Monday, September 9, 2013

Hallmark-related interests fuel pro-medical research tax's growing campaign war chest

Posted By on Mon, Sep 9, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Irv Hockaday is among several pro-tax donors with Hallmark ties.
  • Irv Hockaday is among several pro-tax donors with Hallmark ties.

Hallmark Cards-related people and organizations have played a big part in funding campaign resources for advocates of passing a sales-tax increase in Jackson County to fund translational research.

The Committee for Research Treatments and Cures has boosted its bottom line to $620,000, thanks to hefty donations coming to its coffers late last week.

On September 6, Hallmark Global Services LLC wrote a $100,000 check for the pro-tax committee, which hopes that voters in Jackson County will show up to the polls on November 5 and vote in favor of increasing Jackson County sales taxes by a half-cent to channel $40 million a year in proceeds to St. Luke's Health System, the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Children's Mercy Hospital.

Hallmark's donation was followed the next day by Inergy LP founder John Sherman's contribution of the same size. Sherman has served on the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, a group of local business executives who pool their resources for various causes. The Civic Council's chairman is Hallmark Cards president and CEO Don Hall Jr.

The Civic Council itself has made a pair of $100,000 donations since August 9 (most recently September 4), and Hall chipped in $100,000 of his own recently to the Committee for Research Treatments and Cures.

Irv Hockaday, retired Hallmark CEO, rounds out the Hallmark-tied interests who have donated to the committee. He spent $10,000 on August 29. J.E. Dunn Construction Co. and a subsidiary of local insurance brokerage Lockton Companies have donated $100,000 and $10,000, respectively.

Hallmark is front and center in the effort to pass the medical research tax. The Hall Family Foundation said it would pledge $75 million toward building a medical-research lab so tax money from the sales-tax increase wouldn't have to go toward bricks-and-mortar construction. But the offer is good only if Jackson County voters approve the tax.

Organized opposition to the tax has been limited. The Committee to Stop a Bad Cure, run by ex-Kansas City Star newsie Jim Fitzpatrick, hasn't filed any reports with the Missouri Ethics Commission so far, which suggests an absence of major donations.

Outside of Kansas City, Citizens for Responsible Research has been airing limited television ads to oppose the Jackson County tax. That committee is organized by Springfield personal injury lawyer Brad Bradshaw, and is funded entirely by Bradshaw. He's pushing for a statewide tax for medical research for some time in the future. To date, he has spent $106,306 toward opposing the Jackson County tax.


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