by Jordain Carney · October 10, 2017
Former President Obama and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton both denounced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein on Tuesday as allegations of rape and sexual harassment increased against the prominent Democratic donor.
The critical statements came roughly five days after the scandal broke and as the leading Democrats faced mounting criticism from Republicans for staying on the sidelines.
“Michelle and I have been disgusted by the recent reports about Harvey Weinstein,” the former president and former first lady Michelle Obama said in the joint statement.
“Any man who demeans and degrades women in such fashion needs to be condemned and held accountable, regardless of wealth or status,” they said. “We should celebrate the courage of women who have come forward to tell these painful stories. And we should work to build a culture — including by empowering our girls and teaching our boys decency and respect — so we can make such behavior less prevalent in the future.”
Clinton in a statement released shortly after new reports were published about Weinstein said she was “shocked and appalled by the revelations.”
“The behavior described by women coming forward cannot be tolerated. Their courage and the support of others is critical in helping to stop this kind of behavior,” Clinton said.
Clinton and Democrats have come under criticism from Republicans over Weinstein, who gave more than $1.4 million to federal campaigns and political action committees, mostly to Democrats, between 1990 and 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
On Tuesday, new reports that Weinstein had allegedly raped several women, and that his harassment victims included stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, ensured another huge day of coverage and questions about donations for any Democrat willing to appear on television.
Ronna Romney McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, took swipes via social media at both Clinton and Michelle Obama.
“So Michelle Obama speaks out against women in the @GOP, but won’t stand up for the women assaulted by Weinstein?” she questioned on Twitter.
Michelle Obama praised Weinstein in 2013 as a “wonderful human being, a good friend and just a powerhouse.”
In the 2012 cycle, Weinstein donated more than $5,000 to Obama for America and more than $66,000 to the Obama Victory Fund, according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Weinstein was also a bundler for President Obama, including teaming up with Vogue editor Anna Wintour for at least two fundraisers in 2012, where a top-flight roster of liberal donors paid $35,800 to co-host and individuals paid $10,000 each to get in.
Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign manager, said ahead of Clinton’s comments that her silence was “disappointing” given her long-standing work on the rights of women and girls.
“And as long as I have known her, she really has walked the walk and talked the talk on this. … So personally it is, it is disappointing that she hasn’t come out and condemned Harvey Weinstein,” she told CNN hours before Clinton’s statement was released.
Weinstein donated $5,400 to Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, as well as more than $33,000 to the Hillary Victory Fund — a joint operation between the campaign, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and state parties, according to FEC records.
He was also a bundler for the Clinton campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Pressed on Tuesday if the campaign should return the money, Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), said that “the campaign is over.”
Republicans were playing defense on issues of sexual harassment just a year ago after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape in which then-GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump talked about grabbing women “by the p—y.”
Many Democrats said Republicans criticizing their party for accepting donations from Weinstein were hypocritical given Trump’s comments.
Yet it was Republicans on Tuesday who were continuing their attacks.
The House GOP’s campaign aim launched a video urging its counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), to give back the money from the Democratic mega-donor.
According to Open Secrets, Weinstein gave the DCCC $16,200 in 2013 and $5,000 in 2011.
“In light of these allegations, it’s time for Democrats to return Harvey Weinstein’s dirty money,” National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) spokesman Matt Gorman said in a statement provided to The Hill. “The DCCC’s silence is unconscionable and they cannot excuse years of abuse by one of their donors.”
Republicans are also using Democrats’ own words on Weinstein funding against them.
The NRCC video included a clip of an interview with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who said that those who received money from Weinstein “should probably give it back.”
The DCCC didn’t respond to a request for comment, while Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the decision was for each lawmaker to make.
“As I said, members are going to have to decide what they want to do, or whether they want to do anything on that matter, and who they think the money ought to go to,” he said.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee didn’t respond to a request for comment on Tuesday about what it would do with Weinstein campaign contributions.
Several Democratic senators, including Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.), have said they will give money received from Weinstein to charity.
Spokespeople for Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) — the second- and fourth-ranking Senate Democrat, respectively — confirmed separately on Tuesday they will donate previous campaign contributions from Weinstein.
The DNC has come under fire for saying it would give away a fraction of its Weinstein contributions.
It has received about $300,000 from Weinstein over the years, federal election records show.
But the group said late last week that it would donate $30,000 it received from him in the last campaign cycle to EMILY’s List, which supports women running for office who support abortion rights; Emerge America, which recruits and trains Democratic women for office; and Higher Heights, which supports black women running for office.
A spokesperson for EMILY’s List, which hasn’t received any direct contributions from Weinstein, confirmed Tuesday that the group will keep the DNC’s donation.
“EMILY’s List plans to continue our work to elect more women to positions of leadership so no woman has to endure sexual harassment at the hands of a powerful man again,” said spokeswoman Julie McClain Downey.