Hawley Allies Exaggerate His Role in Investigating Missouri’s Rape Kit Backlog to Aid His Campaign

“Missourians are learning that Josh Hawley will only do the right thing if he can take complete credit for it, then use it to boost his political career. That’s political opportunism and moral cynicism in a nutshell. And that’s Josh Hawley,” said American Bridge spokesperson Amelia Penniman.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Ad Check: TV spot claiming Hawley ‘uncovered’ untested rape kits doesn’t tell whole story
By Jack Suntrup | August 30, 2018

  • One Nation, “a dark-money group connected to longtime GOP consultant Karl Rove is telling Missouri voters that Attorney General Josh Hawley ‘uncovered thousands of untested rape kits’ in the state.”
  • “The ad, however, leaves out context. Advocates, law enforcement and survivors of sexual violence have for years sounded the alarm on kits languishing in crime labs, police departments and hospitals.”
  • “On Oct. 29, the Columbia Missourian published an investigation on untested rape kits in Missouri. On Nov. 9, Hawley launched a statewide audit of untested rape kits, and cited the Missourian’s reporting in his announcement. The ad makes no mention of advocacy efforts or newspaper reporting.”
  • “‘It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets credit,’ said Colleen Coble, CEO of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. ‘I do think the credit goes in large part to sexual assault survivors and their advocates who have raised these issues for years.’
  • “‘In Missouri, many of these cases go unsolved because of the backlog of untested rape kits,’ Beth Neland, a police detective in Smithville, Mo., says in the One Nation advertisement. ‘Attorney General Josh Hawley uncovered thousands of these untested rape kits. They contain the DNA evidence to bring these sexual predators to justice.’”
  • “Chris Pack, spokesman for One Nation, said the group was not concerned about the accuracy of its piece.”
  • “McCaskill’s campaign issued a news release after the ad aired, arguing in all caps that ‘Hawley’s investigation has not actually resulted in expedited testing of rape kits or discovery of untested rape kits; he simply aggregated the number of untested rape kits in the state.’”
  • “Indeed, Hawley has not claimed that the kits he accounted for were improperly hidden. The state has not historically had standards for storage and tracking of rape kits. And even though Hawley accounted for untested rape kits, the state still lacks the resources to process the backlog, Coble said.”
  • “Mary Compton, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, would not directly comment on the advertisement but said the Missourian did ‘important reporting to help bring this issue to the forefront.’”
  • “It was unclear Wednesday if any new prosecutions in the state have been launched using evidence contained in any of the untested rape kits Hawley identified.”

Read the full article here.