Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), who is challenging Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMissouri county issues travel advisory for Lake of the Ozarks after Memorial Day parties Senate faces protracted floor fight over judges amid pandemic safety concerns Amash on eyeing presidential bid: ‘Millions of Americans’ want someone other than Trump, Biden MORE’s (D) bid for reelection, suggested in a speech last month that the sexual revolution of the 1960s and ’70s led directly to the human sex trafficking crisis.

The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday that Hawley made the remarks at an event hosted by a religious group, Missouri Renewal Project, in December. The newspaper obtained audio of his comments.

“We have a human trafficking crisis in our state and in this city and in our country because people are willing to purchase women, young women, and treat them like commodities,” Hawley said. “There is a market for it.”


“Why is there? Because our culture has completely lost its way,” he continued. “The sexual revolution has led to exploitation of women on a scale that we would never have imagined, never have imagined.”

Hawley, who is considered the GOP favorite to challenge McCaskill in the 2018 midterm elections, created a unit of the attorney general’s office to combat sex trafficking shortly after stepping into the role last year.

McCaskill’s campaign did not immediately respond to the Star’s request for comment.

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Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco, an expert on sex trafficking, told the Star, however, that there is no evidence linking the sexual revolution to an increase in sex trafficking, saying that the problem has existed in the U.S. for centuries.

“I have a brothel guide from 1908,” she told the Star.

Hawley comments risk echoing remarks from McCaskill’s last GOP Senate challenger, former Rep. Todd Akin (Mo.). Akin lost party support and eventually the election after he said in 2012 that women who are victims of what he called “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant because “the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.”

Austin Petersen, another of McCaskill’s Republican challengers, said in an email to the Star that Hawley’s comments will not be helpful for unseating her. 

“It would also be great if GOP senate candidates could stop writing Claire’s attack ads and fundraising emails for her. These comments do nothing but foster a Todd Akin-style culture war that the GOP will lose to a formidable female incumbent,” Petersen said.