Democrats are seeking to question one of U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley’s longtime advisers as part of a lawsuit alleging the attorney general’s office under Hawley knowingly violated Missouri’s open records laws.
On Thursday, a subpoena was issued for Daniel Hartman, who served as Hawley’s chief of staff during his short tenure as Missouri attorney general and is now state director for Hawley’s Senate office.
Hartman’s attorney said Friday that he had already arranged to voluntarily sit for deposition in March.
His deposition is being sought as part of a lawsuit filed in 2019 by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The lawsuit seeks an order from Cole County Circuit Court declaring that the attorney general’s office under Hawley violated the Sunshine Law when it withheld emails between Hawley’s taxpayer-funded staff and his political consultants during the 2018 Senate campaign.
The suit also asks the court to impose civil penalties against the attorney general’s office for “knowingly and purposely” violating the Sunshine Law. And the Campaign Commitee wants the office to pay its attorney’s costs.
Before serving as Hawley’s chief of staff, Hartman was custodian of records for the attorney general’s office.
A spokesman for Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who took over the office after Hawley was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018, declined to comment.
Neither the committee nor Hawley’s Senate office immediately responded to a request for comment.
The lawsuit focuses on a records request the committee made in September 2017.
Hawley’s office denied the request in a letter to the committee in October 2017. In that letter, Hartman said the office “searched our records and found no responsive records.”
But a year later, an investigation by The Kansas City Star revealed that such communications did exist.
Shortly after he was sworn into office as attorney general, Hawley’s staff began using private email rather than government accounts to communicate with his out-of-state political consultants.
Hawley’s campaign consultants gave direct guidance and tasks to his taxpayer-funded staff and led meetings during work hours in the state Supreme Court building, where the attorney general’s official office is located.