As Democrats Denounce Weinstein, Clintons and Obama Stay Mum
CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 10/10/2017, 9:51 a.m.
By Eli Watkins and Dan Merica, CNN
(CNN) -- Many Democratic office holders were quick to repudiate disgraced Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein following a bombshell report detailing decades of alleged sexual harassment.
But former Democratic Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, as well as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- all of whom have longstanding ties to Weinstein, a major Democratic Party fundraiser -- have not publicly addressed the accusations.
Representatives for the Clintons have not responded to comment for this story, and Obama's office declined to comment. Clinton did not mention Weinstein during an appearance Monday night at the University of California, Davis, as part of her book tour, her first public appearance since the story broke.
The recent report in The New York Times cataloged accusations of sexual harassment against the filmmaker that spanned three decades. Three days after the report, Weinstein was fired by the company he co-founded.
Longtime Hillary Clinton aides have been confused by the former secretary of state's silence on the issue, questioning -- in private -- why she has not weighed in at all.
Weinstein has long been a Clinton donor with ties to the political family. Weinstein was one of many from Hollywood who donated to Bill Clinton's legal defense fund in the 1990s, a Washington Post report from the time stated. More recently, the Clintons rented a home next to Weinstein in the Hamptons in 2015, and Weinstein served as a connector between Hollywood stars and Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign.
Weinstein raised about $1.5 million from 1990-2016, according to data from the campaign finance-tracking Center for Responsive Politics, and was a bundler for Clinton's 2016 effort, including at a star-studded fundraiser for Clinton in June 2016 at Weinstein's Manhattan home.
Clinton personally headlined multiple fundraisers Weinstein was involved in organizing during the campaign.
CRP's OpenSecrets website shows Weinstein was a bundler for Obama as well, and the Hollywood giant visited the White House on several occasions during Obama's tenure. At a White House event for student films in 2013, first lady Michelle Obama credited Weinstein for making the event happen and praised him as a wonderful person and a good friend.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has been outspoken on the issue of sexual assault, also has not appeared to make any public statements about Weinstein since the report came out, and the Biden Foundation did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.
Several Democrats announced their intention to return donations received from Weinstein or donate them to charity in the wake of the Times report. But as a bundler, much of his work for campaigns was gathering up donations from others into large sums -- making potentially returning Weinstein's donations more complicated for politicians like Clinton and Obama.
Calls for response
An editorial from The New York Times on Friday implored the Clintons and Obama to disavow Weinstein, calling on Democrats to make sure his status as a major party donor would not prevent anyone from speaking out.