Harvey Weinstein shows up in picture after picture with Democratic politicians, from President Obama to 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. But it may be a long time before anyone running for office is willing to pose with him again.
“At a fundraiser, politicians shake hands with donors,” Jack Pitney, professor of government at California’s Claremont McKenna College, told TheWrap. “Who would want to shake hands with him now? We don’t know where those hands have been.”
OpenSecrets.org, which tracks political contributions, reported that Weinstein had paid out $772,000 in more than 160 donations since 1991. All but two went to Democrats.
Thursday’s explosive New York Times report that he made settlements to at least eight women who accused him of sexual misconduct had lawmakers falling all over each other to give away money he donated to them.
They include Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Minnesota Sen. Sen. Al Franken, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy — and Democrats’ leader in the Senate, New York’s Chuck Schumer, all of whom said they would donate the money to women’s charities and groups fighting sexual assault.
The Democratic National Comittee called the accusations against Weinstein “deeply troubling.” The DNC also announced it will donate to charity any money it received from the movie mogul during the 2016 election cycle — about $30,000 in total.
They hope the gesture will be enough. But Republicans are unlikely to let the issue die. The lone Republican who received Weinstein donations was Nevada’s John Chachas, who received two gifts of $2,400 each for his failed 2010 Senate campaign.
Former White House spokesman Sean Spicer tweeted out a list of politicians he said had failed to return Weinstein’s money. Weinstein’s long list of chosen candidates includes California Sen. Diane Feinstein, Bill and Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama.
Democrats finger-pointed back, noting that the Weinstein accusations came almost exactly a year after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Donald Trump bragged that he grabs women “by the p—y” and kisses them without their consent.
Trump went on to become president, and some think Weinstein will rebound, too — though he’s unlikely to be invited to any campaign rallies.
“They wouldn’t want him to throw an event but they would love for him to make 20 phones calls and raise money,” said Howie Mandel, a prominent Los Angeles-based Democratic Party bundler who is not related to the comedian of the same name.
“It doesn’t change his power because there are plenty of people who want his business and will take his phone call,” Mandel said.
The Weinstein Company board released a statement Friday accepting Weinstein’s decision to take an extended leave of absence from the company — but it left open the possibility that he could return following an independent investigation of his conduct.
Weinstein has said he wants to channel his anger by focusing on politics — particularly by taking on the NRA.
Matt Pressberg contributed to this report.View Hollywood Filmmaker Brothers, From the Russos to the Weinsteins (Photos)