Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, facing criticism from longtime backers and donors in the wake of the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week, defended himself in a newspaper column on Wednesday, accusing the media and “Washington establishment” of deceiving Americans into considering him an “insurrectionist.”
Hawley’s column appeared in the Southeast Missourian, a daily newspaper in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
It marked the first time Hawley, 41, has publicly defended himself since the incursion on Jan. 6, when a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol following a rally near the White House.
Five people died, and lawmakers were forced to hide as rioters breached the building, delaying the certification of Electoral College votes that was the last step in finalizing Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over Trump.
Hawley was the first senator to announce a challenge to the Electoral College results.
In his column, Hawley noted that Democrats objected after losing the 2000, 2004 and 2016 presidential elections and were “praised for standing up for democracy.”
“This time around, anyone who objected has been called an ‘insurrectionist,’” he wrote.
Sadly, much of the media and many members of the Washington establishment want to deceive Americans into thinking those who raised concerns incited violence, simply by voicing the concern. That’s false. And the allegation itself is corrosive and dangerous. https://t.co/drhsK54MzQ pic.twitter.com/rEk9G5DOo5
— Senator Hawley Press Office (@SenHawleyPress) January 13, 2021
“Sadly, much of the media and many members of the Washington establishment want to deceive Americans into thinking those who raised concerns incited violence, simply by voicing the concern. That’s false. And the allegation itself is corrosive and dangerous.”
Multiple donors have pulled financial support from Hawley. Meanwhile, the anti-Trump Lincoln Project said it would take out full-page newspaper ads calling out his remaining donors.
Email messages seeking comment from Hawley’s office on Wednesday have not been returned.
The health care IT firm Cerner Corp. based in Kansas City, Missouri, said Wednesday that it will suspend contributions “to any candidate or official who took part in or incited violence last week in Washington, D.C.”
Spokeswoman Misti Preston said the company isn’t “naming specific names,” but Cerner’s political action committee has donated $10,000 to a Hawley-sponsored PAC over the past two years.
Late Tuesday, two St. Louis-based companies — the utility Ameren Corp. and the financial firm Edward Jones — said they were suspending campaign contributions.
The law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner also announced a halt, at least temporarily, to political contributions. The firm is among the largest in St. Louis.
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Ameren, Edward Jones and the law firm have all contributed to Hawley.
Walmart said Tuesday that its PAC “is indefinitely suspending contributions to those members of Congress who voted against the lawful certification of state electoral college votes.” Walmart gave nearly $1.2 million to federal candidates in the 2017-18 election cycle but none to Hawley, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Hallmark Cards, based in Kansas City, earlier this week asked Hawley and Republican Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas to return employee campaign donations. The company said its employees donated $7,000 to Hawley and $5,000 to Marshall during the last two years through its PAC.
Hawley, in his 739-word essay, said those involved in the Capitol incursion must be punished, saying, “Mob violence is always wrong.”
“But democratic debate is not mob violence,” Hawley wrote. “It is in fact how we avoid that violence.”
Hawley wrote that he has heard from many Missourians concerned about election integrity.
“They have a right to be heard in Congress,” he said. “And as their representative, it is my duty to speak on their behalf. That is just what I did last week.”
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