Marriott International Inc., the world’s largest hotel company, was for years a steady contributor to the reelection campaigns of U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, a Baltimore County Republican. So was Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal.
Harris, in his sixth term, won’t be receiving political donations from Marriott’s or Comcast’s political action committees anytime soon, though. The Bethesda-based hotelier and the communications giant say they are suspending contributions to the 147 Republican lawmakers, including Harris, who refused last week to certify Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Other deep-pocketed political players, such as American Express and Blue Cross Blue Shield, also said Monday that they were halting campaign donations to any lawmaker who voted to “subvert” the election results. Those companies, however, don’t have a record of giving to Harris in recent years.
Still others, such as Eli Lilly and Co. and Hanger Inc., which have both contributed to Harris through their PACs, did not single out the Marylander or the 146 other Republicans. But those companies suggested Wednesday’s violent occupation of the U.S. Capitol — and the statements and votes of lawmakers surrounding the siege — would weigh on decisions about which candidates they fund.
“While we support candidates from both parties with a variety of political views, we expect any candidate we support to demonstrate respect for people and respect for our democratic process and institutions,” said Eli Lilly, the Indianapolis-based drug company, in a statement when The Baltimore Sun asked about Harris.
Eli Lilly’s political action committee gave Harris’ 2020 campaign $1,000, according to Federal Election Committee records. Marriott has made four contributions to his campaigns in recent years, the last one of $1,000 coming before he began his fourth term in 2017. Comcast’s PAC has made a dozen donations to Harris in the last 10 years, most recently $2,000 last year.
Comcast’s decision was reported by CNBC, of which it is the parent company.
“The peaceful transition of power is a foundation of America’s democracy,” the Philadelphia-based company said. “Consistent with this view, we will suspend all of our political contributions to those elected officials who voted against certification of the Electoral College votes, which will give us the opportunity to review our political giving policies and practices.”
Hanger of Austin, Texas, which makes orthotic and prosthetic products, contributed $1,000 to Harris last year. It said in a statement Monday that is “reexamining all donations on an individual basis to ensure that, moving forward, we do not support representatives who undermine the democratic process.”
Defense giant Northrop Grumman of Falls Church, Virginia, said in a statement Monday night that it was pausing its PAC giving “and evaluating the way forward.” Northrop Grumman has been a Harris contributor, as has Chicago-based Exelon Corp., the parent company of BGE.
Exelon said Tuesday that it “will take this opportunity to conduct a thorough review of our political contributions and PAC activity.” During the review, spokesperson Paul Adams said, “we will not be making contributions to lawmakers who voted to contest the outcome of the election.”
Harris has not budged on his support for Republican President Donald Trump, whom Democrats hope to remove from office for encouraging the mob that forced its way into the Capitol, causing a melee in which five people, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer, died.
“I’m not sure I see where the incitement to riot is there. You can read whatever you want into his words,” Harris told WCBM-AM in Baltimore on Monday.
Harris was among the GOP leaders arguing last week during the Electoral College count on behalf of the president’s unfounded contention that some election results must be dismissed because of fraud or other irregularities. No evidence has been presented of any fraud.
Biden was elected with 306 electoral votes to 232 for Trump, who refuses to concede. While states certify their own results, Congress must formally accept the vote submissions.
Harris, who did not respond to interview requests Monday from The Sun, was asked by the radio station about comments Sunday by Gov. Larry Hogan, a fellow Republican, on CNN’s “State of the Union.” When host Jake Tapper asked Hogan if Harris should resign, the governor said: “I’m not sure what Congressman Harris should do, but I was extremely outraged at some of the things he did and said.”
Harris responded: “I’m outraged. Hundreds of people are going to die because he bungled the rollout of the vaccination program in Maryland. He airs on national television because, I guess, he doesn’t have the nerve to call me up and say, ‘Hey, Andy, what are you thinking on this?’”
Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci responded: “Our Capitol was attacked, people are dead, and this is what he’s outraged about? Something the governor said on a talk show?”
The state is in its first phase of vaccine distribution, which prioritizes health care workers, first responders and nursing home residents and staff.
The Maryland Democratic Party called last week for Harris to resign. On Monday, 71 members of the Maryland House of Delegates and 13 state senators, all Democrats, wrote to Harris, calling on him to resign.
“Rather than recognizing that your words and behavior have damaged our democracy, have threatened our Constitution, and have undermined the nation you are sworn to, your response to the attack on our Capitol was to continue to use the same words and behavior,” their letter said.
Harris is a physician and the only Republican in Maryland’s 10-man congressional delegation. He represents parts of the counties of Baltimore, Carroll and Harford, as well as the Eastern Shore.
Harris, who promised in 2010 to serve no more than six terms, has about $1 million in his campaign account, according to his latest FEC filing.
It’s not yet clear how much Harris and others could be affected by the move of a number of corporations to halt funding to Republicans who refused to accept the Electoral College count.
“Let’s see how long this ban lasts, and also whether other corporations follow their lead,” said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. “At this point, it is mainly a symbolic statement. Still, some of these are household names, so the decision will grab some attention.”