Jan 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Conservative group puts $700k behind Hawley

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.)
Sen. Josh Hawley explains his objection to certifying the 2020 election results hours after the U.S. Capitol siege. Photo: Congress.gov via Getty Images

A Republican group is raising and spending huge amounts of money defending Sen. Josh Hawley after he was ostracized for early January’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Why it matters: The Senate Conservatives Fund is plugging Hawley's ideological bona fides and backfilling lost corporate cash with needed political and financial support, helping inoculate him as he weighs reelection or a possible presidential campaign in 2024.

What's happening: The SCF, a political action committee that backs Senate candidates on the right, began sending pro-Hawley emails and text messages within days of the Jan. 6 Capitol siege. The Missourian was blamed for helping fuel it by leading a challenge to President Biden's election victory certification.

  • "The junior senator from Missouri's decision to object to the election results showed tremendous courage. It brought him instant scorn from the media and even a public rebuke from his own Senate leader," Mary Vought, the group's executive director, wrote in one email.
  • Federal Election Commission filings show the group has paid $397,782.53 since Jan. 12 to send texts and email blasts in support of Hawley.
  • The spam-blocking service RoboKiller estimates SCF has sent 2 million pro-Hawley text messages this month.
  • SCF has not reported independent expenditures in support of or in opposition to any other federal political candidate since the Georgia Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5.

The group also is raising money for Hawley directly. Vought told Axios it has "bundled" roughly $310,000 for the senator's campaign committee.

  • That fundraising comes as scores of corporate PACs swear off donations to Hawley and others who voted against the election certification.
  • The sums he's likely to lose, though, are dwarfed by the money SCF is raising for him. Hawley's campaign brought in under $200,000 from corporate PACs and trade groups during all of 2019 and 2020.

Hawley insists his Electoral College gambit was not designed to overturn the election, simply to convey his constituents' concerns about supposed voting irregularities.

  • Nevertheless, the fallout has been swift and severe. Democratic colleagues have called for an ethics investigation, a top publishing house dropped Hawley's planned book and a new political group sprouted up with the explicit purpose of unseating him.

Between the lines: While SCF's efforts are technically classified as political, they're geared more toward defending him in the near term than ensuring his reelection.

  • "Hawley is standing up for common-sense conservative values," Vought said, "and judging by the response we're seeing, a lot of Americans agree with him."
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