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Tag: eric schmitt

As Prosecutor, Hawley Sentenced Violent Sex Abuser To Probation -- Not Prison

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has spent the past few weeks attacking Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson for her sentencing record, including falsely accusing her of showing leniency for sexual predators. But Hawley's own record as a prosecutor may not match his current rhetoric.

Last Wednesday, Hawley began his assault on President Joe Biden's nominee to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer with a lengthy Twitter thread. The Missouri Republican's widely debunked accusations falsely asserted that "Judge Jackson has a pattern of letting child porn offenders off the hook for their appalling crimes, both as a judge and as a policymaker" and showed an "alarming trend of lenient sentencing."

This week, Hawley used his time at Jackson's confirmation hearing to grill the nominee — the first Black woman nominated to the high court in U.S. history — over her handling of sex crime cases.

Noting one case, in which an 18-year-old offender received a three-month prison sentence for child pornography violations, he repeatedly demanded to know, "Do you regret it?"

Hawley then asked whether it would "surprise" Jackson to learn that another offender whom Jackson sentenced to 57 months in prison was "a recidivist," meaning that he had engaged in additional crimes later.

Jackson responded noting the totality of her record and observed that "there is data in the Sentencing Commission and elsewhere that indicates that there are recidivism — serious recidivism issues — and so, among the various people that I have sentenced, I am not surprised that there are people who re-offend and it is a terrible thing that happens in our system."

While Hawley has never served as a judge, he does have experience prosecuting sex crime cases as Missouri's attorney general from 2017 to 2019. Although that office has only a small prosecutorial role in the state's criminal justice system, Hawley's brief tenure was marred by criticism of his handling of sexual abuse claims by victims.

In January 2021, the Kansas City Star published a guest column by Pam Hamilton, a former Hawley appointee who questioned his handling of human trafficking cases. "I was on Josh Hawley’s human trafficking task force," the headline of Hamilton's story read. "He sought TV cameras, not justice."

One prosecution Hawley did handle as attorney general was a 2018 sexual abuse and domestic assault case against former Knox County Sheriff Robert Becker. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol's probable cause statement, Becker was charged with violent sexual encounters against his former partner, who alleged he "choked" her with a shirt in one instance.

Instead of bringing the case to trial, Hawley agreed to a plea deal in which Becker served no jail time and instead received two years of probation and resigned his office.

"There is no place for law enforcement officers who abuse their power," Hawley said at the time. "As a result of today's plea, Mr. Becker can no longer serve in any law enforcement capacity. The Knox County community is safer as a result of today's action."

Hawley stepped down as Missouri's top law enforcement official in January 2019 after he was elected to the U.S. Senate. His successor, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, eventually filed probation violations in court against Becker. In November 2020 a judge ruled that Becker had failed to complete the mandatory sexual offender counseling required under the plea bargain and sentenced him to 20 days of "shock incarceration" — jail time intended to "shock" an offender into avoiding future crimes.

A spokesperson for Hawley did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Missouri Attorney General Acts Forcefully To Spread Covid-19 In Schools, Counties

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

On Thursday, a startling announcement appeared on Facebook: “This is to inform you that the Laclede County [Missouri] Health Department has been forced to cease all COVID-19 related work at the current time. This includes: case investigations, contact tracing, quarantine orders, and public announcements of current cases, deaths, etc.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 37 percent of adults in Laclede County, Missouri, are fully vaccinated, levels of community transmission are high, and cases have increased 13 percent in just the last week. But now the health department is simply … stepping away.

The reason for this was straightforward enough. And profoundly disgusting.

Laclede County, and counties across Missouri, have been forced to drop all assistance to their communities, even as cases in Missouri are once again rising, because of a threat issued by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. As the Kansas City Star reports, Schmitt wrote to both county officials and school districts across the state on Tuesday, threatening them with legal action if they do not “drop mask mandates, quarantine rules or other public health orders.”

Schmitt has followed up with this official request to parents, posted to his site as the Missouri attorney general, in which he invites parents to report their children’s schools if they do anything—anything—to help protect students against COVID-19.

“Parents are urged to reach out directly to the Attorney General’s Office if their school district is continuing to enforce mask mandates, quarantines, and other similar COVID-19 public health orders.”

Eric Schmitt is running for the Senate. Killing Missourians is his platform.

As the Star reports, Schmitt has “embarked on a quest to overturn COVID-19 mitigation rules in municipalities and school districts across the state.” Schmitt is basing his actions on a ruling from Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green, who declared that the state Department of Health rule allowing it to delegate authority to county officials is “unconstitutional because it gave rulemaking powers to unelected officials.”

The ruling itself is clearly ridiculous. All legislation is enforced by executive branch agencies, and whether it’s the agriculture department or the department of transportation, not just defining the details of policy but delegating some authority to local governments is routine. Otherwise administering any program would be next to impossible. Green almost certainly knows that. Just as he knew that the rule he declared unconstitutional in a time of crisis had been in place for a century.

All that had to happen to reverse Green’s ruling was for the state to make a simple appeal. In fact, that appeal should have been automatic since the ruling seriously undercuts the power not just of local governments, but of the state government. As The Missouri Independent reports, the director of the Department of Health and Senior Services asked Schmitt to appeal the ruling.

And then …

“We have informed DHSS that we will not appeal or take any further action in this case, and that they should begin enforcement efforts immediately,” said Chris Nuelle, spokesman for the attorney general’s office.

By which the attorney general’s office means that the state should start policing counties and schools to make sure that no one, anywhere, is doing anything to help.

In spite of a study from the state department of health that specifically found mask mandates in St. Louis and Kansas City had both decreased cases and saved lives, St. Louis County folded on Thursday, removing its mask mandate under duress from Schmitt.

But some schools are not going quietly. Despite Schmitt’s threat, a handful of districts across the state are continuing to enforce restrictions. Under Schmitt’s interpretation, it’s not just that schools aren’t allowed to have mask mandates, it’s that they can’t even send a student home who is known to have tested positive for COVID-19. They can take no actions to protect their students.

Schmitt is currently filling his official Twitter stream by trumpeting every surrender to his demands as “a huge win.” In his tweets, Schmitt labels any effort to distance students who have tested positive as “segregation” and repeats threats of prosecution to districts that continue to take actions in defense of students.

With President Joe Biden scheduled to come to Missouri, Schmitt also posted a letter—again, in his official capacity as attorney general—in which he blames Biden for inflation and goes on an extended rant about “treadmill tragedies.”

The back to back tweets in which Schmitt promotes his sneering letter to Biden and those in which he threatens actions against schools—not just for masks, but for quarantining ill students—is a vivid display of the fact that Schmitt thinks killing Missourians is his ticket to the Senate. He’s owning the libs by taking actions that directly result in illness, long-term disability, and death for hundreds if not thousands of Missourians. He knows this. He thinks it’s a good thing. For him.

This is, at bare minimum, wanton indifference to the effects of his actions on the health and lives of the citizens of Missouri. To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, if that’s not a crime, it certainly should be.