Hilton suspended all political contributions in light of last week's violence on Capitol Hill. But its blanket approach to both parties may draw the ire from those who had nothing to do with supporting the mob's cause.
The world’s two largest hotel companies have different strategies in pulling the financial plug on politicians in light of the mob violence seen on Capitol Hill last Wednesday.
Hilton announced Monday it would cease all political donations due to the attacks on the U.S. Capitol from a pro-Trump mob.
The company already suspended its Hilton Political Action Committee, which has a track record of donating to candidates from both major U.S. political parties, in March 2020 due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. But its latest announcement shows the company doesn’t plan to return to the political fray anytime soon.
Marriott, the larger of the two companies, announced over the weekend it was suspending donations to those candidates who objected to the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
The political opposition campaign, spearheaded by President Donald Trump to refute his loss at a second term, spurred a mob to storm the U.S. Capitol. Even after the violence, select Republican members of Congress returned to Capitol Hill and voted against certifying the results of two swing states key to Biden’s victory — Arizona and Pennsylvania.
“Hilton condemns the lawlessness, violence and attack on American democracy seen at the United States Capitol last Wednesday,” a Hilton spokesperson said Monday in a statement to Skift. “As a direct result of recent events, Hilton will not be making political donations and will keep its [political action committee] suspended indefinitely. We commit to any future donations being shared equally across the major parties and only after careful assessment of the recipient’s voting record.”
Hilton declined to comment further on its decision to cease all political donations.
Companies outside the hotel orbit like JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup as well as chemicals company Dow similarly suspended all political donations in light of the Capitol Hill attacks. The non-targeted approach drew the ire of at least one politician.
“Those corporations that are suspending contributions from both parties? Well, that pisses me off,” Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) said on MSNBC on Monday. “I’d like to ask those corporations what the Democrats did wrong this week and why they’re going to take this position they should withhold contributions equally from the people who incited this mob and from those of us who are just trying to follow the Constitution and our laws.”
Marriott is one of the companies to take a more targeted stance in financially punishing those who supported the Trump election dispute.
“We have taken the destructive events at the Capitol to undermine a legitimate and fair election into consideration and will be pausing political giving from our Political Action Committee to those who voted against certification of the election,” a Marriott spokesperson said in a statement to Skift over the weekend.
The Marriott news was first reported by political newsletter Popular Information.
Airbnb Monday made a similar move to withhold further financial support to elected officials who voted against certifying Biden’s win.
“Airbnb strongly condemns last week’s attack on the US Capitol and the efforts to undermine our democratic process,” the company said in a statement. “We will continue to uphold our community policies by banning violent hate group members when we learn of such memberships, and the Airbnb PAC will update its framework and withhold support from those who voted against the certification of the presidential election results.”
Hilton previously gave $3,500 to Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who was the first senator to announce he would vote against the certification of Biden’s victory. Marriott gave $2,000 across two donations to political entities tied to the Missouri senator.
Both companies made additional donations to other politicians who voted against at least one of the state certifications, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
Over the span of the 2020 election cycle, Marriott gave $5,000 to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and $2,500 donations each to Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) and Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.). The company also made $1,000 donations apiece to Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.), Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.).
Marriott gave smaller donations to other objectors like Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).
Hilton’s other donations included $10,000 to McCarthy and $1,000 apiece to Carter and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.).
There were smaller donations to other objectors like Scalise and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
“In the U.S., we can use our voice and our vote to share our views. But what we can’t do is trample the Constitution; we can’t use violence and terror to force an agenda,” Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson wrote in a memo to employees last week that later circulated on LinkedIn. “It’s not who we are — and I would offer, it’s not what the vast majority of Americans want.”
Representatives with IHG and Hyatt noted neither company operates a political action committee. But Hyatt still condemned the violence from last week.
“We are shocked and horrified by the events that unfolded at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021. These acts of violence and disruption of democracy are indefensible, all compounded by the pandemic we are still experiencing,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “As a purpose-driven company dedicated to caring for people so they can be their best, we vehemently condemn violence of any kind — and firmly believe it has no place in society.“
Marriott’s financial steering away from politicians who supported the cause that sparked violence last week is the latest in a corporate rush away from entities tied to Trump.
Commercial real estate brokerage firm JLL is no longer handling the sales marketing process for the Trump Organization’s hotel in Washington, D.C. Online shopping company Shopify removed Trump-related e-commerce sites from its platform. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook banned the president from using their services.
“The best path forward to meet these challenges is for all Americans to defend our democracy by embracing its ideals,” Sorenson continued in his employee note. “It’s something we’ve been devoted to since the founding of the United States. I have every confidence that we will move beyond this moment and restore our sense of community and shared values.”
[UPDATE]: This story has been updated since publication to reflect statements by Airbnb, IHG, and Hyatt.
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Photo credit: Two of the hotel industry's largest companies have different approached to ending political donations in light of the Capitol Hill attacks last week. Tyler Merbler / Wikimedia