Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has broken with prominent Republican interests in announcing he’s appealing a court decision over campaign contributions.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R)

The law firm of state GOP Chairman Todd Graves headed a suit against Amendment 2, a popular ballot initiative passed by voters in last November’s election.

The measure restricted candidate donations to $2,600 and party contributions to $25,000.  It also prohibited contributions between political action committees (“PAC’s”) and some other committee transfers.  That portion of the amendment was overturned earlier this month by a federal district court in Kansas City.

The court’s Senior Judge Ortrie D. Smith also held that Amendment 2 unconstitutionally excluded certain corporations from contributing to PAC’s, and further struck down the amendment’s ban on corporations and labor unions making contributions campaign committees.

Graves’ law firm – Graves Garrett – applauded the partial judgement in its favor as “an example of federal judiciary’s essential role in protecting First Amendment Rights from infringement by states”.

Following the court’s action, state Democratic Party Chair Stephen Webber called on Hawley to appeal the ruling.  Webber said “Attorney General Josh Hawley should honor the will of the voters and take immediate legal action to restore these campaign finance rules.”

He further sought to link the judgement to GOP priorities, saying it “will make it easier for Eric Greitens and Missouri’s Republican officeholders to continue relying on special interests and billionaires with a pay-to-play agenda”.

In announcing his intention to appeal the judgement, Hawley noted Amendment 2 was approved by nearly 70 percent of the voters.  ​

“As Attorney General, I have a duty to defend the laws and constitution of the State of Missouri,” Hawley said. “The people of Missouri overwhelmingly voted to place these rules in our constitution, and my office will defend them.”

Judge Smith stayed enforcement of his judgement for 45 days to allow for an appeal.