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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."

Go deeper

Senate Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In a closely divided Congress, the Senate’s Mischief Makers could thwart their leaders' best-laid plans with their own agendas.

Why it matters: On Wednesday night, we shared a list of House members who our leadership sources on the Hill consider some of the top troublemakers. But their Senate counterparts may be even more impactful in a 50-50 chamber, where Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tiebreaking vote.

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President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

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  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.