Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens might be gone, having resigned his office last week under a cloud of scandal, but a group aligned with Senate Democrats is working to ensure he won't be forgotten in the state's marquee Senate contest.
A new television ad by Senate Majority PAC continues to link the disgraced governor with Attorney General Josh Hawley, the likely Republican challenger to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, signaling that Democrats believe Greitens will remain a drag on Hawley in the Senate race even though he is no longer in office.
"You can sweep it. You can scrub it. You can toss out the dirty governor," a narrator says in the ad. "But you won't clean up Jefferson City with Josh Hawley around."
Hawley opened an investigation into Greitens earlier this year for his campaign's use of a nonprofit donor list, ultimately recommending that the St. Louis circuit attorney charge Greitens with felony computer tampering. Prosecutors agreed to drop the charge following the governor's announcement that he planned to resign.
But, the Senate Majority PAC ad suggests Hawley "dragged his feet on investigating Greitens," and questions why he has not opened a separate investigation into a state Senate Republican leader who has faced scrutiny for legislation that would have benefited a major donor. The donor, David Humphreys, has also supported Hawley and many other Missouri Republicans.
"Josh Hawley," the ad concludes. "Another politician we can't trust."
Hawley has previously called such attacks "nonsense," telling CNN last month, "You can say a lot of things about me, but that I'm not a tough prosecutor is just ridiculous."
But Senate Majority PAC has blanketed the airwaves with its attacks on Hawley, spending roughly $5 million in the state so far this election cycle, including a series of Greitens-related ads. The group plans to add another $1 million to its investment with this latest spot. The aggressive early spending reflects the importance of the Senate contest, with McCaskill viewed as among the most vulnerable Democrats running for reelection this year.
For his part, Hawley is hoping to move on from Greitens, telling the Associated Press recently that he expects the governor's resignation would give voters "more bandwidth now to focus on the race." The Republican is now in the midst of a 100-stop tour of businesses throughout Missouri.