Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says he’ll offset $7,000 in campaign contributions he’s received from accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein by donating an equivalent amount to anti-sex trafficking and anti-violence against women groups.
Don’t count on it.
In 2017, when multiple women went public with accusations that Harvey Weinstein had sexually harassed them, Democratic politicians, including Schumer, leaped to disassociate themselves from him. In particular, they promised to donate Weinstein’s now-tainted campaign contributions to charity.
Schumer was prominent among numerous politicians scurrying to say they would make amends. Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show that Weinstein donated $20,700 to the Friends of Schumer campaign finance committee during 2013-2017.
“Sen. Schumer is donating all of the (Weinstein) contributions to several charities supporting women,” Matt House, a spokesman for Sen. Schumer, told the Washington Post in October 2017.
Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel praised Schumer for doing the right thing.
She was too quick in her praise.
FEC records reveal that Schumer’s campaign committee didn’t donate one thin dime to charities supporting women in 2017 or 2018.
During that same period, Schumer’s committee also received contributions from the DNC Services Corp (Democratic National Committee), to which Weinstein had donated $203,458.
There’s no evidence that Schumer’s committee re-distributed any of that money to women’s groups either.
To its apparent credit, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) said it would donate $30,000 of the funds it had received from Weinstein to three non-profits:
- Emily’s List, a political action committee that aims to help elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates to office.
- Emerge America, an organization that recruits, trains and provides a network to Democratic women who want to run for office, and
- Higher Heights, a national organization working to elect Black women, influence elections and advance progressive policies.
FEC records of the DNC’s expenditures in 2017-2018 reveal that it lived up to its promise.
On Oct. 30, 2017, the DNC sent Emily’s List $10,290.15. (The DNC also sent $5,000 to Emily’s List on May 25, 2017, but that was before the Weinstein scandal erupted.)
The DNC also sent $10,290.15 to both Emerge America and Higher Heights on Oct. 30, 2017. It sent $1250 to Higher Heights on Sept. 29.
But there was a hitch. The DNC collected $300,000 in donations from Weinstein, not $30,000. It kept the other $270,000.
Other Democratic politicians, including some who are now running for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, also had received funds from Weinstein and also made a lot of promises to send the money to deserving non-profits. The announced recipients, however, were largely organizations that would launder the money right back to Democrats and their causes.
Even then, not all the politicians followed through on their commitments.
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D- MA) said she’d donate $5,000 she received from Weinstein to Casa Myrna, a nonprofit group in Massachusetts. The FEC’s records on expenditures of the Elizabeth Warren Action Fund during 2017-2018 don’t show any payments to Casa Myrna.
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said she would donate $10,000 received from Weinstein to RAAIN, (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), an anti-sexual violence organization. No such donation is reported in FEC records of expenditures by Gillibrand’s 2017-2018 campaign finance committees.
- Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) said he’d send Weinstein’s donations to the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center. According to OpenSecrets.org, Weinstein donated a total of $17,300 to Franken and his Midwest Values PAC. None of Franken’s campaign finance committees recorded on FEC.org show a donation to the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center during 2017-2018.
- Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said she would give $5,000 she received from Weinstein to a women’s rights nonprofit, Equal Rights Advocates. FEC records on Harris’ campaign finance committees do not show such a donation during 2017-2018.
- Bob Casey (D-PA) said he’d give $2,190 he received from Weinstein to the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. FEC records on Casey’s campaign finance committees do not show such a donation.
- The Clinton Foundation’s website says Weinstein has donated between $100,001 – $250,000 to the Foundation. In Oct. 2017, the Foundation announced it had no plans to return Weinstein’s contributions, saying they had already been spent on charitable programs. According to the Foundation’s Form 990 report to the IRS, it had net assets of $323,470,879 at the end of 2017.
Looks like a lot of politicians’ promises are no more than empty public relations gestures. Surprise!