On the eve of the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the Democratic National Committee was rocked by the release of an archive of nearly 20,000 internal e-mails — the result of a hack many believe was orchestrated by the Russian government.
Amid the slew of documents the website WikiLeaks released last week are a handful of e-mails that reference one of Arizona's largest employers.
In a string of eight e-mails, DNC staff discussed a potential $60,000 donation to the convention from Honeywell International, which operates a Phoenix-based aerospace division that employs nearly 10,000 people.
Honeywell is one of the nation's most prolific contributors to political action committees. Over the past year, the DNC has reversed bans on contributions from PACs and lobbyists.
In an e-mail dated May 22, the DNC's Mid-Atlantic finance director Alexandra Shapiro brought up the prospect of the hefty contribution and what Honeywell wanted in return.
"This is $60k we definitely wouldn't get otherwise and Honeywell is the biggest PAC contributor in the country," Shapiro wrote to two colleagues. "... [T]hey're definitely a bit pissy about our PAC policy flip flop and that offering this gesture would definitely help our relationship with them for later in the election cycle and for years to come."
Honeywell communications director Rob Ferris declined New Times' request for an interview but confirmed the donation.
"Not much for us to say other than, Honeywell supports those who support policies that are good for our business," Ferris wrote in an e-mail to New Times.
In the DNC e-mail thread, staffers indicated that the donation would secure Honeywell representatives a hotel room during the convention.
"The hotel room for $60k shouldn't be a problem," a staffer responded to Shapiro's inquiry.
WikiLeaks' trove of DNC e-mails expose the inner workings of the organization's intensive fundraising efforts. Some of the correspondence showed party officials disparaging Sen. Bernie Sanders and attempting to impede his efforts to win the Democratic presidential nomination.
In the wake of the scandal, the DNC issued a statement.
"On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email," the statement reads in part. "Individual staffers have also rightfully apologized for their comments, and the DNC is taking appropriate action to ensure it never happens again."
Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC's chair, resigned the position she'd held since 2011, effective at the convention's end.
Honeywell's 9,500 Arizona employees, meanwhile, may have reason to be a little irked at their bosses' political largesse.
In May, the company reportedly nixed merit raises for the year and instructed employees to take a furlough — a weeklong unpaid vacation between June 27 and July 3.
At the time, communications director Scott Sayres said Honeywell was "implementing some short-term cost controls in light of the slower global economy and recent aerospace industry-wide market challenges and volatility as noted by many of our biggest customers."
It was the second time in six months that employees were asked to take a week off without pay. The previous furlough was reportedly ordered in November, coupled with an announcement of impending layoffs.
In part, the company has attributed slower economic growth to decreased funding by the U.S. Department of Defense.
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