, technically, owned by the Chinese. However, an image used in the ad depicting a Chinese military invasion is over the top.

We asked Hawley if he would ask the super PAC to pull the ad.

"Well I can't control what they do, but what I'm doing with my time is, I'm focused on the issues and our policy record differences," Hawley said.

He's not allowed to directly control a super PAC supporting him, but if he asked supporters to stop a mudslinging ad, they probably would.

We reached out to Schaefer for comment today, but got no response.