Published January 8th, 2021 at 8:06 AM
A Joplin businessman who helped bankroll U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley’s first campaign denounced him on Thursday as a “political opportunist” who used “irresponsible, inflammatory, and dangerous tactics” to incite the rioting that took over the U.S. Capitol Building.
In a statement late Thursday, David Humphreys, president and CEO of Tamko Building Products, added his voice to a growing chorus of Republicans angry at Hawley for leading a challenge to the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Humphreys called on the U.S. Senate to censure Hawley “for provoking yesterday’s riots in our nation’s capital.”
The statement to The Missouri Independent came a few hours after Hawley’s political mentor, former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth, said in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that supporting Hawley was “the worst mistake I ever made in my life.”
It also came on the same day that the publisher Simon & Schuster canceled a contract with Hawley for a book it had expected to release in June.
Prior to 2020, Humphreys was a major donor to Missouri Republicans. Along with his sister, Sarah Atkins, and his mother, Ethelmae Humphreys, his family provided $4.4 million of the $9.2 million Hawley raised for his 2016 campaign for attorney general.
David Humphreys personally donated $2.875 million.
Humphreys’ full statement, as provided to The Independent:
“In October 2016 I publicly voiced my opposition to Donald Trump in the NY Times saying ‘At some point, you have to look in the mirror and recognize that you cannot possibly justify support for Trump to your children…’
“I need to say the same about Missouri’s U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, who has shown his true colors as an anti-democracy populist by supporting Trump’s false claim of a ‘stolen election.’ Hawley’s irresponsible, inflammatory, and dangerous tactics have incited violence and further discord across America. And he has now revealed himself as a political opportunist willing to subvert the Constitution and the ideals of the nation he swore to uphold.
“Hawley should be censured by his Senate colleagues for his actions which have undermined a peaceful transition of power and for provoking yesterday’s riots in our nation’s capital. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to protect our country and its Constitutional underpinnings.”
Hawley’s Senate office did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Humphreys and his family donated about $16 million to Missouri Republicans for the 2016 election cycle, but he has broken with the party and its leaders in significant moments. In April 2018, he urged then-Gov. Eric Greitens to resign amid investigations of an alleged sexual attack in 2015 and improprieties in campaign financing. Greitens did not resign until late May 2018, when it became clear that the Missouri House would impeach him.
And in 2019, he urged Gov. Mike Parson to veto a restrictive abortion law that outlawed the procedure after six weeks and included no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Parson signed the bill and Humphreys bankrolled an unsuccessful petition drive to force a referendum on the law.
Hawley was the first U.S. Senator to announce he would join with House members to file written objections to the electoral votes of several states where Trump has claimed, without showing proof, that fraud had cost him the election.
The debate on those objections was just beginning Wednesday when a mob of Trump supporters, fresh from a rally where Trump asked them to march to the Capitol, forced their way into the building. Amid clashes with police, a woman from San Diego was killed by police gunfire and several officers were injured.
After the building was cleared and debate resumed, half the Senators who had planned to vote for the objections changed their minds. Hawley did not, and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who sits behind Hawley in the Senate, said this:
“Those who choose to continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate democratic election will forever be seen as complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy.”
Simon & Schuster announced about 5 p.m. that it would not publish “The Tyranny of Big Tech,” which was expected in June.
“We did not come to this decision lightly” the company stated. “As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints; at the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom.”
Hawley responded by calling the action a “direct assault on the First Amendment” and accusing the company of breaching its contract. He added that he would sue the publisher.
“This could not be more Orwellian” Hawley said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Simon & Schuster is canceling my contract because I was representing my constituents, leading a debate on the Senate floor on voter integrity, which they have now decided to redefine as sedition.”
Rudi Keller covers the state budget, energy and the legislature in Missouri. This story first appeared on the Missouri Independent, a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering state government, politics and policy.