As Democratic lawmakers begin to distance themselves from disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, the break-up might be a bit tougher for the Clintons and Obamas – whose ties to the mega-producer and Democratic donor run deep.
Hillary Clinton, after facing mounting pressure to speak out, broke her silence on the allegations Tuesday. Five days after the Weinstein accusations emerged, Clinton released a statement saying she was “shocked and appalled.” Late Tuesday, the Obamas released a statement of their own, saying: “Any man who demeans and degrades women in such fashion needs to be condemned and held accoubtable, regardless of wealth or status.”
A deep and tangled history with Weinstein could help explain the delay.
The producer — using his connections to the wealthy Hollywood and New York elite — gave or helped raise more than $100,000 for Barack Obama and the Clintons since at least 1995, according to OpenSecrets.org. Roughly half of that went to Hillary Clinton’s presidential and Senate campaigns, including a political committee she used to support other Democrats and a joint fund with the DNC in 2016.
In total, Weinstein gave or helped raise — or “bundle” — $1.5 million for Democratic candidates over that time, according to Open Secrets, the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics’ website that tracks campaign finance.
Weinstein, who was fired from his own company Sunday following sexual misconduct allegations dating back decades, hosted two Hillary Clinton fundraisers just in the last election.
On Tuesday, Clinton denounced Weinstein’s actions and said such behavior “cannot be tolerated.” But neither she nor Obama has revealed plans to return his money or donate it to charity, like New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and other congressional Democrats have done.
As with Clinton, Weinstein has been a significant donor and fundraiser for the 44th president — having raised or helped raise roughly $56,000 for the former Democratic president’s Obama Victory Fund.
One memorable event was held in 2012 at Weinstein’s oceanfront estate in Connecticut, where he teamed up with Vogue editor Anna Wintour for a $35,800-a-plate fundraiser.
“Fighting for Planned Parenthood and protecting women’s rights, this president has fought the good fight,” Weinstein said in introducing Obama, according to a pool report at the time. “You can make the case that he’s the Paul Newman of American presidents.”
Obama’s daughter, Malia, also did an internship for the Weinstein Company in New York between high school and attending college this fall.
‘You can make the case that he’s the Paul Newman of American presidents.’
– Harvey Weinstein, speaking of Barack Obama at a 2012 fundraiser
When it came time for Democratic heavyweights to rally around Clinton for the 2016 cycle, Weinstein was there in a big way.
The producer co-hosted one Clinton fundraiser in October 2015 — again with Wintour — that purportedly included a photo-op with Clinton attendees who paid at least $2,700.
He then hosted another about eight months later with wife Georgina Chapman in their New York City home. The event was reportedly co-hosted by such stars as Jennifer Lopez and Academy Award winner Leonardo DiCaprio.
FILE: Nov. 8, 2013: The Weinstein Co. co-founder Harvey Weinstein with then- first lady Michelle Obama at a White House event about film for high school students. (REUTERS)
Weinstein also attended a Wintour runway style event in fall 2016 that showcased designer Clinton campaign T-shirts and was attended by Clinton daughter Chelsea Clinton and fashion designer Michael Kors.
The 65-year-old Weinstein — who broke into the film business in 1979 with his and brother Bob’s independent film company Miramax — is also a major Clinton Foundation contributor, having given $100,000 to $250,000, according the group’s website.
Weinstein was ousted by the Weinstein Company’s board of directors following a New York Times exposé that detailed years of sexual harassment allegations against him.
The Times story states Weinstein reached settlements with at least eight women since 1990 over harassment allegations, including from actress Ashley Judd and several former employees. New accusations, some of them even including allegations of rape, emerged in a New Yorker story published Tuesday.
Weinstein has publicly apologized, though he and his lawyers have criticized some of the reporting. In response to The New Yorker report, a representative told the magazine: “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.”
Beyond Schumer, Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Al Franken of Minnesota and others have donated some or all of their Weinstein money to women’s groups.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.