Weinstein cash for Democrats in the spotlight
UNITED STATES: Leading Democrat politicians are under pressure to return their campaign contributions from Harvey Weinstein, as the fallout from the sex scandal engulfing the Hollywood mogul spreads to Washington.
The film producer is at an undisclosed location in Europe, in rehab, after his wife Georgina Chapman announced she was leaving him.
Calls have grown for Weinstein to be stripped of his CBE, and Cara Delevingne and Heather Graham yesterday became the latest stars to allege they had suffered sexual harassment from him.
Weinstein, 65, had over the course of 25 years accumulated more than US$2.2 million in donations for the Democrats, both through personal contributions and ‘‘bundles’’, funds raised by rallying his friends.
By last year, he had donated more than US$26,000 to Hillary Clinton, and put another US$15,000 into the political action committee HILLPAC over 17 years of her political career. A fundraiser in June 2016 for her presidential election campaign raised more than US$1.8m.
Weinstein was also a strong supporter of Barack Obama, eventually donating more than US$45,000. The Obamas sent their daughter Malia to intern for Weinstein’s company last year.
Both the Obamas and Clinton have issued statements condemning Weinstein, but neither mentioned returning the funds.
New York senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand quickly donated the contributions he had made to their campaigns to charity. But New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who received US$60,000, has not followed suit, New York Republicans allege.
Republicans have called on Democrats to return Weinstein donations.
‘‘During three decades’ worth of sexual harassment allegations, Harvey Weinstein lined the pockets of Democrats to the tune of three-quarters of a million dollars,’’ said Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairman of the Republican National Committee. ‘‘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.’’
The Manhattan district attorney’s office defended a decision by former district attorney Cy Vance not to prosecute Weinstein in 2015 after being given an audio tape from actress Ambra Battilana Gutierrez in which Weinstein admitted groping her.
Months later, Vance received a US$10,000 campaign contribution from Weinstein’s lawyer.
In Britain, Labour MPs yesterday vowed to refer Weinstein to the honours forfeiture committee, meaning he could be stripped of his CBE.
Harvey Weinstein raised millions of dollars for Democrat politicians over 25 years.