Democrats give political donations from Harvey Weinstein away to charities
WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and potential 2020 presidential contender Elizabeth Warren among them — are starting to give charities thousands of dollars in donations they had received from the disgraced Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein.
Weinstein and his family have given more than $1.4 million in political contributions since the 1992 election cycle, nearly all of it to Democratic lawmakers, candidates and their allies, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
The party's effort to separate itself from the 65-year-old film executive came after The New York Times reported that he has settled sexual harassment lawsuits with at least eight women.
Weinstein's contributions are tiny compared to the biggest political donors, not even placing him among the top 100 funders. But he's been a fixture among Democratic supporters for decades, making the revelations especially embarrassing for a party that touts itself as pushing progressive policies for women.
The biggest recipients of Weinstein's largesse were the Democratic National Committee, the party's senatorial and House campaign committees, and Hillary Clinton, the party's 2016 presidential candidate and former senator, the Center's data showed.
The GOP jumped on the episode, happy to force Democrats to return the funds or associate themselves with Weinstein.
"Returning this dirty money should be a no-brainer," said Republican Party Chair Ronna McDaniel.
Schumer, D-N.Y., is donating thousands of dollars to several charities supporting women, said spokesman Matt House.
Warren spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said the senator is giving $5,000 to Casa Myrna, Boston's largest provider of services to domestic violence victims.
Another possible presidential contender, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., will not accept any future Weinstein contributions, said senior adviser Glen Caplin. He said Gillibrand will donate $11,800 to RAINN, an organization that helps survivors of sexual violence.
"Kirsten invites the right-wing activists using this terrible story as a political tool to join her in actually working to combat sexual assault and sexual harassment in our society," Caplin said.
Other Democratic recipients of Weinstein contributions who say they're donating to charitable groups include Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey — another possible presidential hopeful — as well as Sens. Al Franken of Minnesota, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
Demands to return campaign dollars are a staple of Washington politics practiced by both parties.
Republicans pressured Democratic candidates in 2011 to return donations from former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., who had resigned when his lewd online behavior became public.
Democrats did the same after former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., was sentenced to prison last year in a hush-money case that stemmed from decades-old sexual abuse during his years as a wrestling coach.
The report on Weinstein came almost exactly a year after the election-campaign release of audio from 2005 in which now-President Donald Trump made offensive, lewd comments about women.
Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report.