Jefferson City – Today, Attorney General Josh Hawley's communications director, Ryan Cross, released the following statement and attached a copy of the Attorney General's Office legal analysis. Official Attorney General's Office Legal Analysis
“General Hawley is complying with the law. He will continue to comply with the law. The law requires the Attorney General to reside at the seat of government. Josh is the first Attorney General in modern history who already lived in the local area of the Capitol before he was elected. He lives a brief commute from the Supreme Court building. His office is in the Supreme Court building. He’s in compliance.”
To: The Attorney General
From: Michael Martinich-Sauter, Deputy Attorney General (Legal Policy)
Re: § 27.010, RSMo
The application of § 27.010, RSMo to Attorney General Hawley is a novel question because no Attorney General in the modern era has been elected while already living locally, proximate to the capitol. For decades, Attorneys General lived in or hailed from other parts of the state before their elections. As described below, the Attorney General fully complies with the residency requirement of § 27.010, RSMo, by maintaining his current family residence in rural Boone County. This is because the Attorney General’s family residence is within ordinary commuting distance from the capitol complex, and thus “at the seat of government.” The purpose of the 1835 statute that imposed the residency requirement was to ensure the Attorney General was present to conduct business at the capitol. Attorney General Hawley plainly satisfies that requirement.
The Attorney General fully complies with the plain language of the statute by residing at his family home in rural Boone County, which is well within an ordinary commuting distance from the capitol complex. Section 27.010 provides that “[t]he attorney general shall reside at the seat of government.” § 27.010, RSMo (emphasis added). The plain and ordinary meaning of the word “at” “indicate[s] presence in, on, or near” something. Webster’s Third New Int’l Dictionary 136 (emphasis added). Just as do employees who commute to the capitol complex from various parts of Jefferson City or other areas of the county, the Attorney General lives “near” the seat of government, given that his ordinary commuting time from his home in rural Boone County to the Supreme Court Building is approximately 20 minutes.
This conclusion is especially clear in light of the original legislative purposes underlying § 27.010. The Attorney General residency requirement was first enacted in 1835. See State ex rel. Thrash v. Lamb, 141 S.W. 665, 668 (Mo. banc 1911). The same statute that first imposed the residency requirement also added the requirement that the Attorney General “advise the state officers and assembly” and act as the local prosecuting attorney for the seat of government. Id. By coupling these new requirements in a single statute, the General Assembly plainly intended to ensure that the Attorney General would be available to provide prompt legal advice and representation to state officials. That likely means that the Attorney General must live near enough to the capitol complex to be summoned from home, when needed, in order to carry out his duties. Attorney General Hawley is able to drive to the capitol complex in 20 minutes or less. This is indeed in line with the average commuting distance of residents of Cole and surrounding counties. The Attorney General’s close proximity to the office by car thus fully satisfies the original purposes underlying § 27.010’s residency requirement.
In fact, it is likely that the term “reside” as used in § 27.010 does not refer to the Attorney General’s personal home at all, but rather to the location from which the Attorney General conducts his official business. In State ex rel. Spradling v. Bondurant, 501 S.W.2d 527 (Mo. App. 1973), the Missouri Court of Appeals explained that § 27.010 prescribes the “official residence” of the Attorney General, just as § 32.040 prescribes the “official residence” of the Director of the Department of Revenue. Id. at 529 (emphasis added). Section 32.040 merely provides that the Department of Revenue shall maintain its headquarters in Jefferson City, and it does not purport to prescribe where the Director maintains his or her personal home. See § 32.040, RSMo. Thus, Spralding demonstrates that § 27.010 relates to the location from which the Attorney General primarily conducts official business, not the location of his personal home.
The Court’s conclusion is entirely consistent with the analysis above: the statute is intended to ensure the Attorney General is present at the seat of government to conduct his official duties. Attorney General Hawley plainly meets that requirement. For these reasons, the Attorney General has fully complied with § 27.010, RSMo.