Republican Missouri Attorney General candidate Kurt Schaefer is denying a claim that he pressured the University of Missouri over employee leave policies, in an effort to block rival Josh Hawley from running. Hawley is a law professor at the University running against Schaefer for the Republican nomination for Attorney General.

The Missouri Ethics Commission is investigating possible violations of conflict of interest laws. Schaefer, a state Senator from Columbia, says outside money is influencing that investigation.

Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia)

Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia)

“This is more Washington D.C. sleaze, but I’ll tell you what,” Schaefer said. “If you defund Planned Parenthood for the first time in the history of the state of Missouri like I did, if you close an abortion for the first time in decades like I did, the long knives come out.”

The Commission previously said it did not have the power to investigate criminal allegations but later reversed its decision and said it would investigate Schaefer.

Former Cass County prosecutor Teresa Hensley and St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman are running on the Democratic ticket for Attorney General.

Brad Tregnago of KSSZ contributed to this story.