Hallmark asks Hawley and Marshall to return political donations

Hallmark Cards asks the Senses. Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall of the Kansas City area make employee donations following last week’s riot in Washington, DC

Kansas City company employees and retirees pool their financial contributions through the Hallmark Cards PAC, making donations to political candidates at the local, state, and federal levels.

Over the past two years, the group has donated $ 7,000 to Hawley, Missouri, and $ 5,000 to Marshall, Kansas, officials said.

The two Republican senators have been widely condemned for supporting baseless allegations of electoral fraud in the November presidential election. The claims prompted supporters of President Donald Trump to storm Capitol Hill last week. Six people, including two United States Capitol Police officers, died as a result of the violent attack.

“Hallmark believes that the peaceful transition of power is part of the foundation of our democratic system, and we abhor violence in all its forms,” Hallmark spokeswoman JiaoJiao Shen said in a statement. “The recent actions of Senators Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall do not reflect the values ​​of our company. As a result, HALLPAC called on Senators Hawley and Marshall to return all contributions to the HALLPAC campaign.

The Political Action Committee began in 1976 and typically spends around $ 50,000 to $ 60,000 per year on campaign activities, Shen said. Donations are generally split evenly between Republican and Democratic candidates, she said.

Commerce Bank, another Kansas City-based company, announced Monday that it will suspend donations to all members of Congress who oppose recognition of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory at Electoral College.

“For the time being, we have suspended all support for officials who have hampered the peaceful transfer of power,” the company said in a statement. “Commerce Bank condemns violence in all its forms and believes that the actions observed over the past week are heinous, undemocratic, and utterly contrary to the goodwill support of Americans and businesses.”

Federal campaign fundraising records show the bank gave Hawley $ 2,000 in October 2019 and Marshall $ 2,500 in July 2020.

Hallmark and Commerce Bank join a growing list of companies distancing themselves from Republicans who opposed certification of the 2020 presidential election results.

CNN has reported other PACs from large companies, including American Express, Dow Chemical and Marriott, will suspend donations to 147 members of Congress who voted against certification of Biden’s victory. Other companies, including Facebook and JPMorgan, are completely suspending political donations.

The abandonment of donors is an unusual turning point in American politics.

Usually, politicians return funds from donors who have legal or ethical issues, said Robert Boatright, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Political Science at Clark University in Massachusetts.

“What’s more remarkable, though, is that Hallmark is one of the biggest employers in Kansas City, so that’s actually a pretty powerful statement for them,” said Boatright, a campaign finance expert. , in a press release. “That’s a big complaint.”

Kansas City-based H&R Block said in a statement it was “putting political donations on hold” to its bipartisan PAC.

“H&R Block unequivocally condemns acts of violence and supports a peaceful transfer of power,” the company said in a statement, adding that “now more than ever our country must stand united and honor our democratic process.”

H&R Block Inc. PAC donated $ 5,000 to Hawley’s campaign committee in March. The group gave Marshall $ 2,500 in March and $ 5,000 after the November election.

Several large Kansas City employers donated to Marshall or Hawley, but could not be immediately reached on whether they would continue to do so in the future.

The JE Dunn PAC donated a total of $ 5,600 to the Marshall campaign this year. Polsinelli donated Marshall’s campaign $ 2,500 in 2020 and $ 3,500 in 2019.

Evergy gave Marshall $ 7,500 this year and Hawley $ 5,000.

As Marshall contested for his Senate seat this year, Hawley would not be re-elected until 2024.

In 2019, the PAC representing Kansas City-based Burns & McDonnell donated $ 10,000 to Marshall and $ 5,000 to Hawley. This group exists to defend employee share ownership plans, such as the one that benefits employees at the engineering and architecture firm, spokeswoman Kristi Widmar said.

“Our PAC supports candidates from both parties who will listen to the great good that comes from employee ownership,” she said in a statement. “We are troubled and discouraged by the actions of some of our elected officials in our democratic electoral process. We are currently reviewing our policies to ensure that elected officials supported by our PAC reflect the values ​​of our employee-owned company. “

PACs representing Sprint and T-Mobile have given to both Hawley and Marshall over the past two years. Seattle-area-based T-Mobile bought Sprint Corp. of Overland Park last year.

In a statement, T-Mobile spokeswoman Lisa Belot said the company was reviewing its political donations.

“The assault on the United States Capitol and on democracy was unacceptable,” the statement read. “T-Mobile has supported many elected officials in a bipartisan approach to advance a political agenda that keeps the United States at the forefront of wireless technology. In light of recent events, we intend to re-evaluate our PAC donations, and we look forward to working with the new administration.

The corporate fallout is just the latest blow to the freshman senator from Missouri. Hawley was the first senator to announce an objection last week. After Wednesday’s uprising, many Republican leaders began to abandon it, and Simon & Schuster canceled publication of their upcoming book, “The Tyranny of Big Tech.”

Former Missouri Senator John Danforth for years promoted Hawley as the future of the Republican Party and a candidate for the White House. Last week he said “it was the biggest mistake I have ever made in my life”, accusing his former protégé of helping to incite the insurgency.

Congresswoman Cori Bush, a Democrat representing St. Louis, called for the expulsion of all lawmakers who challenged Biden’s Electoral College victory, which would include Hawley and Marshall.

In addition to its renowned greeting card business, privately-owned Hallmark owns the Crayola art supplies brand, the Hallmark Channel cable TV, and the real estate development company that oversees the 85-acre Crown Center complex in Kansas City. .

Hawley, a former Missouri attorney general, beat Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, in 2018.

Marshall was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2016 after defeating incumbent Republican Representative Tim Huelskamp. He was elected to the Senate in November, defeating Kansas doctor Barbara Bollier, a Democrat.

Staff at the Marshall and Hawley offices did not respond to requests for comment.

This story was originally published 11 January 2021 1:15 pm.

Kansas City Star Stories

Kevin Hardy covers the affairs of the Kansas City Star. He previously covered business and politics at the Des Moines Register. He also worked for newspapers in Kansas and Tennessee. He graduated from the University of Kansas

Profile Image of Allison Kite

Allison Kite reports on Town Hall and local politics for The Star. She joined the newspaper in February 2018 and covered the midterm elections on both sides of the border. She holds a BA in Journalism with minors in Economics and Public Policy from the University of Kansas.