The newspaper that owns the rights to a photo of Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) raising his fist on Jan. 6, 2021, said it never gave Hawley’s campaign permission to put it on a mug.
Last month, Hawley’s campaign started selling a mug emblazoned with the photo, which was taken by a photographer for a Politico-owned publication called E&E News.
“The photo was taken by E&E News photographer Francis Chung. We did not authorize its use by the Hawley campaign for the purpose of political fundraising, which the campaign has been put on notice of by legal counsel,” Politico spokesman Brad Dayspring said in an email.
“We eagerly await a response, but in the interim again respectfully ask that the campaign immediately cease and desist unauthorized use of the image,” Dayspring said.
Hawley’s campaign seems to have no intention of honoring the request, dismissing the legal threat.
“We haven’t received any correspondence from Politico or anyone else, but we are in full compliance with the law,” Hawley campaign spokesman Kyle Plotkin told HuffPost. “Perhaps Politico can show us the correspondence they sent to the many liberal groups who also used the photo.”
Hawley, for his part, told HuffPost last month that he did not consider it a “pro-riot mug” even though it shows him raising his fist to Donald Trump supporters gathered at the Capitol shortly before many of them broke into and ransacked the building.
“At the time that we were out there, folks were gathered peacefully to protest, and they have a right to do that,” Hawley said. “They do not have a right to assault cops.”
The mug represents Hawley’s boldest effort to rebrand his role in Trump’s bid to overthrow the election as good politics. As of Friday afternoon, the item was front and center on Hawley’s campaign website.