Hallmark PAC asks Marshall for donation back

By Kevin Hardy and Allison Kite
The Kansas City Star/TNS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Hallmark Cards is asking U.S. Sens. Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall to return employee donations following last week’s riot in Washington, D.C.

Employees and retirees of the Kansas City company pool financial contributions through the Hallmark Cards PAC, donating to political candidates at the local, state and federal levels.

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

Both Republican senators have been widely condemned for supporting baseless allegations of voter fraud in the November presidential election. Those claims fueled supporters of President Donald Trump to storm the capitol building last week. Six people, including two U.S. Capitol Police officers, died in the aftermath of the violent attack.

“Hallmark believes the peaceful transition of power is part of the bedrock of our democratic system, and we abhor violence of any kind,” Hallmark spokeswoman JiaoJiao Shen said in a statement. “The recent actions of Senators Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall do not reflect our company’s values. As a result, HALLPAC requested Sens. Hawley and Marshall to return all HALLPAC campaign contributions.”

The political action committee began in 1976 and generally spends about $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 on Monday that it would suspend donations to any members of Congress that opposed recognizing the Electoral College victory of President-elect Joe Biden.

“At this time, we have suspended all support for officials who have impeded the peaceful transfer of power,” the company said in a statement. “Commerce Bank condemns violence in any form and believes the actions witnessed last week are abhorrent, anti-democratic and entirely contrary to supporting goodwill for Americans and businesses.”

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

Hallmark and Commerce Bank add to a growing list of corporations distancing themselves from Republicans who objected to certifying the results of the presidential election.

CNN reported other large company PACs, including American Express and Marriott, will suspend donations to the 147 members of Congress who voted against certifying Biden’s victory. Other companies, including Facebook and JPMorgan, are suspending political donations altogether.

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

Former Missouri Sen. John Danforth for years promoted Hawley as the future of the Republican Party and a contender for the White House. Last week, he said “it was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my life,” blaming his former protégé for helping to incite the insurrection.

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

Aside from its marquee greeting card business, the privately held Hallmark owns the Crayola brand of art supplies, cable television’s Hallmark Channel and the real estate development company that oversees the 85-acre Crown Center complex in Kansas City.

Hawley, a former Missouri attorney general, defeated Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, in 2018.

Marshall was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016 after defeating incumbent Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp. He was elected to the Senate in November, defeating Kansas physician Barbara Bollier, a Democrat.

Staffers for Marshall did not immediately provide a statement. Hawley’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

Congressman Roger Marshall addresses those gathered for a Garden City stop of the Keep Kansas Great Bus Tour at Wind River Grain.