Democratic lawmakers are returning donations from longtime donor Harvey Weinstein following an explosive story in the New York Times that alleged he sexually harassed numerous women over several decades.
Following reports that Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Patrick Leahy, Martin Heinrich and Richard Blumenthal will give donations they received from Weinstein to charities that help women, representatives of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris told TIME that they were making similar donations.
An investigation by the Times published Thursday said that Weinstein, a Hollywood producer whose films have earned over 300 Academy Award nominations, has been accused of inappropriate contact and sexual harassment with a number of women he worked with professionally, including actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan. Weinstein has denied the allegations.
Weinstein has been a prolific patron of Democratic politics and politicians for years, spending more than $1.4 million since 1990 on candidates, parties, and action committees. Publicly available campaign records disclose that he regularly writes checks in the five figures for the Democratic National Committee and contributed to the campaigns of major party figures.
Republicans were harshly critical of lawmakers who had accepted Weinstein’s donations, arguing that his behavior was well-known before the Times report was published.
“I don’t think that people are surprised,” Tim Miller, a Republican operative who served as Jeb Bush’s communications director in the 2016 election. “It seems like it was an open secret. Hollywood and the Democratic Party tend to look the other way when there’s misogynistic behavior exhibited by people who contribute to Democratic causes”
An email from the Republican National Committee circulating on Friday listed 29 Democratic politicians and entities that benefited from Weinstein’s patronage.
“If Democrats and the DNC truly stand up for women like they say they do, then returning this dirty money should be a no-brainer,” RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in the email.
Outside Republican groups said they intend to highlight the gap between Democrats idealistic statements on the treatment of women and the acceptance of donations from Weinstein.
“Our goal is to shed a light on what appears to be a cash juggernaut for the Democratic Party that is, by all accounts, rife with contradictions to the stated principles of that organization and its elected officials,” Alexandra Smith, who runs the Republican opposition research group America Rising, told TIME. “The narrative here is that this is a party that purports itself to be a champion of women, but when you mix in big-time money it seems like those objectives become a little gray.”
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